2016 ALTA Travel Fellow: Bruna Dantas Lobato, Winner of the 2016 Peter K. Jansen Memorial Travel Fellowship

Bruna Dantas Lobato, 2016 Peter K. Jansen Memorial Travel Fellow (Brazilian bruna-dantas-lobato_photoPortuguese)

Originally from Natal, Brazil, Bruna Dantas Lobato began to teach herself her first sentences in English at the age of seventeen. Learning English changed her life: it made her aware of the failings and strangeness of language, which is to say, it made her become a writer.

She first began translating from English into her native Portuguese at Bennington College, where she earned a BA in literature and Latin American Studies. She tried her hand at excerpts from Annie Dillard’s book of narrative nonfiction Pilgrim at Tinker Creek in a literary translation class taught by translator and mentor Marguerite Feitlowitz. Soon after, she translated Tracy K. Smith’s Pulitzer-winning poems into Portuguese for Brazil’s Jornal Rascunho and committed herself to translating Brazilian literature into English.

It was also at Bennington where she first began writing her own fiction, mostly short stories centering on displaced characters. Before her senior year at the College, she was awarded the Undergraduate Writing Fellowship in Fiction and had the opportunity to study with writers Jill McCorkle and Amy Hempel during the summer residency of Bennington’s MFA program.

After graduation, she returned to her hometown in Brazil and began translating into English Caio Fernando Abreu’s 1989 collection of short stories set during the height of the AIDS epidemic, The Dragons Haven’t Been to Paradisea book she’d first encountered in a high school classroom. As a translator of Brazilian literature, Bruna hopes to traverse the works of writers who report from the margins, essential works that question boundaries and invite her to re-imagine what centering the margins truly means. Most recently, she translated Caio Fernando Abreu’s minimalist short story “Beauty, a Terrible Story” for the Brazil issue of Words without Borders.

Bruna is currently an MFA candidate in Fiction at New York University, where she has studied under Joyce Carol Oates, Hannah Tinti, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Anne Enright. At NYU, she also teaches the undergraduate creative-writing course Introduction to Fiction & Poetry, and serves as the Fiction Editor of Washington Square Review. In the past, she’s served as the Assistant International Editor of Washington Square and the Editor-at-Large for Brazil of Asymptote Journal.

In addition to her work as a translator of poetry and prose, Bruna contributes monthly essays to the Ploughshares blog and has written about literature in translation for BOMB, The Millions, The Christian Science Monitor, Asymptote, Music & Literature, and elsewhere. She is currently at work on a collection of linked stories about culture and family in Brazil and the United States.

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