Amanda Gorman: Publisher Faces Backlash After Selecting White Dutch Writer To Translate Her Poems

Amanda Gorman continues to win adulation after she read her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in January, 2021. But now, a Dutch writer has stirred a bit of controversy after rejecting an assignment to translate Gorman’s works.

According to The Associated Press, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, returned the assignment after the selection of a white author to translate the words of a Black woman was called into question. Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history.

“I am shocked by the uproar around my involvement in the dissemination of Amanda Gorman’s message, and I understand people who feel hurt by the choice of [publishing house] Meulenhoff to ask me,” Rijneveld, a non-binary poet and a novelist, wrote in a statement in Dutch on Friday (Feb. 26). The author became the youngest to win the International Booker Prize for “The Discomfort of Evening” in 2020. 

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Rijneveld was scheduled to translate both “The Hill We Climb” and Gorman’s first collection of poetry. Each translation was set to be released by March 30 and August 21 by publisher Meulenhoff, The Independent reports.

“We are going to look for a team to cooperate with to translate Amanda’s words and message of hope and inspiration as well as possible and in her spirit,” said Maaike le Noble, Meulenhoff general director. 

Gorman first shared the news of Rijneveld translating her work in a retweet from the author. 

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Janice Deul, a vocal critic who is an activist and journalist, penned an op-ed in the Netherlands’s national daily newspaper de Volkskrant in a push to replace Rijneveld. 

“Not to take anything away from Rijneveld’s qualities, but why not choose a writer who is — just like Gorman,” she wrote. “[A] spoken word artist, young, female and unapologetically Black.”

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