Finding a ‘German’ Voice for Courtney Sina Meredith’s Brown Girls in Bright Red Lipstick
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This paper will introduce the young Samoan poet Courtney Sina Meredith and her debut poetry collection Brown Girls in Bright Red Lipstick which casts a new light on women with a Pacific or Samoan background and gives the reader a direct, and blunt, yet also a poetic insight into urban life in contemporary Aotearoa New Zealand. Coming from the poetry slam scene and having grown up in Auckland (a city with 2 million inhabitants and a large Pacific Island community), Meredith’s poetry creates an interplay of philosophical, poetic observations and depictions of modern society, and urban life and questions the role of women in today’s society. As a translator, I am particularly interested in the challenges that arise when translating not just from one language to another (in this case from English, interwoven with Samoan words and concepts, to German), but especially from one culture to another culture. According to Umberto Eco, “translation is always a shift, not between two languages but between two cultures…. A translator must take into account rules that are not strictly linguistic but, broadly speaking, cultural.” Therefore, this paper will also address the importance of the translator when it comes to enabling readers in various parts of the world access to literature from a culture that is not their own. This paper aims to give an insight into contemporary Samoan poetry by introducing one of New Zealand’s aspiring young poets and to discuss the questions and difficulties that arise when translating her poetry into German.