Monday, November 28, 2011

Submissions call: Alchemy

Alchemy, a new journal of translation out of the UCSD Literature Department, is now accepting student submissions for its first issue. The editors are looking for work that engages translation in both traditional and innovative ways.To submit, you must currently be a student, and are asked to include the name of your school and, if applicable, your program of study. When submitting, send the source text along with your translations -- up to five pages of poetry or ten pages of prose -- to with a subject line indicating the genre: Poetry, Fiction, Cover Art, etc. Submissions received by December 5, 2011 will receive priority for the first issue and any submissions thereafter will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Submissions: Ozone Park

The literary journal Ozone Park is looking for submissions in translation, to be reviewed up to the end of the reading period, December 8. The editors accept electronic submissions in the categories of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, short plays and play excerpts, literary translation, and comics. All submissions to Ozone Park must be original, previously unpublished work in English, should include a cover letter, and should consist of up to three poems, one ten-page short play or play excerpt, or no more than 7500 words. Manuscripts should be sent as a single .doc or .rtf file. Send comics as .jpg, .gif, .tif, or .png image files, and should be submitted electronically to For all other inquiries, please send an email to Translated work should include both an English translation and a copy of the work in the original language. Although Ozone Park Journal is responsible for securing foreign rights for translations, translators should determine that rights ar available.

McCrum on the surge

The dream of a true universal language is in the end dependent on perfect translation. Aside from the lessons of Babel, the history of the Bible istelf [sic] offers other cautionary tales, particularly this year – the 400th anniversary of that great cathedral of language, the King James Bible. The anniversary has proved to be both a cause for celebration and for reflection on whether there can ever be an ideal or final version of such a work. Isn't every new rendering bound to reflect the social and cultural context in which its translator works?
-- Emphasis added. To answer his question -- well, yes; though for "bound to" read "privileged to", with all the implications thereof. This quote is taken from Robert McCrum's essay reflecting on the "worldwide upsurge in demand for English versions of foreign bestsellers" in The Guardian. The word "surge" in my ear has a distinctly liquid register, as in the . Maybe this is a proscriptive metaphor, since I'd much rather see the flow of literature be cyclical -- as in the hydrological cycle, where the medium (here, letters) is by rounds gathered and distributed, homogenized and partitioned, made liquid and made vapor -- rather than linear, with texts flowing only ever down from their sources (in the different mountains of various homelands) into the ocean, sinking, until the source peters out. Pardon the flight of fancy; this contributor was reading The Agony and the Ecstasy all this holiday weekend, and he is now sodden with sentimentality.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Announcing an official Tranströmer website

We're pleased to publicize an announcement by Peter Last: "On October 6, 2011, Tomas Tranströmer of Stockholm was announced by the Swedish Nobel Academy as the winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature. His books have been translated into more than 60 languages, and he is among the most widely read poets of the present time. I am pleased to announce the launch of, a new website devoted to the life and poetry of Tranströmer, following more than a year of development. This site has his blessing; plans are coming together for a Swedish language mirror site to the current English language site to launch in 2012."

The site seems to be going well so far! According to Last,  "On October 6, the day of the Nobel Prize announcement, the website received 35,000 hits from all over the world. There have been 65,000 unique visitors in ten days to the Tranströmer website from Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Japan, Pakistan, Russia, Spain, etc."

Last recommends the following books to those interested in the work of this Nobel Prizer-winning poet:
  • Friends, You Drank Some Darkness: Three Swedish Poets – Harry Martinson, Gunnar Ekelof, and Tomas Tranströmer, tr. Robert Bly, Beacon Press, 1975 
  • The Half-Finished Heaven, tr. Robert Bly, Graywolf Press, 2001 
  • The Sorrow Gondola, Michael McGriff and Mikaela Grassl, Green Integer, 2010 
  • New Collected Poems, tr. Robin Fulton, Bloodaxe Books, 2011
  • Microgramas ("Micrograms"), by  Jorge Carrera Andrade, with translations by J. Enrique Ojeda & Steven Ford Brown, Orogenia, 2007
Tranströmer cites Carrera Andrade as a major influence on his own work; here is a sample from Microgramas, "OSTIÓN" ("Oyster"):
Ostión de dos tapas:
tu cofre de calcio
guarda el manuscrito
de algún buque náufrago.

Oyster with two covers:
your calcium jewel case
guards the manuscript
of some wrecked ship.
Last has provided a small e-book, in English and Swedish, of poems by Tranströmer, published in 1987. Email Pusteblume if you'd like us to send you a copy.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Submissions open for Toad Press chapbook series

Toad Press reads submissions of chapbook-length translations each year between October 1 and December 31. The editors accept online submissions only. Submissions should be consist of 14-24 pages of poetry or prose, cover sheet with name and contact information, table of contents (if applicable), and acknowledgments via their Submishmash system. Toad Press publishes between 1 and 3 chapbooks a year. Chapbooks accepted for publication will appear the following Summer/Fall. Payment is in copies only. There is no reading fee.

Questions? Take a look at their Frequently Asked Questions. If you still have questions, the editors can be reached via email.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Transtromer Squabble

Tomas Transtromer was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature this month. In recognition of the event, the editors of the Times Literary Supplement dredged out of their archives an interesting dispute which followed their publication (in 2007) of a review by Alan Brownjohn of Robin Robertson's versions of Transtromer's poems. Two weeks after the review appeared, a the Scottish poet Robin Fulton accused Robinson of doing a manqué job, and what's worse, of borrowing "excessively" from his own translations: "An excessively large number of Robertson's lines are identical to mine in my Transtromer translations... His versions are neither dependable translations nor independent imitations: they show a cavalier disregard for Transtromer's texts and I have yet to see a reviewer able or willing to say so." The exchange which ensued touches on many touchy topics -- whether a poet should translate work from a language she or he does not know, or know well; whether the use of another's work constitutes allusion, appropriation or theft; and so on.

Monday, October 17, 2011

"The Matter with Words", a talk with Tim Parks

If you're near Kenmore Square in Boston tomorrow, the ASLCW invites you to claim at seat in library conference room of the BU Editorial Institute at 5:15 for a talk with novelist and translator Tim Parks.

Born in Manchester in 1954, Tim Parks studied at Cambridge and Harvard before moving permanently to Italy in 1981. Author of three bestselling books on Italy, plus a dozen novels, including the Booker short-listed Europa, he has translated works by Moravia, Calvino, Calasso and, most recently, Machiavelli. While running a post-graduate degree course in translation at IULM University, Milan, he writes regularly for the LRB and the NYRB. His non-fiction works include Translating Style, a literary approach to translation problems; Medici Money, an account of the relation between banking, the Church and art in the 15th century; and, most recently, Teach Us to Sit Still.

That's 5:15 p.m., The Editorial Institute, 143 Bay State Road, Boston University.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Eugene Nida, Bible translator: 1914-2011

Eugene Nida passed away last Thursday, August 23rd, at the age of 96. As founder of the Eugene Institute for Biblical Scholarship, and overseer of translations for the American Bible Society, Mr. Nida coordinated the work of hundreds of translators all over the world and helped to make the world's most-published book accessible to the speakers of many of the world's languages.

Mr. Nida, a linguist, is given credit for developing and promoting a theory of "dynamic" or functional equivalence, which he reasoned was a more effective means of providing access to the Biblical text than literal translations which transmit Biblical concepts -- a camel through the eye of a needle, my father's mansions, nothing new under the sun -- into the new language without taking cultural and idiomatic differences. In a remembrance titled "Spreading the Word in Hundreds of Tongues", Stephen Miller writing for The Wall Street Journal notes "The results [of functional equivalence] often worked better than literal translation but can sound odd when translated back into English. For instance 'Love the Lord with all your heart' became 'with all your liver' in some west African languages." ... "But in Japan Mr. Nida encountered resistance to introducing cultural clarity [by using idioms belonging to the target language, rather than importing the idioms of the Biblical source]. They said, 'If we made the Bible that clear, what would preachers have to do?'"

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation

Translation is the medium through which American readers gain greater access to the world. By providing us with as direct a connection as possible to the individual voice of the author, translation provides a window into the heart of a culture.

— Cliff Becker, May 16, 2005
In collaboration with White Pine Press and the Cliff Becker Endowment for the Literary Arts, the has launched an annual publication prize in translation. The Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation will produce one volume of literary translation in English, annually, beginning in the fall of 2012. These volumes initially will be bi-lingual editions of poetry, but as the endowment grows we will begin to include literary fiction and nonfiction in the prize rotation.
This year's judge is Willis Barnstone.

  • 80-140 pp., bi-lingual manuscripts in original, English translations of poetry.
  • TWO title pages—ONE bearing only the title of the work and name of the non-English poet, and ONE bearing as well the name and contact information of the English translator.
  • A current listing of acknowledgments, indicating permission of the original poet or his/her estate, as applicable, and indicating any previous publication of individual poems.
  • No other indication of the translator's identity may appear anywhere in the submitted manuscript.
  • $20 submission fee made payable to The University of Missouri, with Cliff Becker Endowment for the Literary Arts written on the "memo" line.
  • Manuscripts will not be returned, but you must include a letter-sized SASE for notification of results.
The translator of the winning manuscript will receive a standard publication contract with White Pine Press yielding a bi-lingual edition of 1000 copies of approximately 128 pages. In lieu of an advance against royalties, the translator will receive a prize of $500. Submissions packets should be sent to: The Cliff Becker Book Prize, Department of English, Tate Hall 107, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211. Postmark Deadline: October 1, 2011.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A bit about collaborative translation at Tufts

Classicist Marie-Claire A. Beaulieu has conscripted undergraduate and graduate students -- now over a dozen of them -- to identify and translate orphan texts in the Tisch Library Miscellany Collection from Latin to English. According to a "five-minute" interview with her at, she has turned these students into "historical sleuths, opening the cold case of the centuries-old texts." From the interview:
Q. Do you think such "crowd" translation, in which the participants aren't experts but just students interested in the subject, is the future in your field?

A. Definitely. With the humanities becoming so digitized, we're working with larger and larger collections. Someone doesn't need to be an absolute expert on a manuscript to translate it. If you give an undergraduate the proper tools, they can do a fantastic job. This is something my colleagues in the sciences have realized for a very long time. Undergraduates frequently work in labs on major projects. So, absolutely, I think in the humanities that is the future as well.

Funding available for French author visits

The French Embassy is reviewing applications for "French Authors on Tour", a program which provides financial aid to American institutions wishing to invite and play host to French authors for book signings, and symposia. Contact: Authors on Tour, Book Department, Cultural Services of the French Embassy, 972 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY, 10021.

Award announcement for translations from Japanese

Translations of Japanese literature to English may be submitted for consideration for the Japan-U.S. Friendship Committee Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature. Contact: Donald Keene Center of
Japanese Culture, Columbia University, 116th Street and Broadway, New York, NY, 10027, or by phone, 212-854-5036.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Translate in the Catskills: August 12-14, 2011

Over at Translate in the Catskills, Corinne McKayreports: "It’s official! Translate in the Catskills (a.k.a. 'Style in Translation'”) is back by popular demand, from August 12-14, 2011.Like Translate in the Catskills 2009, the 2011 session will be held at the beautiful and historic Sugar Maples Center for Creative Arts in the hamlet of Maplecrest, New York." 

2009 participants said…
"The company was the best, the atmosphere unbeatable, and it was so deeply satisfying and energizing to work together – although it felt more like calm, focused play in that comfortable, casual setup, with natural beauty all around us. I’ve never experienced anything like it."

"Thanks to my fellow speakers, I have explored new ways to do just that – even in the seemingly “dry” world of financial translation. Que demander de plus ? Many thanks to all."

"Since I attended Translate in the Catskills 2009, my clients have complimented my writing more than they did in the previous six years combined."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

On translating Rilke’s Duineser Elegien

By translating the Duino Elegies, we have found that the words, like doors, are less statements about something than invitations into an expanding architecture. As we have lingered with the words, translating has offered a wonderful entrance into the Elegies’ shifting world, in which, Rilke said, “the eternal thing … possess[es] the unheard of, unsurpassable intensity of … inner equivalents.” How to begin to translate this world?
 -- from Leonore Hildebrandt & Tony Brinkley's translators' note in the Spring 2011 issue of Cerise Press

Friday, May 13, 2011

Google’s Real-Life Babelfish Will Translate the World

Before the Internet, the main source material for these translations had been corpuses such as UN documents that had been translated into multiple languages. But the web had produced an unbelievable treasure trove — and Google's indexes made it easy for its engineers to mine billions of documents, unearthing even the most obscure efforts at translating one document or blog post from one language to another. Even an amateurish translation could provide some degree of knowledge, but Google's algorithms could figure out which translations were the best by using the same principles that Google used to identify important websites. "At Google," says Och, with dry understatement, "we have large amounts of data and the corresponding computation of resources we need to build very, very, very good systems."
 -- Steven Levy, from his book In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives, via an excerpt published at Gizmodo (emphasis added)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

CFP: Translations 2011: Cross-Cultural Awareness through Poetry

Translations 2011: Cross-Cultural Awareness through Poetry
Bates College, Lewiston, Maine
International Conference: October 27 – 29, 2011
Deadline for proposals: June 20, 2011

The language departments at Bates College invite proposals for a scholarly conference to be held in conjunction with the second annual Bates International Poetry Festival, Translations 2011: Cross-Cultural Awareness through Poetry.

Starting from the premise that translation involves not only the obvious attempt to find language equivalencies, but also a deep and sensitive awareness of cultural diversity, and that this awareness finds its most concentrated expression in the translation of poetry, the organizers are looking for scholarly papers that engage with poetry and translation as cross-cultural practices. In keeping with the theme of the festival, papers reflecting on the translation of poetry from a theoretical, practical, or pedagogical viewpoint or on poetry as translation/mediation/negotiation between languages and cultures are especially welcome. Papers dealing with issues of translation in other genres and considering the potential, as well as limits, of translation in cross-cultural exchanges will be likewise considered.

The papers can address any languages, historical periods, or co(n)texts (such as gender, nationality, ethnicity, socio-historical events, market conditions, audiences, etc.). The length of individual presentations will be 20 minutes, and the language of the conference will be English. We plan to publish a volume of selected papers.

Please send abstracts of 250 words and a short bio by June 20, 2011, to Raluca Cernahoschi, Department of German and Russian Studies.

For more information about the festival, contact Claudia Aburto Guzmán, Department of Spanish.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Mena on Grossman on ideocentrism

Translation leaves a mark on the new language, introducing new words, rhythms, images, metaphors, etc. But "it doesn’t sound like English” is one of the most common criticisms of translation to be bandied about by critics and readers.

In fact, there’s a story (possibly apocryphal, but still) that someone in the process of publishing Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being objected to the title because it ‘didn’t sound like English’ and would drive potential readers away. The translator had to fight for the title, and in doing so created a phrase that not only loosely echoes Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest to my ear, but altered the rhythms of language and has been imitated over and over again since. So I’m wary of this demand, that it must “sound like English.” Because what does that really mean, and who decides?
-- Erica Mena, exploring the theme of sounding-like-Englishness on her blog Alluringly Short, on the occasion of hearing Edith Grossman speak at Boston University last month (emphasis mine). 

The Better Bibles Blog takes up the same topic, albeit to understand the more narrow issue of whether any given translation of the Bible should be presented in the idiom of its composition, or of its audience.

Mena, beyond her blogging, is an active member of ALTA and of the editorial team behind Anomalous Press.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Call for Submissions: Inventory #2

Inventory publishes thoughtful translations and focuses critical attention on translation theory and practice. Based in Princeton University’s Department of Comparative Literature, Inventory  finds and catalogues original translations of poetry and prose from any language into English, provides critical texts on the subject of translation, and offers suggestions by leaders in various fields of translation work left to be done.

The submission deadline for Inventory Number 2 is June 1, 2011. The editors are seeking original translations of poetry and prose, from any language – ancient or modern – into English; as well as critical essays on translation. They welcome new translations of previously translated work, and  encourage our translators to engage imaginatively with the conventions and possibilities of literary translation.

Poetry submissions should include 3-6 poems (no more than five pages), and fiction submissions should not exceed 2000 words. Excerpts are accepted, but  should be accompanied by a single-paragraph summary of the full work. Please attach a copy of all pieces in their first language.

Submissions of critical work should not exceed 2000 words and should focus on the topic of translation. Writers are encouraged not to limit their focus to the work of a single writer, but rather to address themselves to a larger conversation on contemporary artistic translation.

Submissions should be directed to, indicating in the subject line the genre and first language of the submission, if applicable. The editors ask that you include in the body of your email a brief paragraph describing the piece's translation history, as well any relevant information about why you have chosen to translate the piece at this time. Published writers retain copyright of their material and are free to publish again elsewhere.

The editors regret that they can accept unsolicited submissions by email only: with any questions. Advisory Board: Michael Wood / Lawrence Venuti / Susan Stewart / Paul Muldoon / Eduardo Cadava / Peter Brooks / Susan Bernofsky / Sandra Bermann

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Translation & Technology seminar at Harvard

A Seminar/Workshop with Gregory Crane, Michael Kellogg & Laura Healy

Thursday, April 7, 5:00pm

Today's translators no longer have to rely on the largest bilingual dictionary they can find. Computers and the Internet provide faster and more extensive access to old and new reference tools: from dictionaries and thesauruses to blogs and forums. Michael Kellogg, founder of, and Gregory Crane, editor in chief of The Perseus Project at Tufts University, will be joined by translator Laura Healy (translator of Roberto Bolano’s The Romantic Dogs) in a discussion of the practical uses of these technologies during the process of translation, focusing on key resources, useful software and time-saving shortcuts. The seminar will culminate with an interactive project with the audience.

Co-sponsored by the Woodberry Poetry Room, Harvard Review and Zoland Poetry.

Woodberry Poetry Room, Lamont Library, Room 330
Free and open to the public.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Arctic Poems, Vicente Huidobro, tr. Nathan Hoks, from Toad Press

From a brief review in molussus, "an online broadside of world literature":
Claremont, California-based Toad Press publishes the most consistently interesting contemporary chapbook series in America—to my knowledge—with their International Chapbook Series. Its most recent addition is a selection of short lyrics by [Vicente] Huidobro (1893 – 1948), the Chilean-born avant-garde poet who wrote the book-length Altazor, most recently republished in Eliot Weinberger’s translation by Wesleyan University Press in 2004.
 Read more about Arctic Poems, Nathan Hoks' new translation of Huidobro's verse, at the Toad Press website

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New journal looking for translations of poetry

Martin Rock, editor-in-chief of a new online journal to be launched this April under the title Loaded Bicycle, is eager to review submissions of translations of poetry for the site. Persons interested in being in this first issue may email Martin with submissions or questions, with "Translation Submission" as the subject line.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Read it in the original

No translation should ever be regarded as an adequate substitute for the original. Any literary translation is successful only if it directs attention to the original and makes access to it seem desirable. The editor still remembers a bar mitzvah present he received almost five decades ago in the city where Karl Kraus had died but a few months previously: a selection from the Hebrew poetry of Chaim Nachman Bialik in German translation. let an adaptation of the final message of that book's translator conclude these remarks: "Learn German, gentle reader, and read Karl Kraus in the original!"
-- Editor Harry Zohn, in his introduction (p.27) to In These Great Times, a Karl Kraus reader published by Carcanet Press in 1984. Emphasis mine; the image above is taken from the same books.

While one is acquiring sufficient Hebrew to read Bialik and German to read Kraus in their original languages, the translated writings available in editions by Penguin and University of Chicago Press, respectively, are a good place to start for a taste. (Cross-posted from The Wonder Reflex)