A ‘poetic masterpiece’ written by one of America’s most renowned poets has been translated into Scottish Gaelic and unveiled in Glasgow today.

In a fusion of two cultures, one of the works created by Elizabeth Bishop – an American born poet and short-story writer – will be unveiled in Glasgow tonight after it was translated by a local University lecturer.

Organised by the University of Glasgow's College of Arts & Humanities, the Elizabeth Bishop in Glasgow: A Symposium event will bring together scholars, students, writers, translators, and readers from around the globe to delve deep into Bishop's influential body of work.

The symposium promises to offer an unprecedented exploration of her work through a Scottish-Atlantic lens.

The translation is believed to be the first time a piece of Bishop’s work has been changed to Gaelic. Responsible for the work is a traditional singer and Gaelic lecturer at Glasgow University, Gillebride MacMillan.

He translated the poem known as ‘Sandpiper’ into his native tongue and hopes it can reveal Bishop’s works to a wider audience.

He said: “It is a huge honour to get the opportunity to translate one of Elizabeth Bishop's poems into Gaelic for the first time. Bishop's poetry is exceptional, and she is rightly highly regarded for her writing.

“There are many strong links between Gaelic and North America and especially Nova Scotia, a place which Bishop knew so well and was so fond of. Therefore, this translation will further strengthen those ties and give Bishop's poetry a new Gaelic audience.”

Gaelic Lecturer at University of Glasgow Gillebride MacMillan. (Image: Gilliebride Macmillan)


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Born in 1911 in America, Bishop was raised in Canada and first started writing at Vassar College in New York while she worked on the student paper. She also founded her own magazine called Con Spirito.

Bishop was the Poet Laureate of the United States from 1949 to 1950 and also won most of the major poetry prizes including a Pulitzer in 1956. She passed away aged 68 in 1979.

Scholars say her skill with language and metaphor, combined with her unique voice and perspective, has cemented her as one of the most influential American poets of the 20th century.

The Symposium in Glasgow runs from June 26-28 and will delve into the cross-pollination of influences between Bishop and iconic Scots poets like Robert Burns, whose work she was exposed to at a young age.

Professor Jo Gill, Head of the College of Arts & Humanities and Professor of Twentieth Century and American Literature, said: “I am delighted to present this exciting Gaelic translation of Elizabeth Bishop's work at the Glasgow symposium.

“The Sandpiper as "Cìobair-tràighe" by Gillebrìde Mac 'IlleMhaoil (Gilbert MacMillan), is - we believe - the first time that the work of this world-renowned poet, who was born in the United States but raised in Nova Scotia, has been translated into Gaelic.

"We hope it is a fitting tribute to Bishop’s profound literary influence but also highlights the deep cultural connections between Scotland and North America.”

Located in the James McCune Smith Learning Hub on University Avenue in Glasgow’s west end, the Symposium will also explore the influence that Bishop has had on Scottish writers up to the present day.

Among the keynotes will be Professor Langdon Hammer from Yale University and Victoria Fox from Bishop's long-time publisher, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York.