Meet the 2020 Mentees: Paige Morris

The ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorship Program is designed to facilitate and establish a close working relationship between an experienced translator and an emerging translator on a project selected by the emerging translator. The mentorship duration is nine months. The emerging translator is expected to choose a project that can be completed in this timeframe, and they will only be advised on that particular project. Congratulations to this year’s Korean prose mentee, Paige Morris, who will be mentored by Janet Hong:

Paige MorrisPaige Aniyah Morris hails from Jersey City, NJ, and credits her upbringing in one of the most diverse cities in the US for instilling in her an early interest in and appreciation for the many languages in which stories could be told.

After earning a BA in Ethnic Studies and Literary Arts from Brown University in 2016, she spent the following two years as a Fulbright grantee in South Korea, where she taught English as a foreign language to high schoolers in the southern, sea-lined city of Changwon, Gyeongsangnam-do, and to university students in Goesan, Chungcheongbuk-do, a quiet rural town in the heart of the country. She had long seen literature as a way to understand lives both like and unlike her own; during this time and with this mindset, she often turned to Korean literature and, ultimately, to its translation as a way to more deeply engage with the Korean language and the stories it could tell. She came away with a desire to better hone her craft as a writer and translator, to fully explore the potential of literature and translation to humanize and nuance readers’ understandings of other people that have long been relegated to the world’s margins.

In 2018, she returned to the US to teach college-level composition and to complete an MFA in Creative Writing at Rutgers University-Newark. Her own fiction centers Black/of color and queer women and draws on speculative and magical realist traditions. Her work has appeared in The Rumpus, Strange Horizons, Thin Noon, and more. Her story “Someday We’ll Embrace This Distance,” about the manipulation of time as a way to rewrite the relationship between two women, was selected by Areej Mehdi at The Masters Review Blog as one of the most interesting works of speculative fiction written by women in August 2019. The Rumpus nominated her story “The Interpreter,” about the inadequacy of language to relay tragedy, for the Best Small Fictions 2020 Prize. As a writer and translator, she is interested primarily in the unconventional, often fantastical methods marginalized people deploy to survive their hostile environments and the simultaneously extraordinary and incredibly ordinary lives they lead.

In 2020, Morris will relocate to Seoul, South Korea, to work in the field of education and continue her work in translation. Under the guidance of Janet Hong, whose graceful and lyrical translations she has long admired, Morris will complete a translation of Kim Se Hee’s Love at the Harbor, a coming-of-age novel about high school, fan culture, and queer first love set in Mokpo against the nostalgic backdrop of the early 00s. The novel serves as a time capsule-slash-archive-slash-collage of life in a small, port city for the young women whose desires—the urge to write fanfiction about their favorite pop idols, the yearning they felt toward close female friends—were criticized and policed. She is endlessly grateful to the ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorship Program for this opportunity and support.

This mentorship is being offered by ALTA in partnership with the Literature Translation Institute of Korea.

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