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4th March 2014: 'Dirt Magnet' rearranged in Spain!

posted 3 Mar 2014, 16:25 by Helên Thomas   [ updated 25 Jan 2018, 19:43 ]

I recently sent  some recordings of my poetry to a Spanish friend, who teaches English to students aged 12 /13, in Seville.  I joked that it would be an interesting activity to get the students to translate one of my poems into Spanish, then swap their work with one another and translate each other's work back into English. I did wonder whether this would result in some surreal 'new' poems with certain words and phrases being lost in translation. However, on seeing the end product of this exercise, it was clear that I had underestimated the students' abilities. 

The poem chosen for this task is 'Dirt Magnet' from my book 'We Are Poets!' You can read and / or listen to the original poem below.

Once you've done that, you can compare it to the students' work and see if you can spot any differences.  I think they have done a great job; I don't think that I could match the quality of their translating, and certainly wouldn't have been able to at the age of 13. I'll be sending the link to this blog to their teacher, and so, dear reader if you are one of the students that I have been writing about I'd just like to say,  'Hello! Well done! And thanks for reading.'

What’s the point of earwax,
And the slime that’s up my nose?
Why can’t I plant a seed in there,
And see if something grows?

Why is my belly button
Full of fluff and goo?
Why do spilt spaghetti hoops
Stick to me like glue?

Why is there always custard
Dried upon my chin?
And why do I make so much gas
That’s better out than in?

Why is there always soil
And grass stains on my knees?
Why do my socks get scuffed with oil
And always smell like cheese?

Why is half the garden
Underneath my nails?
And why does my hair tangle
Like a mesh of mad rats’ tails?

Why is that place behind my ears
Always thick with grime.
And why is my grey, unwashed neck
Worse than any crime?

Where does all that dust come from
That’s in between my toes,
And why is there so much of it?
My Mum says that she knows

The reason I’m so grungy,
It’s a power I exert,
The muck’s attracted to me,
I’m a magnet for the dirt!

Copyright Helên Thomas

And here is how it looks after having been translated into Spanish then back into English by students from I.E.S. Murillo, Seville, Spain.