Meet the 2020 Emerging Translator Mentorship Program Mentors!

2020 Mentors_All_Alternate

L to R: Kareem James Abu-Zeid; Mara Faye Lethem; Jennifer Feeley; Janet Hong; Bill Johnston; Joyelle McSweeney; Marian Schwartz

ALTA is delighted to introduce the 2020 Emerging Translator Mentorship Program mentors! The ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorship Program is designed to establish and facilitate a close working relationship between an experienced translator and an emerging translator on a project selected by the emerging translator. ALTA’s Emerging Translator Mentorship Program was founded by former ALTA board member Allison M. Charette. This applications for the 2020 mentorship program cycle will open September 9 on our Submittable page.

This year, we’re excited to offer seven mentorships: Non-language-specific, non-genre-specific, with mentor Bill Johnston; Arabic poetry or prose with mentor Kareem James Abu-Zeid; Catalan poetry or prose, with mentor Mara Faye Lethem; poetry from Hong Kong, with mentor Jennifer Feeley; Korean prose with Janet Hong; Korean poetry with Joyelle McSweeney; and Russian prose, with mentor Marian Schwartz. Find out more about them below!

The 2020 mentorships are offered by ALTA in partnership with AmazonCrossing, the A. M. Qattan Foundation, the Hong Kong Poetry Festival Foundation, the Institut Ramon LlullThe Russian Federation Institute for Literary Translation and the Literature Translation Institute of Korea.

Kareem James Abu-Zeid is a translator of poets and novelists from across the Arab world. His work has earned him a National Endowment for the Arts grant (2018), PEN Center USA’s Translation Prize (2017), Poetry Magazine’s translation prize (2014), the Northern California Book Award in Poetry (2015), and residencies from the Banff Centre and the Lannan Foundation, among other honors. He has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley, and has been a Fulbright Research Fellow in Germany, and a CASA Fellow in Egypt. The online hub for his work is www.kareemjamesabuzeid.com.


Mara Faye Lethem has translated novels from the Catalan by Marta Orriols, Jaume Cabré, Albert Sánchez Piñol, Marc Pastor, Toni Sala, Eduard Márquez, and Alicia Kopf, among others. Her work has appeared in GrantaThe Paris Review and McSweeney’s, and been recognized with two English PEN Awards and two International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award nominations. She writes the New Catalan Fiction catalogue each year for the Institut Ramon Llull, and wrote the application that earned Barcelona designation as a UNESCO City of Literature. She lives between Brooklyn and Barcelona, and is currently working on a novel by Max Besora.


Jennifer Feeley is the translator of Not Written Words: Selected Poetry of Xi Xi (Zephyr Press and MCCM Creations, 2016), for which she won the 2017 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize and which received a 2017 Hong Kong Publishing Biennial Award in Literature and Fiction. She is the translator of the first two books in the White Fox series by Chen Jiatong (Chicken House Books), and her translation of the selected works of Shi Tiesheng is forthcoming from Polymorph Editions. She was awarded a 2019 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Translation Fellowship to translate Xi Xi’s novel Mourning a Breast.


Janet Hong is a writer and translator based in Vancouver, Canada. She received the TA First Translation Prize and the 16th LTI Korea Translation Award for her translation of Han Yujoo’s The Impossible Fairy Tale, which was a finalist for both the PEN Translation Prize and the National Translation Award, and longlisted for the 2019 International Dublin Literary Award. She has translated Ha Seong-nan’s Flowers of Mold, Ancco’s Bad Friends, Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s Grass, and Yeon-sik Hong’s Umma’s Table.


Bill Johnston translates from Polish, working in a wide range of genres and historical periods. His awards include the PEN Translation Prize and the Best Translated Book Award, both for Wiesław Myśliwski’s novel Stone Upon Stone (2012); the Found in Translation Prize, for Tomasz Różycki’s mock-epic poem Twelve Stations (2016); fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities; and, for his overall contributions to promoting Polish literature and culture, the Transatlantyk Prize (2014) and the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit (2012). He teaches literary translation at Indiana University.


Joyelle McSweeney is the author of eight books of poetry, stories, novels, essays, translation and plays, including the verse play Dead Youth, or, the Leaks, which inaugurated the Scalapino Prize for Women Playwrights, and The Necropastoral: Poetry, Media, Occults, a work of decadent ecopoetics. With Johannes Göransson, she co-edits the international press Action Books, publishing such authors as Raúl Zurita, Hiromi Ito, Josué Guébo and Kim Hyesoon, while supporting translators like Daniel Borzutzky, Don Mee Choi, Katerine Hedeen, Katrine Øgaard Jensen, Michelle Gil-Montero, Jeffrey Angles, and many others. McSweeney’s ninth book, a double volume of poetry called Toxicon & Arachne, is forthcoming from Nightboat Books in Winter 2020. She teaches at Notre Dame.


Marian Schwartz is a prize-winning translator from Russian whose most recent publications are Leonid Yuzefovich’s Horsemen of the Sands (Archipelago) and Olga Slavnikova’s The Man Who Couldn’t Die: The Tale of an Authentic Human Being (Columbia University Press).  She is currently translating the four volumes of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s March 1917: The Red Wheel, Node III (University of Notre Dame Press)the second volume of which will be published in November 2019. In 2014 she received the Read Russia Prize for Contemporary Russian Literature and in 2018 the Linda Gaboriau Award for Translation from the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.


For more information, please see our website for details, as well as introductions to former mentees and their accomplishments.

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