Archive for February 2015

Writers Translating Writers

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 10.56.32 AMThe other week I got a query from the the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage in Philadelphia about writing a little something for their website apropos of the American premiere of Felix Mendelssohn’s 19th century revision of Johann Sebastian Bach’s 18th century St. Matthew Passion. They wanted a short essay about artists translating other artists, which I wound up interpreting as “Writers Translating Writers” (the title of the essay I wrote). Now don’t get me wrong – I consider all literary translators writers as long as they’re halfway good at what they do, so when I say “writers” here, what I really mean is “writers who do not generally include literary translation as part of their writing practice.” And my essay discusses a few particularly wonky translations that got produced when writers with strong points of view were loosed upon great works originally written by others. I love projects of that sort, and am always happy to see writers of all stripes engaging playfully and mischievously with translation (as e.g. a bunch of McSweeney’s authors did in 2013). So here’s the link to my short essay about weird translations-by-writers as it appears (without its title, alas) on the lovely Pew Center website.

Apply Now for 2015 Gutekunst Prize

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 2.54.25 PMIt’s Gutekunst time again – time for young (defined as under 35 and unpublished in book form) translators from the German to try their hand at a short text that has been loving selected for them by the folks at the Goethe Institut. This prize is unique in that everyone who applies for it translates the same exact text. The lucky and talented winner receives a $2500 prize, plus lots of glory. The deadline is March 13, 2015, so you’d better get translating! Information on the Goethe Institute website.

Translation on Tap in NYC, March 1 – 15, 2015

Russian_Poetry2_480_300_s_c1Welcome to March! I’m looking forward to “out like a lamb.” Meanwhile, have some translation events!

Tuesday, March 3:

Your Language—My Ear: Russian and American Poets at Close Quarters: Bilingual reading with four leading Russian poets including Shamshad Abdullaev (Fergana, Uzbekistan), Keti Chukhrov (Moscow), Alexandra Petrova (Rome), and Alexander Skidan (St. Petersburg). The poets will be joined by poet/translators Julia Dasbach (Philadelphia), Kevin M. F. Platt (Philadelphia), Alexandra Tatarsky (New York; Philadelphia) and Matvei Yankelevich (New York). This is such an incredible lineup! At Columbia University, International Affairs Building (upper level of campus, most easily accessed via main campus – take the bridge over Amsterdam just north of 116th St.), Room 1512, more info here. I’d get there early if I were you. Official start time 6:15 p.m.

Thursday, March 5:

CubaCuba Cuba Cuba! Launch party for the new collection Cuba in Splinters: Eleven Stories from the New Cuba, with translator Hillary Gulley joined by the anthology’s editor (and represented author) Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, and fellow author Lizabel Mónica. They’ll be talking about Cuban literature today and the state of things in Cuba now in light of the recent changes to U.S.–Cuba policy. Americas Society, 680 Park Avenue, $10 for non-members, more information here. 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, March 11:

Publishing Spanish Writers in English. This huge day-long conference features a stellar lineup of publishing professionals from what pretty much looks like all the major aspects and phases of getting Spanish-language books translated into and printed in English. Curated by Valerie Miles, the list features (among quite a number of others from the Spanish-language side of things!) Tina Jordan (American Association of Publishers), editor/translator Jonathan Galassi (Farrar Straus & Giroux), Barbara Epler (New Directions), Morgan Entrekin (Grove Atlantic), Amy Stolls (National Endowment for the Arts), translator Margaret B. Carson (Co-Chair, PEN Translation Committee), Elizabeth Kerr (Norton), Chad Post (Open Letter), Ira Silverberg, Ignacio Dominguez (New Spanish Books), Larry Rother (The New York Times), Edwin Frank (The New York Review of Books), Willing Davidson (The New Yorker), Lorin Stein (The Paris Review), Laura Persciacepe (Riverhead), Sarah Bowlin (Henry Holt) and Guillermo Corral and Cristina Ruiz (Embassy of Spain, Spain-USA Foundation). Plus lots more. The full schedule is posted here. You’ll definitely want to register in advance for this one. Astonishingly, admission is free. King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, 53 Washington Square South, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. followed by a reception chez the Consul General of Spain. Sign up to attend now!

Saturday, March 14:

Adventures in Literary Translation: A Workshop Sponsored by the New York Circle of Translators and the Slavic Languages Division of the American Translators Association, with presentations by Antonina Bouis, G.J. Racz, Lee Fahnestock, Ross Benjamin, Chad Post, Sal Robinson, and Peter Blackstock. Registration fee $75 includes lunch, discounts available for members of several groups, more information here. 15 Barclay Street, Room 430, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Translate with Translationista at Bread Loaf

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 12.58.41 PMThe Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences have a long and distinguished history, and this year for the first time, they will include a Translator’s Conference, the brainchild of Bread Loaf Conference Director Jennifer Grotz. I am honored to have been asked to join the inaugural faculty, which also includes Maureen Freely, Bill Johnston, and Don Share as well as Grotz herself, who, as you no doubt know, is a translator as well as poet. As is customary at Bread Loaf, each conference is comprised of several workshop groups. The translation conference will include five different workshops: one introductory workshop (taught by Jennifer Grotz), a pair of fiction workshops (taught by Maureen Freely and me), a poetry workshop taught by Don Share, and a mixed-genre workshop (Bill Johnston). Translators from all languages are welcome in any of the workshop groups. I am honored to be sharing billing with this dream team of colleagues. The week-long program will also feature lectures and guest speakers, usually in the afternoons (workshops meet in the mornings). I’ve never been to Middlebury before, and I can’t wait – I hear it’s gorgeous up there, and that Bread Loaf is an exciting and inspiring experience. This year’s dates are June 1 – 7, 2015. If you’d like to apply to take part in the conference, I suggest you get your application in ASAP. The deadline is March 15, but applications are evaluated on a rolling basis, so it’s possible for any given workshop to fill up in advance of the deadline. For application information and other details, visit the Bread Loaf website.

Monique Truong on the Art of Translation

Monique-Truong-214x300I’m just back from the opening ceremony of the 2015 Festival Neue Literature and the presentation of the Friedrich Ulfers Prize to legendary editor Robert Weil. There were speeches, good ones, by Weil and his laudator Harold Augenbraum. And as part of the ceremony, Festival Chair Monique Truong gave a welcoming address that turned out to be an eloquent ode to the art of translation. It was lovely. She started out quoting Benjamin, and then launched into thoughts of her own. I especially appreciate what she had to say about what the experience of being translated has meant to her as a writer in terms of contemplating her own work. Here’s an excerpt from her speech:

As an author of two novels that have been translated into thirteen languages, I know firsthand how each of these translations and their respective translators has helped to expand my world. I mean this beyond the sense of my ability to reach new readers. For me, the benefit of being translated begins at the moment of correspondence with the translator. Their questions often require that I re-examine my word choices, my double entendres, my euphemisms, and the implied and secret meanings of my character’s vocabulary. I reveal to my translators the hidden codes of my text. In fact, I consider it less of a revelation and more of an entrustment. I have created my art form, and it is now their turn. I have been fairly compensated for my art form, and they should be as well.

You can read the rest of her address on the Publishing Perspectives website, where it was posted earlier today. And when you’re done reading it, please join us for Festival Neue Literatur, including a panel about literary translation on Saturday afternoon featuring several translator-editor pairs (including me).

Big thanks to Monique Truong for her kind and wise words!

Festival Neue Literatur 2015

FNL2015_logo_quotations_web21Pretty high up on the list of things I like better about February than slushy-salty sidewalks is Festival Neue Literatur, a long-weekend festival that brings six talented younger German-language writers to New York for readings, discussions, and a delicious brunch at NYU’s Deutsches Haus. The festival’s been going on for six years now. For three of them I served as curator, so I know how much work it is to put something like this together. Now that I can just watch from the sidelines, I like the festival even more. Literary translator Tess Lewis has been doing a wonderful job with curating, and the festival is bringing some really interesting writers this year: Marjana Gaponenko and Anna Weidenholzer from Austria, Navid Kermani and Matthias Nawrat from Germany, and Jonas Lüscher and Monique Schwitter from Switzerland. I won’t detail the entire program here; you’ll find all that information on the FnL website. The short version is: an afternoon of conversations with the authors (in English) at Columbia University’s Deutsches Haus on Friday afternoon (open to the public, and followed by a reception); and two events each on Saturday and Sunday with the festival authors joined by local authors Adam Haslett, Eric Banks, Tiphanie Yanique and Eric Jarosinski. Please check the listings for venues, times and RSVP information. And note in particular that the Sunday brunch always books up far in advance, so reserve your seat and plate now!

Also, guess what, @NeinQuarterly (Jarosinski) has been tweeting for FnL. Seriously.

In short, this festival is one of the most fun things can can possibly happen to you in Feburary. You don’t want to miss the chance to improve your month.

I’ll leave you with a word of welcome from the festival’s director, Brittany Hazelwood:

Translation on Tap in NYC, Feb. 16 – 28, 2015

2014_phoenix_cathedral_05February has relented! Just as I was bemoaning the dearth of translation events in the earlier half of the month, all sorts of great offerings for the second half started rolling in. Feast your eyes on this!

Tuesday, Feb. 17:

The Bridge Series this month is all about 2014 Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano. A translator (Mark Polizzotti) and publisher (David. R. Godine) of his work will share the stage with Wall Street Journal fiction critic Sam Sacks to discuss the great French author, who despite receiving the prize of prizes is still too little known in this country. Moderated by Sal Robinson. Note the new Bridge venue: Albertine at 972 Fifth Ave. (between 78th and 79th St.), 7:00 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 20:

Awards Ceremony and Reception for the 2014-2015 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature. This year’s awardees are Rebecca Copeland for her translation of The Goddess Chronicle and Juliet Winters Carpenter for her translation of A True Novel. Columbia University, C.V. Starr East Asian Library, Kent Hall, more information here. 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 21:

Festival Neue Literatur will be going on from Feb. 20-22 – all of it’s worth checking out – but one of the events on Feb. 21 is particularly translationtastic: Bowery Arts & Science at the Bowery Poetry Club will be hosting an FnL event cosponsored by Words Without Borders entitled “For the Love of Translation,” featuring translator + editor pairs discussing particular projects they’ve collaborated on: Tim Mohr talking with Michael Reynolds; Ross Ufberg with Michael Wise; Lisa Boscov-Ellen with Chad Post, and Translationista with Katie Raissian. Moderated by Sal Robinson. More details here. Probably not the worst idea to RSVP. 308 Bowery, 12:30 – 2:30. (Caution: the starting time given on the BPC website is wrong.)

Wednesday, Feb. 25:

Birds of Metal in Flight: An Evening of Poetry with 5+5. If you haven’t been to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Amsterdam Ave. in the past year, you’ve missed out on something spectacular: an incredible pair of enormous phoenixes made of scrap materials flying through the nave. It is truly a sight worth seeing, and they won’t be here much longer. And now you have a particularly good occasion to come see them: an extravaganza of a reading featuring five Chinese and five American poets (and translators): Bei Dao, Charles Bernstein, Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, Pierre Joris, Marilyn Nelson, Ouyang Jianghe, Afaa Weaver, Xi Chuan, Zhai Yongming, and Zhou Zan. All works will be presented bilingually (not sure whether the translating poets in the mix worked on these particular translations). And Xu Bing will be there as well. RSVP required, and I’m thinking this one is likely to fill up, so click the link soon if you’re able to attend. 1047 Amsterdam Ave. at 112th St., 7:00 p.m.

Also Wednesday, Feb. 25:

French Night à la Modiano at the Cornelia Street Cafe, with bilingual readings from three different Patrick Modiano novels, starting with Missing Person, translated by Daniel Weissbort. The readers will include Chris Clarke reading from his translation of Modiano’s 2009 Dans le cafe de la jeunesse perdue, forthcoming from NYRB Classics, and students from NYU’s MA program in Literary Translation reading their translations of excerpts from Modiano’s 2014 Pour que tu ne te perdes pas dans le quartier. More information here. 29 Cornelia Street, 6:00 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 27:

Magnificent Strangeness: An Evening with Yoko Tawada and Rivka Galchen. This event is being posted in violation of Translationista’s strict only-events-featuring-translators policy because of my utterly unabashed love of Yoko Tawada (whom I translate). I don’t want anyone to miss the chance to see her speak and perform as often as possible. And she’ll be in such good company: with Rivka Galchen as conversation partner, moderated by Alys George. This is definitely going to be a memorable evening, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. If you don’t RSVP right now, you might not get in. Deutsches Haus at NYU, 42 Washington Mews, 6:30. p.m.



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