Professor Patricia Keeney is off to Italy for the launch of “Felicia and the Birds”

Patricia Keeney
Patricia Keeney

English and Creative Writing Professor Patricia Keeney will be in Capri, Italy in April for the launch of Felicia and the Birds, a children’s book just released in Europe carrying an English translation done by her.

Published in Sweden by Bokförlaget Langenskiöld, Felicia and the Birds was written by Susanne Marko of Stockholm and is based on the life of Dr. Axel Munthe (1857-1949), a Swedish physician who became famous for his efforts to turn a mountain in Capri into a European bird sanctuary. Prevailing over the interests of government and business, Munthe’s sanctuary has, for decades, sheltered birds before long migratory flights. The sanctuary, now expanded into a world-renowned environmental and medical research centre for birds, continues to ensure the biological diversity of many avian species.

“The lavishly illustrated book,” said Keeney, “is itself a collaborative effort between writer Susanne Marko and the well-known illustrator, Christina Ramberg Nordenskiöld. An inspiring tale for children about the heroics of a small girl who, determined to save these birds, tries to enlist the help of adults in power positions, some of whom are rather unscrupulous, Felicia is a sensitive and energetic story that also resonates on many different levels of global concern.”Keeney, the author of a dozen books of poetry and fiction and who also teaches Children’s Literature at York, has known the Swedish author for many years and says she was delighted when asked to do the English translation.

birds2“Some of my best creative experiences have involved the translation of my own work into other languages, whether French, Hindi or Chinese. The process not only invites deep insight into another culture but also deepens my own understanding of English and indeed the way language builds and changes over time and geography. In this case, Susanne wanted a hint of the old Scandinavian sagas. Her Swedish version had that. My job was to find an English equivalent. The challenge was fascinating. I am gratified to be part of the launch and to read a section of the story in English.”

While in Capri, Keeney will also be reading from some of her own work. Her latest poetry collection, Orpheus in Our World, and her next novel, One Man Dancing, are both due for publication this fall. The poetry will be published by Neo-Poiesis out of British Columbia; the novel by the York-connected Inanna Press.