Meet the World: Making the Unfamiliar Familiar

Tuesday 26 March
19.00 - 20.30

Join translators Janani Ambikapathy and Nur-El-Hudaa Jaffar for an in-depth discussion on the nuances of translating culture and antiquity.

How does a translator approach texts from the East written in a classical language which is culturally unfamiliar in the West? What decisions arise from translating poetry rich in a different historical and religious context? How does a translator express idioms and convey the finer details in just a few words?

Janani Ambikapathy and Nur-El-Hudaa Jaffar, translating from Tamil and Malay respectively, join Shash Trevett for an insightful discussion about the challenges of translating culture and antiquity that they have encountered in their work.

This discussion will take place online. Register in advance to receive your streaming link.

This event is generously supported by the National Arts Council of Singapore.

Meet the World: Singapore Season

Our Meet the World programme celebrates our ongoing connections with international writers and translators by sharing their writing and ideas with new readers. Read more here →

Janani Ambikapathy is a poet, critic and translator. She was born and raised in Chennai. Her recent pamphlet If Not Theirs was published by Veer2. Her poems and essays have appeared in the Poetry Foundation, Lana Turner, Firmament, Modernism/modernity, and Modern Poetry in Translation, amongst others. Her translations from Tamil have appeared or are forthcoming in Out of Sri Lanka: Tamil, Sinhala and English Poetry from Sri Lanka and Its Diasporas, and Circumference Magazine. She is working on a non-fiction book about translating the Akanaṉūṟu, a classical Tamil anthology of poems. 


Nur-El-Hudaa Jaffar has translated children’s picture books, fiction and poetry since 2017. She won the Inaugural MASTERA Translation Prize for Poetry in 2019 and has conducted translation workshops for students. She is also an editorial consultant and the author of eight children’s picture books. In 2017, her short stories won the first and second prizes at the Golden Point Award (Malay language category), organised by the National Art Council of Singapore. She has been a moderator and speaker at events such as the Singapore Writers Festival and the Asian Festival of Children’s Content.


Shash Trevett is a poet and a translator of Tamil poetry into English. She is the author of From a Borrowed Land (Smith|Doorstop 2021) and has co-edited (with Vidyan Ravinthiran and Seni Seneviratne) Out of Sri Lanka: Tamil, Sinhala and English Poetry from Sri Lanka and its Diasporas (Bloodaxe 2023 and Penguin Random House India 2023). In recent years, Shash has been involved with the Singapore Translation Symposium, the PEN Translates awards in the U.K and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. She was a Visible Communities Translator in Residence at the National Centre for Writing and is a Board Member of Modern Poetry in Translation.