Spotlight on the ’19 Travel Fellows: Caroline Froh

ALTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2019 Travel Fellowships, including the fourth annual Peter K. Jansen Memorial Travel Fellowship! Each year, ALTA provides four to six $1,000 fellowships to emerging translators to attend the annual ALTA conference. This year’s winners were selected by judging panel Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello, J. Kates, Sandra Kingery, and Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma.

This year, we’re spotlighting each of our five stellar Travel Fellows the final week of National Translation Month. Today, we offer congratulations to 2019 Travel Fellow, Caroline Froh:

Caroline FrohCaroline Froh grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she attended a German immersion school, and learned how to read and write in German before English. Some of her earliest memories entail sitting atop a tall stool in her great-grandparents’ kitchen and speaking high German, while they would respond in Pennsylvania Dutch dialect. They lived in a small Swiss settlement in Ohio, where it wasn’t out of the ordinary to hear Swiss-German as well as dialect spoken on the streets and in her family’s home.

Caroline went on to major in German and English at Grinnell College. It was there that she was first introduced to translation, which from the outset felt like it provided a liberating framework for deeper exploration and engagement within both languages. She designed a senior independent project centered around literary translation, and was one of the inaugural members of the Grinnell Translator’s Collective. But translating simply for a pleasure in interlingual communication and a delight in words and sounds quickly progressed into something that now feels more urgent and critical. She is currently translating the Jenish-Swiss writer Mariella Mehr, whose journalism, fiction, and poetry serve to illuminate a period of state-sponsored terror enacted against the Jenish population of Switzerland. Born in 1947, Mehr was subjected to the forced assimilation program run by the ‘charitable’ organization, Pro Juventute, called Kinder der Landstrasse (trnsl. Children of the Country Road). Separated from her mother at a young age, she spent the rest of her childhood in various group homes, abusive foster homes, mental institutions, and orphanages. As an adult, she was also a victim of forced sterilization following the birth and subsequent kidnapping of her own son. These and other horrors bleed into Mehr’s writing and come to life both in her subject matter as well as her charged, electric prose. Mehr’s novels, lyric essays, journalism, literary criticism, and poetry foreground themes of violence – ranging from sexual abuse to more systemic, institutionalized injustice – gender, belonging and not belonging, serving to expose the dark underbelly of Swiss society. Mehr is highly-regarded in Switzerland and the German-speaking world, and has won numerous prestigious awards for both her literary work and social activism. Caroline was surprised to find that none of her books have appeared in English, and is eager to introduce her writing to a wider audience.

Currently an MFA candidate in Literary Translation at the University of Iowa, Caroline also serves as an editor of the Exchanges literary journal. She plans to translate work by Mariella Mehr for her thesis, and was awarded a Stanley Travel Fellowship for the summer of 2019 to translate and conduct research in Mariella Mehr’s archive in the National Library in Bern, Switzerland.

Caroline is grateful to ALTA for the opportunity to attend the conference and share her translations of Mariella Mehr’s singular and consequential prose.

Stay tuned as we spotlight our Travel Fellows this week!

If you love the Travel Fellowships and supporting emerging translators, we hope you’ll donate to ALTA’s fall campaign. Any donation from $5 to $5,000 will help ensure that ALTA will be around to support future generations of emerging translators, like our stellar Travel Fellows! 

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