Megan Berkobien (2014 ALTA Fellow)

Megan BerkobienMegan Berkobien is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan. She holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from the same university, where she founded the department’s undergraduate translation journal, Canon Translation Review. Her time at Michigan was and continues to be marked by a sense of exploration into the (in)felicities of translation alongside several notable professor-translators, including Christi Merrill, Anton Shammas, and Benjamin Paloff (to all of whom she is forever grateful).

As so often happens, in the beginning was the Verbo. But high school Spanish didn’t serve Megan much; she had read too much Bulgakov and watched Woody Allen’s Love & Death far too many times not to tread her toes on rockier terrain. Her freshman year at university was spent amidst awkward half-Russian conversations until she could finally complain about the cold and the government in an adequate accent. She almost bought a long fur coat that winter.

But Megan soon felt a growing restlessness to pursue other linguistic routes. After fretting over her waning love affair with the Russian language, Megan quickly enrolled in a semi-immersive Spanish program where she began to map out her interests in women’s writing in Latin America & Spain. Her fortuitous virtual encounter with esteemed author and critic Cristina Peri Rossi brought about her first major translation project, along with the not-so-trivial fringe benefit of beginning an inspired working relationship that has now spanned five years.

Megan’s scholarly interests include minor languages in Spain, media studies, museum studies, and, of course, the poetics & pragmatics of translation theory. For her, these areas coalesce in the remediated space of digital translation publishing. She had the chance to present a paper on the magazines Words without Borders and Asymptote (both of which she has had the pleasure of working for in some editorial aspect) and their theoretical implications for the discipline at the MLA annual conference in January 2014. She is also part of the Translation Networks project at Michigan, where she is working alongside a team of designers and engineers to help dream up an interactive digital interface to house the various translation-oriented objects within the diverse museum collections around campus.

Megan has also recently started working with contemporary Catalan texts as a means to better study the translational divides in contemporary Spain. She spent this previous summer researching and translating in Barcelona, where she had the chance to feel out the Catalan literary scene and drink too much coffee with some of the city’s many characters. She is currently making her way through Galician textbooks as well.

These days she finds herself haunting libraries, suitcases, and the folds of comfy armchairs (her own, most often) for new projects to populate the various intellectual & academic constellations that compose her universe. Megan’s work has been featured in Words without Borders, Palabras Errantes, and Asymptote, to name a few. Her first book-length translation—Cristina Peri Rossi’s radiant novella Strange Flying Objects—is forthcoming
from Ox and Pigeon in 2015.

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About Erica Mena

Erica Mena is a boricua, genderqueer, latinx poet, translator, and book artist.
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