- Marieke Lucas Rijneveld no longer plans to translate Amanda Gorman’s work into Dutch.
- Rijneveld had agreed to translate Gorman’s US inauguration poem and first poetry collection.
- Rijneveld exited the project, however, over criticism that the commission went to a white person.
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A Dutch poet will not translate Amanda Gorman’s work after facing criticism that it would be inappropriate for a white person to do so.
But Rijneveld, the youngest author to win the International Booker Prize, for the novel “The Discomfort of Evening,” decided to step down from the role Friday.
“I’m 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,” Rijneveld said in a Twitter statement.
Among those who criticized the decision was the Dutch cultural activist and journalist Janice Deul.
In an opinion piece for the newspaper de Volkskrant, she said: “Not to take anything away from Rijneveld’s qualities, but why not choose a writer who is — just like Gorman — a spoken-word artist, young, female, and unapologetically Black?”
Gorman, the first US National Youth Poet Laureate, then recited her poem “Chorus of the Captains” — dedicated to a teacher, an intensive-care-unit nurse, and a US Marine Corps veteran — at the Super Bowl in February.
The Dutch translation of “The Hill We Climb” was to be published in late March by the Amsterdam-based publisher Meulenhoff, the Associated Press reported.
Rijneveld was also going to translate Gorman’s first poetry collection for release on August 21, The Independent said.