ALTA Fellow: Nikki Settelmeyer

Nikki Settelmeyer grew up in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where she received her B.A. in English and Spanish from the University of North Dakota.

While pursuing her degree at UND, Nikki had the opportunity to work both professionally and academically in the Spanish department, an experience that was instrumental to her passion for Spanish language and culture.  She was particularly influenced by her professor and mentor, Dr. Claudia Routon, who also translates Spanish to English.  A viewing of Pedro Almódovar’s Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown), as per Dr. Routon’s suggestion, was a turning point for Nikki after which all things Spanish became an obsession.

Nikki studied abroad at the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Toledo, Spain, and later returned to Toledo and UCLM as an instructor to teach English. For Nikki, love for Spain begins at the Barajas airport in Madrid.  The smell of strong coffee and cigarettes, pastries, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and cigarette butts on the floor. Siesta and fiesta. Men who masturbate in the parks and in the ancient ruins of a castle in Toledo she passed through each day on the way to the bus. Rebajas! (Sales!) in store windows and going to movies where the seats are assigned and the people abide by the seat numbers on their tickets, even if there are only ten people in a theatre with seating for 100.

In addition to being fascinated with Spanish, Nikki was also very interested in creative writing, and took several writing classes at the University of North Dakota.  While doing so, she worked with Professor Liz Harris, a writer and translator at UND who recognized in Nikki a potential translator.  Accordingly, Nikki was introduced to John DuVal, professor of English and Translation Studies at the University of Arkansas, and soon after she was off to Fayetteville, Arkansas, where she is pursuing an MFA in Literary Translation.

Nikki is currently translating short story collections by Spanish author, Hernán Migoya.  She is finishing Todas Putas, and will follow it up with the sequel, Putas es poco.  Her translations of Migoya’s work have appeared in Moon City Review and Art Amiss literary magazines.  Nikki also writes fiction and nonfiction and has been published in North Country and Art Amiss.  She has received several prizes for her fiction including the Julia Porter Cape Scholarship, The Boen Fiction Award, and the Tiffany Award, all from the University of North Dakota.  She received the Lily Peter Fellowship for Translation from the University of Arkansas.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas in May of 2012, Nikki hopes to continue translating and working closely with the Spanish language.  She plans to move to Phoenix to be closer to some of her family, especially her grandma Margaret.  Until then, she will enjoy the beauty of Arkansas and her Fayetteville family.

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About Erica Mena

Erica Mena is a boricua, genderqueer, latinx poet, translator, and book artist.
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2 Responses to ALTA Fellow: Nikki Settelmeyer

  1. Pingback: PEN.org » Blog Archive Susan Bernofsky: Generation T - PEN.org

  2. How wonderful you were able to study in Toledo. I took the train there from Madrid and thought it was an excellent place to learn about Spain without being in the big city. At the time my husband and I had bought an apartment in Torrox. Great Mediterranean view, but not much academic activity. Looking forward to meeting you at ALTA.
    Angela McEwan (B.A. English, Univ. of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Texas; M.A. Spanish, UC Irvine, CA.)

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