‘The multilingual delights of A New Divan, published 200 years after Goethe’s, are inspired by the inspiration Goethe took from Hafiz, and his passionate vision of common humanity across cultural difference. The editors, publishers expert in translated poetry and fiction, summoned more than 50 poets, translators and scholars, commissioned new poems in English, Arabic, Farsi, Turkish and Slovenian, and asked English-language poets to make versions of them. Twenty-four poets — 12 from the east, 12 from the west — respond to Goethe and Hafiz, and also to the east-west relations of today. Six brilliant essayists meditate on the process, nature and aims, past and present, of translation between east and west.’ Ruth Padel, Financial Times


‘Goethe believed an East-West dialogue would continue long after him, and this was the challenge taken up by Schwepcke when she announced a new divan on September 15, 2015, the 200th anniversary of Goethe’s letter to Willemer. Schwepcke recruited Swainson, a renowned editor in literary translation who has worked with writers such as Amin Maalouf, Juan Gabriel, Delphine de Vigan and Matthew Sweeney […] They believed translated poems should both reflect the original work and stand on their own merit. A New Divan has the Arabic, Farsi, Turkish or Slovenian poem printed across the page from its English version. Poets were assigned themes that had been used by Goethe as titles for the 12 books in West-Eastern Divan, including The Poet, Love, Faith, Paradise, Proverbs and The Tyrant. “The challenge was to commission new poems from the best poets we could persuade to take part,” says Swainson. “They had either to be familiar with Goethe or to respond to his ideas. We wanted them to speak to the world we are in now.” Gareth Smyth, The National


On 20th June 2018 the English-language poet contributors to A New Divan were formally announced at a special evening of music and poetry at the historic Wilton’s Music Hall. The London-based Tafahum ensemble performed for the first time to an audience ‘Letter to Goethe’, a piece inspired by a poem of the same name by Syria’s Adonis for A New Divan. The names of the poets taking part in the project were unveiled at the event by the editor of the programme Bill Swainson. Click here for coverage of this event by The New Arab.

Click here to read the press release about this event.

Click here to read a press release announcing the names of A New Divan’s contributing poets.


The video above documents the occasion of the launch of Gingko’s New Divan project in 2015, featuring the former head of the Goethe Institut, Joachim Sartorius, and one of Iran’s foremost contemporary novelists, Mahmoud Dowlatabadi.