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Catullus: Shibari Carmina by Isobel Williams: Carcanet Book


Wednesday 24 Mar 2021, 19:00 to 20:00
Location:

Online

Description:

Please join us to celebrate the launch of Isobel Williams's new poetry collection, Catullus: Shibari Carmina. Hosting the reading will be barrister and friend of the author, Catherine Rowlands. The event will feature readings and discussions, and audience members will have the opportunity to ask their own questions. We will also be showing extracts of the text during the reading so that you can read along. Register here and let us know you can make it by joining the Facebook event.

Carcanet publishes several Catulluses: C.H. Sisson's, Len Krisak's, Simon Smith's. But Isobel Williams's Catullus: Shibari Carmina is different in kind from the earlier versions. 'Translating Catullus has been, for me, like cage fighting with two opponents,' the translator writes: 'not just A Top Poet, but the schoolgirl I was, trained to show the examiner that she knew what each word meant.' The struggle is intensified by the presence of a third element, something that made Catullus come alive, his 'tormented intelligence and romantic versatility'.

'It eventually happened at a fetish venue in South London, The Flying Dutchman - an echo of Catullus's doomed obsessive love? Someone at life class, knowing I like a drawing challenge, had told me about a Japanese rope bondage (shibari) club called Bound. I asked the management if I could draw there; on arrival I was treated like the Queen Mother. Best of all, the schoolgirl was too young to be let in.' The dynamics of shibari released Catullus from conventional constraints and delivered him to new rigours: 'I found context, metaphor and idiom for Catullus - whom one could glibly define as a bisexual switch from the late Roman Republic when such concepts were meaningless: a stern moralist who splits into an anxious bitchy dominant with the boys, a howling sub with his nemesis, the older glamorous married woman he calls Lesbia (here called Clodia, which might have been her real name).' The poet uses the terminology and forms of social media, a very contemporary idiom which is at once subjected to severe scholarship and tight syntactical discipline. All the crucial language knots are firmed up, the sense of the Latin emerges with Catullus's own laughter restored, along with the other registers of love and loss. Isobel Williams's drawings add immediacy to her versions which 'are not (for the most part) literal translations, but take an elliptical orbit around the Latin, brushing against it or defying its gravitational pull.'

Registration for this online event will cost £2, later redeemable against the cost of the book. All attendees will receive the discount code and how to purchase the book during and after event.

Please note that there is a limited number of places for the reading, so do book early to avoid disappointment. You should receive a confirmation email with details on how to join after you register. If this does not arrive, please contact us to let us know. Please also be aware that clicking 'attending' on the Facebook event will not guarantee your place - you must complete the Zoom registration here.

About the speakers:

Isobel Williams was educated at Woking Girls' Grammar School and Somerville College, Oxford. She blogs about live-drawing in various locations. She has held solo exhibitions in London and Oslo, written articles for publications ranging from The Amorist to International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, and given talks about her work at conferences in the UK and abroad. She wrote and illustrated The Supreme Court: a Guide for Bears in 2017 and is contributing a chapter to Design and Visualisation in Legal Education published by Routledge in 2021.

Catherine Rowlands is a barrister at Cornerstone Barristers in London. Catherine has a practice which covers all aspects of public law, especially social housing, community care, property and other civil litigation. She is a robust and tenacious advocate with substantial experience at all levels from the Magistrates' Court to the Supreme Court, where she has appeared in some of the most important cases in housing law. She never loses the common touch, and combines a down-to-earth style that sets witnesses at their ease with a persuasive command of the law. She also sits as a Recorder in civil cases: she loves the different viewpoint she gains as a Judge, and brings the experience gained in a wide range of cases to bear in her own practice. Catherine has a Maîtrise in French International law from the Université de Paris 1 (Panthéon-Sorbonne) and speaks fluent French.

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