--Happy Hour/Social: Friday evening, Dec. 7, 6:00pm - 8:00pm. Soapstone Market, 4465 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington DC, 20008. Our annual winter social to talk translation, literature, and more -- and most importantly, to meet other local translators! 4465 C
--DC-ALT/Cafe Muse Annual Reading: 7:00 p.m. on Monday, August 20. Visiting translators Alexander Cigale, Mary Kalyna, and Olga Livshin will read from Words for War: New Poems from Ukraine, a remarkable new book with its finger on the pulse of contemporary poetry in Ukraine. Don't miss some of America's most acclaimed translators of Russian and Ukrainian poetry! More details here: https://www.wordworksbooks.org/event/cafe-muse-katherine-e-young-presents-dc-alt-translators/. The reading will take place at the Friendship Heights Village Center, located at 4433 South Park Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD 20815 (metro: Friendship Heights). Tel. (301) 656-2797. All are welcome!
--Happy Hour and P&P reading: Wednesday, September 5, DC-ALT member Lara Vergnaud will discuss and sign copies of Ahmed Bouanani’s The Hospital at Politics and Prose, Union Market (1270 5th Street, NE, Washington, DC). (DC author Sam Munson will also read from his new novel, Dog Symphony.) Details about the reading here.
Prior to the event, join us for a happy hour 6:00 pm-7:00 pm! We will gather at Bidwell Restaurant in Union Market, right around the corner from Politics & Prose (happy hour menu here). If you're not familiar with it, Union Market is a fabulous space, and worth checking out along with the new P&P!
--Translation Open Mic: On Friday, September 28, at Montgomery College, DC-ALT will host the annual “Translatable” Open Mic. Bring your work, and come read! Event to be mc’d by Yvette Neisser and Indran Amirthanayagam.
Doors open at 6:00 p.m. for mingling, refreshments, & Open Mic sign-up.
Open Mic from 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Montgomery College, Cafritz Arts Center, Room CF 101, 930 King Street, Silver Spring, MD 20910
--Open Translation Workshop: Saturday, Oct. 13, 2:00pm, at Eastern Village, 7981 Eastern Ave., Silver Spring. All are welcome to bring a work of translation in progress (poem or short prose) for discussion.
--NEW: Translation Salon!: Two grand masters: Salgado Maranhão and Alexis Levitin, Saturday October 27. 6.30 pm. Salgado Maranhão was born in the impoverished interior of Maranhão, in the northeast of Brazil, where he lived with his mother as an illiterate field worker till the age of fifteen. From these humble beginnings, he has risen to a position as one of the leading poets of his country and probably the leading voice representing the Afro-Brazilian experience.
Alexis Levitin's translations has translated 41 books, mostly of poetry from Portugal, Brazil, and Ecuador. He has received two National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowships and is currently on the roster for the Fulbright International Specialist Program.
Contact email@example.com for location and rsvp.
-Reports from the ALTA conference: Sunday, Nov. 11, 2:00pm, at Eastern Village, 7981 Eastern Ave., Silver Spring. Can’t make it to the American Literary Translators Association conference this fall? No worries! DC-ALT members who are able to attend will share thoughts and readouts, and lead a discussion of the events.
Author/translators Ellen Cassedy and Yermiyahu Ahron Taub came to discuss their translation of Blume Lempel's fiction from the Yiddish.
About Sunday's program
Cassedy and Taub's translation of Blume Lempel won the 2012 Translation Prize awarded by the Yiddish Book Center and was recently published as Oedipus in Brooklyn and Other Stories (Mandel Vilar Press and Dryad Press, 2016). According to Cassedy and Taub, Blume Lempel is a fearless storyteller whose imagination moves between the realistic and the fantastic, the lyrical and the philosophical. Her narratives are masterpieces of poetic imagery and startling modernist touches, suffused with an abiding compassion.
For more information: http://www.ellencassedy.com/about-oedipus-in-brooklyn/
Ellen Cassedy is the author of We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust (University of Nebraska Press, 2012), which won several national awards and was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. She received a 2016 PEN/Heim Translation Grant for her work on Yiddish writer Yenta Mash, the first time the prize has been awarded for Yiddish translation. Visit her website at http://www.ellencassedy.com/.
Yermiyahu Ahron Taub is the author of five books of poetry, including the just published The Education of a Daffodil/Di bildung fun a geln nartstis (2017). Tsugreytndik zikh tsu tantsn: naye Yidishe lider/Preparing to Dance: New Yiddish songs, a CD of nine of his Yiddish poems set to music, was released in 2014. He was honored by the Museum of Jewish Heritage as one of New York’s best emerging Jewish artists and has been nominated four times for a Pushcart Prize and twice for a Best of the Net award. His short stories have appeared in Jewish Fiction .net, The Jewish Literary Journal, and Jewrotica. Please visit his website at https://yataubdotnet.wordpress.com/.
This informal panel discussion and Q&A addressed common questions from emerging literary translators. Experienced literary translators Suzanne Zweizig and Nancy Naomi Carlson shared their experience, insights and tips on a range of topics, including: how to keep up with literature in the source language, how your intended readers affect the translation and selection of original text, and how to go about choosing and approaching publishers for your translation projects.
Find a recap below (kindly submitted by Susan Mockler):
Introductions and General Notifications
Keith Cohen reported briefly on the November 2016 American Translators Association (ATA) national meeting in San Francisco, which he attended. According to Keith, ATA registration fees are very high ($500), but the networking opportunities are well worth it. For example, he spoke with a professor at UMass about developing a course on how to teach translation. Keith reminded DC-ALT members that the next ATA national meeting will be held in Washington in Nov. 2017. There was discussion of representing DC-ALT in some manner at the national meeting. Suggestions included a book exhibit or, at the very least, making brochures available for hand out.
Nancy Naomi Carlson reported on the upcoming Kensington Day of the Book (April 23, 2017), and that there will be a poetry tent where various groups will have 30 minutes for a presentation or reading. There was discussion on whether DC-ALT members would be interested in participating. Nancy is involved in the planning of the day’s events and noted that a reading would be a chance to “sell” translation. Anyone interested or wanting more info can contact Nancy firstname.lastname@example.org.
Main Program: “Translation 101”
The panelists for the discussion of “Translation 101” were Suzanne Zweizig (translation editor at Poet Lore and translator from the German) and Nancy Naomi Carlson (translation editor at Tupelo Quarterly and Blue Lyra Review and author of several collections in translation from the French), with Ting Wang as facilitator. Both panelists responded to questions posed by Ting.
What factors do you use to choose authors or projects?
Suzanne doesn’t translate for publication, so she looks for people whose work she wants to know and tries to keep up with German literature, the language, and women poets who win prizes.
Nancy seeks authors and projects who offer a boost to her life. She has found authors through Robert Bly’s The Winged Energy of Delight and Bigunet and Schulte’s The Craft of Translation.
In a translated work, do you want notes about the culture of the source work?
Suzanne does not want notes about cultural differences and prefers explanation to be incorporated in the translations themselves, although she sees them [notes] as necessary if cultural differences would make the poet or poem inaccessible. She would prefer not to see any necessary notes in a preface that explains a cultural context, but rather as notes at the end of the work.
Nancy: footnotes on the page ruin the flow of the text; she would rather leave a word in its original language than explain it.
How do you go about choosing a publisher to work with?
Nancy: sometimes the publisher comes to her; it is very helpful to meet publishers at venues such as AWP and to ask them straight out what type of work they are looking for. Conversations make publication happen, Nancy notes. Once you get into a relationship with a publisher, they may contact you asking you for more translations or possibly your own creative work. After making contact with a publisher at AWP or other book fairs, follow up with a note. She also suggested being on panels, which makes it easy for publishers or editors to approach you and ask you to submit.
Suzanne reported on her experience as translation editor of Poet Lore. The journal publishes a portfolio translation each year, and it is Suzanne’s job to actively seek out potential poets to feature. In order to do so, she has to know what other journals are publishing.
How and when do you contact the [original] author?
Suzanne: after you locate them on-line, try to get in contact with them. You have to be out there networking. She looks for unpublished or underrepresented cultures.
Nancy contacts the author after the poems are fully translated. Publishers want to see the whole book.
When do you show your translation to the author?
Nancy: this can be a challenge, as you have to convince them that you have the final say.
Suzanne relayed her experience of being asked to translate a Burmese novella. She did the translation work first (with the help of a co-translator), then met with the poet to work out any questions.
Should you show your entire translation to the original author before going to press?
Nancy: yes. It’s about the text and the poet. We (translators) are the vessel through which the art is coming through. She added that she wants the poet to be pleased. Diplomacy and tact are necessary.
During open question and discussion time, the use of a co-translator and how to acknowledge them was discussed. Two main suggestions emerged:
1) If your co-translator doesn’t want a by-line, pay them.
2) Or list their name along with yours, such as: Translated by __________ (name of translator) with _______________ (name of co-translator).
This informative discussion drew a full crowd of translators curious about the ins and outs of applying to various translation grants, fellowships, and residencies.
Katherine Young, winner of a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) translation fellowship, discussed her grant-winning project, the translation of three novellas by Azeri political prisoner Akram Aylisli. During her remarks, she passed around copies of some of the supplemental materials she had prepared during the NEA application process. She encouraged prospective applicants to secure the rights to translate a work before actually translating it and to leave plenty of time to prepare the translation sample and associated paperwork for the application. Among her other suggestions: aim for artistic excellence in the translation sample; be aware that selection panels include people from various professional backgrounds (including academics) who may have conflicting expectations about what’s appropriate in a literary translation; consider choosing a contemporary author, or one whose work is not already available in English, over an author who has already been translated dozens of times; and choose an author whose work you love, as you’ll be living with both author and work for a very long time. She also noted that applications are a matter of public record and that, in the event of an unsuccessful application, an applicant can ask to review his or her materials and read the remarks of the selection panel.
Lara Vergnaud, recipient of a 2013 PEN/Heim Translation Grant and a 2015 French Voices Grant, discussed her experiences applying for and receiving a PEN/Heim Translation Grant, noting that the process is less demanding than the NEA grant. Lara received a PEN/Heim Grant for her translation of Zahia Rahmani’s France, story of a childhood, which was published in 2016 by Yale University Press. She stressed what a great opportunity the PEN grant is for emerging translators as it can offer valuable publicity, support, and potentially lead to a publication contract. She recommended stressing the most unique aspects of a proposed work, beyond its literary merits, in application materials; securing required permissions in advance of the deadline; choosing a lesser-known author over more popular ones; and paying particular attention that the application ‘sells’ the project in question to jurors who may be unfamiliar with the author or book. She noted that while translations grants are sometimes hard to find, there are many resources available from cultural institutes like the Goethe Institute and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy that are worth exploring.
Tanya Paperny, recipient of translation fellowships from Vermont Studio Center and Ledig House, discussed various residency opportunities for translators (below). She also offered several broad suggestions on applications overall: Make the widest case for your translation project. Don't imagine you're speaking to other translators. You may be speaking to writers/artists of any genre. So tell them why your translation project matters, what it will bring to English-language audiences. Finally, re-read your application materials OUT LOUD and ask someone else to review them as well.
Residency: Translation Lab at OMI International Arts Center
Residency: Vermont Studio Center
This celebration of International Translation Day brought together translators and others interested in the field of translation. The conference offered workshops, and opportunities for discussion, networking and career development, and celebration focusing on various aspects of translation, including literary, practical and philosophical dimensions.
The conference opened on September 30, 2016, with "Translatable," the DC Area Literary Translators Network's annual Open Mic event in celebration of International Translation Day. On October 1, the conference offered sessions featuring a variety of presentations and workshops on translation and translation studies, throughout the day. We were delighted to have as our keynote speaker David Bellos, author of the acclaimed Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything.
More details here.
August was Women in Translation Month, and DC-ALT came out in force! On August 15, we joined with the Writer's Center and Café Muse to showcase the work of two award-winning translators, our own Nancy Naomi Carlson (French) and Jesse Lee Kercheval (Spanish), in a reading dedicated to the amazing female writers they translate.
NANCY NAOMI CARLSON is a poet, translator, and editor. She has published three collections of poetry translations, most recently Calazaza’s Delicious Dereliction (Tupelo Press, 2015), poems by Suzanne Dracius (Martinique). Carlson's translation of The Nomads, My Brothers, Go Out to Drink from the Big Dipper (Seagull Books, 2015), poems by Abdourahman Waberi (Djibouti), was a finalist for the 2016 Best Translated Book Award. Carlson earned a 2014 literary translation grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. She teaches at the Writer’s Center and has earned doctorates in foreign language methodology and counselor education.
JESSE LEE KERCHEVAL is the editor of América invertida: An Anthology of Emerging Uruguayan Poets, University of New Mexico Press, 2016. She is the author of 15 books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, as well as a translator, specializing in Uruguayan poetry. Her translations include Invisible Bridge/ El puente invisible: Selected Poems of Circe Maia. She is the Zona Gale Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
DC-ALTers met at the Petworth Citizen & Reading Room to share translation-related successes and updates, play a translation game, and do a mini-reading.
Poet Don Berger discussed the recently published bilingual German version of his poetry and his experience working with his German translator. Read samples of his poetry here.
Poet and publisher Katherine McNamara discussed her collaborative work with the late Dena’ina Athabaskan Alaskan writer Peter Kalifornsky to bring his Native Alaskan oral language, Dena’ina, into written literature. Kalifornsky was one of the last speakers of his dialect of Dena’ina and the first person to bring it into writing.
is a network for literary translators in the D.C. area. Our group is open to anyone with an interest in literary translation to/from any language.