It’s your last chance to participate in our fall campaign! Help us support emerging translators!

This has been our first short-term fall campaign, and we want to thank you for helping us kick it off strong. In the past couple of weeks, we have:

  • announced our five ALTA42 Travel Fellows
  • celebrated the 2018-9 Emerging Translator Mentorship Program mentees’ hard work on our live stream
  • announced seven mentorships for 2020, the most we’ve ever offered!
  • raised $4,302 to our fall campaign

But we’re not done yet. Our campaign is still open till the end of the day, and we have $5,698 to go.

If you love these programs, love seeing what these emerging translators go on to do, and want to help support the literary translation community, we hope you’ll join us and donate. They simply would not be possible without supporters like you.wordswag_1570714632507

No donation is insignificant! Any gift you make—$2, $5, $50, $500, $5,000—will show your solidarity with ALTA as we provide a space and support for emerging translators to enter this community that we know and love. Who supported you? Will you pass it on?

Donate today!

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Rounding Up the 2019 Travel Fellows

2019Fellows

The winners of the 2019 Travel Fellowships, including the fourth annual Peter K. Jansen Memorial Travel Fellowship, are here! Each year, ALTA provides four to six $1,000 fellowships to emerging translators to attend the annual ALTA conference.

This year’s winners were selected by judges Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello, Jim Kates, Sandy Kingery, and Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma. The 2019 ALTA Travel Fellowships are made possible thanks to the generous support of ALTA’s Past Presidents Council, the Peter K. Jansen Memorial Travel Fund, and numerous individual donors. Congratulations to these exceptional emerging translators, chosen from among ninety applicants:

Salazar Monárrez, 2019 Peter K. Jansen Memorial Travel Fellow (Spanish, ASL)
From Mexico by way of California, Salazar Monárrez is a UChicago trained linguist in her final year of a Literary Translation MFA from Queens College. She is currently translating Viento en las montañas by Javier Ortega Urquidi, and endeavouring to develop methodology for literary translation of American Sign Language Poetry. Learn more about Salazar.

Maia Evrona, 2019 ALTA Travel Fellow (Yiddish, Spanish)
Maia Evrona is a poet, prose writer and translator of Yiddish poetry. Her translations of Avrom Sutzkever and Yoysef Kerler have been awarded fellowships from the NEA and the Yiddish Book Center. Her own poetry has been supported with a Fulbright Scholar Award to Spain and Greece. Learn more about Maia.

Caroline Grace Froh, 2019 ALTA Travel Fellow (German)
Caroline Froh holds a BA in English and German literature from Grinnell College. She is currently an MFA candidate in Literary Translation at the University of Iowa, where she is translating works by Jenish-Swiss writer Mariella Mehr. She was the recipient of a 2019 Stanley Travel Fellowship to research and translate Mehr’s work in the national library in Bern, Switzerland. Learn more about Caroline.

Anni Liu, 2019 ALTA Travel Fellow (Chinese – Mandarin)
Anni Liu is a writer, translator, and editor with work published or forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, Pleiades, Waxwing, Cream City Review, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Undocupoets Fellowship and a Katherine Bakeless Nason Scholarship. She holds an MFA from Indiana University and works at Graywolf Press. Learn more about Anni.

Gnaomi Siemens, 2019 ALTA Travel Fellow (Old English, Old Scots, Sumerian)
Gnaomi Siemens holds an MFA from Columbia University School of The Arts, in poetry and literary translation. Her words can be found at Asymptote, Words Without Borders, The Believer, Slice Magazine, Europe Now Journal, The American Journal of Poetry, and American Chordata, among others. She lives in New York City. Learn more about Gnaomi.

If you love seeing the Travel Fellows spotlighted at our conference every year, we hope that you’ll help us keep fostering the work of emerging translators! 2019 marks 25 years of the Travel Fellowships: help us celebrate 25 years and donate to our Fall Campaign! $5, $10, $500, or any amount will help show your commitment to the work of supporting translators like these Fellows as they’re starting out. Donate today! 

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The NTA Countdown to ALTA42: Comemadre

Join us as we count down to ALTA42: Sight and Sound with the National Translation Award in Poetry and Prose long- and shortlisted titles! We will be featuring the titles in alphabetical order alongside blurbs penned by our judges for the National Translation Awards in Poetry and Prose. This year’s prose judges are Bonnie Huie, Charlotte Mandell, and Jeffrey Zuckerman. This year’s judges for poetry are Anna Deeny Morales, Cole Heinowitz, and Sholeh Wolpe.

For quick reference, you may find the NTA longlists here, and the NTA shortlists here. Today we’re shining the spotlight on Prose NTA longlisted title Comemadre:

ComemadreComemadre
by Roque Larraquy
translated from the Spanish by Heather Cleary
(Coffee House Press)

The organism called comemadre is “a plant with acicular leaves whose sap produces (in a leap between taxonomic kingdoms that warrants further study) microscopic larvae”; the Argentine novel called Comemadre is a palimpsest that insistently probes the inconsistencies of theories and realities. A psychiatrist in 1907 is exploring what happens to human heads in the seconds after being cut off; an artist in 2009 is responding to an academic writing on his work even as a vial of the comemadre—which had presumably died out—is discovered. Throughout the book, binaries are explored and shattered, and Heather Cleary’s sly, brilliantly calibrated translation comes through most vividly in the moments where phrases in the earlier half turn out to be drawn from the later half.

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Collective Conversations: An Interview with the Emerging Translators Collective

This month takes us to Michigan, where the Emerging Translators Collective (ETC) is enacting a vision of the future of translation as it might bewere it not constrained by capitalism. Comprising a workshop and micro-press, ETC seeks to, in the words of their manifesto, “open up the space of translation,” through a practice rooted in collaboration and the recognition of literary translation as labor.

Questions by Plüb.

ETC

Megan Berkobien (L) and María Cristina Hall (R)

How would you define the purpose or goal of your collective?

The ETC provides a flexible, working model for collective production, with translators collaborating on every aspect of the publication process (editing, design, and, eventually, the pamphlet-making part!). Careful collaboration, then, is both a means and an end, although it’s much easier said than done. The goal isn’t just producing texts, but about changing the ways we relate to one another as translators and as people: about insisting on mutually supportive practice over competition. 

In a way, we’re building toward a practice that isn’t limited by market-driven logic, which asks publishers to constantly go after an ever-increasing number of readers. Obviously, it’s a prefigurative model in that we’re trying to enact processes that don’t quite fit in our capitalist reality, but we have to start somewhere. And I think translators are some of the best people to take up that work. 

What do you do if you’re unable to meet up for a period of time?

Our local base is still in Ann Arbor, because it grew out of the graduate workshop in literary translation at the University of Michigan. If we can’t meet up for a time, we don’t let it bother us! Really, that’s just part of being a literary translator at this point, since many can’t make a living being a literary translator full-time. And we’re also constantly in touch with one another via email.

You’ve taken the really encouraging stance that paying translators is non-negotiable. What kinds of challenges has that posed for you?

If we, as an industry, are going to get serious about literary translation, then we’ve got to get serious about understanding it as labor. We don’t pay all that much for a chapbook ($50), but for many translators, especially those who are in the earlier stages of their careers, $50 can mean groceries for a week. 

Paying contributors isn’t really a challenge, because we’re not going to create the change we want and need to see unless we start enacting the change ourselves. In fact, I think framing it as a challenge shows just how much we take the translator’s labor for granted. Labor is entitled to all it creates, after all. 

This seems like it has to be a local operation, because of the micro-press side. Do you envision ever being able to expand geographically?

Yes! Not all of our members are in one place at this point, so we’ve had to get creative with how we work online (since it’s not always easy to build relationships through email). In fact, we’ve been trying to get digital workshops going for a while now, but it’s definitely more difficult to coordinate schedules than we anticipated. Let us know if you want to be a guinea pig!

What are your goals for the next year? Ten years?

Oof, ten years! Well, the more immediate goal is to get our digital workshops running and to have a more regular publishing schedule. 

What projects are the ETC members currently working on that they’re particularly excited about? Perhaps a sneak-peek of the ETC’s forthcoming print publication?

We have a few broadsides lined up (featuring work by Maggie Nelson and Anne Carson, who’ve given us the thumbs up!) and an upcoming chapbook by member María Cristina Hall called Malaria Dreams. It’s mind-bending in the best possible way.

How do you feel the close ties to the university help the collective—or will help it in the future?

It’s a mixed bag, for sure. The ETC wouldn’t exist if not for the graduate workshop in literary translation at the University of Michigan. That being said, we haven’t had a formal relationship with the University for two years now, because it meant that we couldn’t pay translators. (I suppose that goes back to your question above!) Now we use Patreon to fund our projects. 

Favorite literary-themed cocktail/mocktail?

Whiskey sour! It was Dorothy Parker’s preferred drink.

You can find the ETC at https://translatorscollective.org/ on Twitter as @ETC_Press.

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The NTA Countdown to ALTA42: The Color of Rivers

Join us as we count down to ALTA42: Sight and Sound with the National Translation Award in Poetry and Prose long- and shortlisted titles! We will be featuring the titles in alphabetical order alongside blurbs penned by our judges for the National Translation Awards in Poetry and Prose. This year’s prose judges are Bonnie Huie, Charlotte Mandell, and Jeffrey Zuckerman. This year’s judges for poetry are Anna Deeny Morales, Cole Heinowitz, and Sholeh Wolpe.

For quick reference, you may find the NTA longlists here, and the NTA shortlists here. Today we’re shining the spotlight on Poetry NTA longlisted title The Color of Rivers:

castro-cover.inddThe Color of Rivers
by Juana Castro
translated from the Spanish by Ana Valverde Osan
(Diálogos)

Ana Valverde Osan has given us The Color of Rivers, the first English language translation of Spanish writer, Juana Castro. In this exquisite work, Castro suggests that extreme cruelty is as simple as the language she makes use of to convey it. However, The Color of Rivers is not just a series of poems that utter the incest of a child, the work of a child, her pregnancy and labor, or the loving of a daughter despite violation. Rather, this is a book about the foundations of ourselves as something we would like to believe unthinkable: incest and rape, but the possibility—yes—also of love. Castro’s and Valverde Osan’s poetry is never self-indulgent or sorrowful. Yet, its language is so seemingly uncomplicated because Castro represents what is humanity’s most deplorable truth: the voice of a child even our greatest poets and our most beautifully rendered languages have violated.

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