In today’s #MeetTheContributor series, we’re interviewing writer, poet and artist Khairani Barokka.

She is a practice-based researcher, whose work centres disability justice as anti-colonial praxis. Among her honours, she was the first non-British Associate Artist at the UK’s National Centre for Writing, and an NYU Tisch Departmental Fellow, and is currently UK Associate Artist at Delfina Foundation and Research Fellow at University of the Arts London. She was also Modern Poetry in Translation (MPT)’s Inaugural Poet-in-Residence and is now the Editor of the magazine. 

MPT is a tri-annual poetry magazine that publishes poetry from all over the world in English translation. Founded in 1965 by Ted Hughes and Daniel Weissbort, it has consistently published the very best of world poetry in the very best translations, and has introduced a number of famous poets and iconic translations to the English-speaking world.

Picture description: A black and white photo of an Indonesian woman in profile, with short hair, a visible silver earring and dark dress. Picture credit: Matthew Thompson.

1. What inspired you to have a career in the arts?

Being in love with stories and storytelling from a young age. I think often about how many more people would like to have a career in the arts than society makes possible, and how we can change this collectively.

2. What is your experience of writing poetry in different languages?

It’s been wonderful as an aesthetic and intellectual practice. I don’t write in Indonesian as much as I used to, but recently finished a poetry commission in Indonesian, for an anthology published by feminist arts collective Peretas. It was deeply gratifying, and I hope to do more and more of it.

3. What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?

Every time someone publishes a poem workshopped in one of my classes, or a mentee finishes a project, it makes me very proud, as does publishing anything myself. A highlight is definitely being told I’d been given this position, as Modern Poetry in Translation Editor.

4. What are you most looking forward to about being the Editor of Modern Poetry in Translation?

Reading all these incredible works being submitted, working together in a small group with collegiality, and shaping each issue as though it is its own poem. I want more and more people to discover the magazine, and to foreground global majority voices, which includes global majority translators.

5. Do you have a favourite issue of Modern Poetry in Translation?

Such a difficult question to answer, I’m not sure I can play favourites! I urge your readers to look through our Issues excerpts on the website to see what I mean.

6. Do you have any new work coming up you’d like to tell our readers about?

Watch out for the Food Issue of MPT coming out in October, and my biilingually-titled book is Ultimatum Orangutan.

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Thanks so much for your time Khairani — and we can’t wait to see how the magazine evolves under your editorship!

Digital subscriptions to Modern Poetry in Translation, which feature unlimited & fully-searchable access to the complete archive dating back to 2003, are available in the Exact Editions individual and institutional shops.