Will Stone is a poet, essayist and literary translator. His first poetry collection Glaciation (Salt, 2007), won the international Glen Dimplex Award for poetry in 2008. A second collection Drawing in Ash appeared from Salt in May 2011. Shearsman Books republished these in 2015 and published a third collection The Sleepwalkers in April 2016. Menard Press published Will’s first translation of Les Chimères by Gérard de Nerval in 1999. Arc Publications published To the Silenced - Selected Poems of Georg Trakl (2005) and Emile Verhaeren Poems (2013). Georges Rodenbach Poems will appear in 2017. Pushkin Press published his first English translation of Zweig’s Montaigne in August 2015 and Zweig’s Messages from a lost world in January 2016. A further collection of Zweig’s essay portraits of contemporaries will be published in autumn 2017 as Encounters and Destinies – A Farewell to Europe. Hesperus Press has published further translations of Zweig, Joseph Roth and Maurice Betz and will publish his translation of Friedrich Hölderlin: Life, Poetry and Madness by Wilhelm Waiblinger in 2017. Seagull Books will publish a Collected Poems of Georg Trakl in 2018. Will is currently writing a book about the lesser known artistic and cultural landscapes of Belgium.
Three questions to Will Stone:
Why did you choose to become a translator? Is it the profession you always wanted?
I did not choose to become a translator, it chose me... I was living in Paris in the early nineties and began to explore European literature in translation provided by bookshops such as Village Voice (now sadly deceased). I felt an urge to try my hand and began by translating Maupassant's unknown Letter from a Madman, a kind of precursor to the more famous Le Horla. The die was cast. I then returned to England and took the MA in Literary Translation at UEA where i was under the tutelage of Professor Jean Boase-Beier and in those days even WG Sebald held some seminars. In Suffolk I was fortunate to live near to the legendary figure of Michael Hamburger who became a friend and great example, and who introduced me to a number of translators and writers in East Anglia, including Sebald. Having said all this I consider myself a writer first and translator second, I feel i have given fifteen years of my life to bringing overlooked texts to English language readers and now i would like to concentrate more on my own prose work, particularly a book on the lesser known aspects of Belgium's cultural landscape.
Which German book do you like the best and why?
What an impossible question... I think I would have to go for Tagebuch eines Verzweifelten 'Diary of a man in Despair' by Friedrich Reck von Malleczewen, simply because it is essential that everyone reads this book who wishes to have any grasp of what living in a totalitarian state might be like. Also because it is extremely moving and concerns truth rather than fiction, which in the end is more important, especially now in a time where truth is being casually expunged.
Is there a particular book you would like to translate?
I would like to translate some of the works on the psychology of cities by Rilke's old master the sociologist, critic and philosopher, Georg Simmel, since this aspect of his work appears to be almost unknown in the English speaking world. Simmel's sensitively drawn essays on Florence, Rome and Venice seem to me especially ripe for reappraisal .