Anne Greeott (2015 ALTA Travel Fellow)

annegreeott_300dpi_allcorrectAnne grew up near Hood Canal and the Olympic Mountains in the Pacific Northwest.

She has always been an avid reader, though she didn’t try her hand at literary translation until she translated an excerpt of a racy Spanish play far beyond her skills for her undergraduate honors project. Much of the success of that project was due to her professor and mentor, Kathryn Bartholomew, who approved the proposal and then stuck with it through endless weekend revision sessions. Anne even lugged an unabridged bilingual dictionary on a backpacking trip in the North Cascades in order to finish the project and graduate with her degree in Spanish and history.

Immediately after graduating, Anne moved to Florence, Italy in order to look for work teaching English. She managed to scrape by teaching for two years while learning the language by sharing housing with Italian university students. A Florentine friend plied her with books by Antonio Tabucchi, Alessandro Baricco, and Italo Calvino, and her love of Italian fiction in the original language began.

Later while pursuing her MA in Italian with Middlebury College, she completed a thesis project in translation, this time of Baricco’s then-recent novel Oceano Mare (Ocean Sea), despite her professor’s protests of, “Ma Baricco è un ragazzo!” (But Baricco’s just a kid!). During the course of that degree Anne was introduced to the writing of Mario Luzi, a Florentine poet, critic, playwright, and translator. She followed his work for the next several years until his death in 2005, upon which the journal Poesia published an extensive homage to Luzi’s seventy-year career. Reading that selection of poems piqued Anne’s interest and she delved into a hobby of fiddling around with versions of them in English in her spare time in the evenings after her day job teaching high school and middle school.

Then in 2009 on the internet Anne discovered the American Literary Translators Association and attended their conference in Pasadena, where to her delight she found hundreds of people impassioned about so many of the nerdy particulars of language which had held her in rapt solitude for hours. She signed up. After a few more years of tinkering with her translations and doing some academic sleuthing around, she decided to pack her old Volvo to the gills and move to Fayetteville, Arkansas to begin an MFA in creative writing and literary translation. There, under the expert guidance of professors John DuVal and Geoff Brock she continued to focus and refine her translation practice.

In 2014, a huge helping of luck and a good two years of drafting the application landed her a Fulbright grant to research and translate the poetry of Luzi in Florence, Italy, for which she is deeply grateful. Besides allowing for ample research and translation, this grant fostered many rich connections with Italian colleagues in the field of translation and writing. In particular, Anne was able to meet Lorenza Ronzano, the author of the novel Zolfo (Sulfur), which she had begun translating that spring. As a team, the two of them presented Zolfo at the Salone Internazionale del Libro in Turin as well as in a literary café in Florence. Anne expects this and other connections from her year in Florence to yield fruitful collaborations for years to come.

About Erica Mena

Erica Mena is a Puerto Rican poet, translator, and book artist. Pronouns: they/them.
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1 Response to Anne Greeott (2015 ALTA Travel Fellow)

  1. Pingback: Meet the 2015 ALTA Fellows! | ALTA Blog

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