My Year in Translation

2011 has been an amazing year. It took me to my grandmother’s birthplace in Poland, to memories of Hurricane Katrina, and to classrooms at Columbia University and Queens College of the City University of New York. It saw my translation of a book by Robert Walser go into production, and another one follow close behind. It found me publishing my first book of translated poems and studying the language of the 19th century so as to find the words to tell a Swiss horror story about a spider.

Because of my involvement with Occupy Wall Street beginning in late September, I have spent less time writing Translationista than used to be my habit; meanwhile I’ve been writing about OWS for the PEN American Center and the blog Occupy | Decolonize | Liberate.

As readers of Translationista know, I helped found the Occupy Wall Street Translation Working Group, which participates in OWS outreach, providing translations into many different languages of OWS documents on the official website. We are always looking for new members; you can find more information about us here. We also translate articles for the foreign-language editions of the Occupied Wall Street Journal – individual articles are posted on the OWSJ website.

My work with OWS has been inspiring, heartening, thrilling. I have seen so many people from so many different backgrounds and points of view come together at our General Assemblies to talk about some of the largest problems facing our society – the things that keep so many in this wealthy country from prospering. Whether the issue is education, housing, healthcare, jobs, you name it – most of the answers can be found by following the money trail; and the laws of the United States are currently set up in such a way as to disproportionately favor the wealthy and allow large corporations to exert undue influence over our political process, causing these inequities to persist. Change is desperately needed, and despite all his lovely campaign promises, Barack Obama has not been doing much of anything to end the plutocracy and bring us back to democracy again. He turns out to be just as indebted to the big banks and corporations as the Republicans we voted out of office when we elected him. In fact, a study by the Sunlight Foundation published this October revealed that Obama has received more contributions from Wall Street than any other president in the last 20 years, including George W. Bush. It is time for the people to stand up and demand government accountability; and this is just what has been happening all fall across the country. Don’t believe the media reports declaring the Occupy movement dead. The newspapers making these claims are governed by the very corporate interests our movement threatens. In fact, Occupy is alive and well, and our work continues, despite the attacks – including, here in New York, the violent and illegal eviction of protesters from Zuccotti Park by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in November.

In the words of Robert Walser, “When a year stops, another instantly commences, as if one were turning the page.” Thanks and hugs to all of you who read their way through 2011 along with me. I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes next.

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