Thursday, February 25, 2010

Another Prize Announcement

I thought I would also tell you about the Stephen Spender Competition.

For this competition, you are to “translate a poem from any language, classical or modern, into English,” and there are three categories for entries: “open, 18-and-under and 14-and-under.”

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Some Job Announcements

Here are a couple of interesting job announcements.


The Center for the Art of Translation is a San Francisco-based non profit
promoting international literature and translation through programs in
publishing, education, and public events. The Center is currently seeking an
experienced Senior Editor & Literary Programs Manager for our Two Lines
publications program, which includes the annual Two Lines World Writing in
Translation anthology and the World Library series of regional anthologies.

The Two Lines Senior Editor & Literary Programs Manager will provide the
editorial and artistic vision for Two Lines publications and curate the
Center¹s Lit&Lunch event series, manage Two Lines staff and volunteers, and
will represent Two Lines externally and in strategic internal discussions
and decisions. This position reports to the Executive Director. The ideal
candidate will have at least five years experience of publishing/editorial
work, familiarity with international literature and literature in
translation, will have significant management and arts administration
experience, and will share enthusiasm and passion for the Center¹s mission.

The Senior Editor & Literary Programs Manager must be able to manage staff
and multiple projects from inception to completion with minimal direction or
oversight. This position will also coordinate shifting priorities, provide
regular reports to the Executive Director, and work effectively both leading
and working on a team.

Responsibilities include the following:

EDITORIAL: Oversee artistic vision, editorial planning and production of all
publications, including selecting guest editors, regions and/or languages
for World Library, soliciting and evaluating monographs for publication,
cultivating contacts within the publishing and translation fields,
evaluating annual anthology submissions, and editing and proofreading
introductions and translations. Provide editorial support on periodic grant
writing and fundraising materials.

LITERARY PROGRAMMING: Curate Lit&Lunch series and other events, including
event programming and annual publication party planning, act as artistic
spokesperson at all Center events, coordinate translation workshops and
other collaborative events and pursue partnerships and collaborations with
publishers, translators, and cultural institutions.

MANAGEMENT & ADMINISTRATION: Manage Two Lines staff, volunteers, guest
editors, translators, language readers, and copyeditors and act as program
representative in staff and management meetings. Ensure tasks are
coordinated, schedules and budgets are maintained, and provide biweekly
reports. The Senior Editor & Literary Programs Manager will also develop a
process to build Two Lines supporters in the literary and translation
communities. Assist with research to identify potential grants and donors.

PRODUCTION: Oversee the production of all Two Lines titles, including the
production timeline, submissions guidelines and production procedures,
submission processing, copyright permissions, final proofreading and
editing, and book design.

publications and provide feedback and support to marketing staff to develop
and implement marketing and public relations plans for publications. Inform
Development Director of any potential funding leads or creative fundraising
ideas. Seek opportunities to raise awareness of and interest in Two Lines
publications, promote the Center and build connections with other
translation and literary organizations, act as a representative of the
Center and lead discussions and/or presentations at literary events, forums
and conferences (3-5 per year).


• Strong background (5+ years) in book publishing, particularly in a
management role

• Experience as a literary translator, editor of translation, or
director of a literary center

• Able to offer contacts within the publishing and translation

• Enthusiasm and passion for the Center¹s mission

• Excellent interpersonal, written, and verbal communication skills,
including editing and proofreading

• Strong organizational sense with a sharp eye for detail

• Ability to prioritize and follow up on activities in a timely manner

• Energetic, flexible and willing to learn

• Proficiency in Microsoft Office, familiarity with the Mac environment
and excellent analytical skills

• Experience with FileMaker Pro a plus

This is a full-time position with an initial probationary period. The Center
is an equal opportunity employer and offers generous vacation package,
retirement plan and benefit stipend. Our office is located South of Market
in San Francisco near public transportation. To apply, please email with a resume and cover letter addressed to:

Erin Branagan
Acting Executive Director
Center for the Art of Translation
35 Stillman St., Suite 201
San Francisco, CA 94107

Olivia E. Sears, President
Center for the Art of Translation

The Center for the Art of Translation is a non-profit organization that
promotes international literature and translation through programs in the
arts, education, and community outreach.

2. I write as a member of the Education Committee for the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution (HLSI). We are looking for a tutor in contemporary literature in translation for the academic year 2010 to 2011 and I wondered if you would know anyone who might be interested in applying.

HLSI is a charity and apart from a professional librarian and office staff, it is run by volunteers. Among our many activities we run 26 classes for adults, mainly in the daytime. Our membership is mostly retired and highly educated, with a good general knowledge of literature. We would want someone for the complete academic year and fees are subject to negotiation. We find most people enjoy teaching here. At the moment we are running a course around the theme of ‘Writers on Writers’. We are aware that literature in translation, even narrowed down to the contemporary (postwar) period, is a huge subject and we would of course be flexible about specific themes or areas of the world in the interests of finding an excellent tutor.

HLSI is situated in the middle of Highgate village in North London, website Apart from classes, we run art exhibitions, concerts and a programme of lectures. Our literature courses, which have a good following, take place on Wednesday afternoons between 2.30 and 4.30 in one of the Institution’s purpose-built classrooms. As we are a charity we have to work to limited budgets - our fees are around £35 per hour for each two hour session. There are two ten week terms in Autumn and Spring and a seven week term in the Summer.

Any interested applicant can simply email me ( with a CV which I can then forward to our Committee.

Mary Butler

Monday, February 15, 2010

More Metaphors

In the last post, I discussed Translation in Practice, edited by Gill Paul and published by Dalkey Archive Press. The book offered two new metaphors, one for translation and one for editing.

Mahmoud Darwish is quoted giving another metaphor of translation: “The translator is not a ferryman for the meaning of the words but the author of their web of new relations. And he is not the painter of the light part of the meaning, but the watcher of the shadow, and what it suggests.” (5)

And Ros Schwartz describes a metaphor of editing: “A good editor is like a midwife – he or she helps bring forth that perfectly formed translation that is inside you but doesn’t necessarily emerge unaided.” (65)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Relationship between Translators and Editors

The title of the new book Translation in Practice, edited by Gill Paul and published by Dalkey Archive Press, is a misnomer. It is a very short (70 pages) book that seems – judging by the title and some of the topics mentioned – to want to be an introduction to various issues on translation but actually is mostly on the process of editing and the relationship between translator and editor. It would have been better called The Role of Editors in Translation or The Relationship between Translators and Editors, or something along those lines. A book on that subject would be interesting and worthwhile and if one focuses on that aspect of Translation in Practice, then one gets something out of it.

This books briefly introduces information about issues such as the role of the outside reader, picking a translator, what a sample translation is and if a translator should get paid for it, what it means for two translators to collaborate on a topic, contracts (both in terms of money and also in terms of relationships, such as establishing boundaries between translators and writers), schedules, publicity (though just one paragraph on this), style, particular challenges such as swear words or humor, what it means to be edited, the use of UK vs. US English, and so on. The issues have generally been discussed in more detail in other texts. It also offers ideas that it doesn’t really explain, such as by defining a bad translation as a “flat” one (69), which is a definition that needs more exploration, or by saying that translators should be paid if their work is used in a relay translation (53), which in fact is something that rarely happens, although Translation in Practice doesn’t analyze why that is the case or how to change it.

But the main part of the text, as already mentioned, explores the jobs of and relationship between the translator and the editor. It offers lists of dos and don’ts for translators and editors. For example, translators should “keep careful notes of changes and decisions made in the process of translating” and “carefully recreate the nuances of the original language” (this last point is one of the major difficulties of translation!), but not “take major liberties with the author’s text without reference to both editor and author” (what is a “major liberty”?) or “anglicize a book beyond recognition” (where is the border here?) (57-8). An editor should “approach the text as an original book rather than a translation” (a debatable point, I’d say) and not “rewrite the text in their own voice, changing the vocabulary choices that the translator has made.” (70-1) The book assumes that English is the target language, so it does not look into issues relevant to the publishing industry elsewhere, though the process of working with editors and publishers in other countries would be fascinating to learn about. Still, what it does discuss regarding the editing process in English-language publishing companies is interesting.

One other comment on the Dalkey book is that oddly, a couple of times a translator is quoted but not named or a translation is mentioned but the name of the translator is not provided (such as on pages 2 and 42-3), so the translator remains invisible. Of course, if this person chose to be anonymous, that should be stated. But if not, this shows how far translators still have to go in terms of visibility.

Translation in Practice tries to cover a lot of ground, but not in any great detail. So it is a good overview, but definitely not the final word.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Links on Children’s Literature

My last post discussed what it means to study children’s literature, so here I want to offer a few links that might be useful or interesting.

Outside In is about children’s literature and translation and Deborah Hallford and Edgardo Zaghini, who run the site, edited a collection of articles about and summaries of children’s literature in translation.

Write Away has many reviews of children’s literature and runs a conference and other activities.

Two organizations dedicated to the study and promotion of children’s literature are IRSCL and IBBY (note that I’ve given the link to IBBY in the UK, but there are branches all over the world).

Here are some major academic journals on children’s lit:

IRCL, which is run by IRSCL


Looking Glass


New Review of Children's Literature and Librarianship


If you know of any other useful links, let me know!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Studying Children’s Literature

As some of you may know, my PhD dissertation was on the translation of children’s literature and I do a lot of research on children’s lit. I have to deal with a lot of misconceptions about what this means:

-People ask me if I sit around, reading children’s books, and they assume that this must be easy. No, actually, I don’t spend hours reading Laura Ingalls Wilder and Judy Blume and Lewis Carroll and Lemony Snicket and nothing else. I do read them, and I read them very closely, but I also have to read around them, which means studying literary theory, psychology, anthropology, reception theory, translation theory, and much more. I don’t just read books and then summarize them, as you might do in grammar school. I have to analyze them and what they mean and what effect they have on the reader, among other things. It is not easy to study children’s literature.

-People often assume I must be an expert on fairy tales. Actually, no, I’m not. The field of children’s literature is much larger than just fairy tales, and fairy tales are not my area of expertise, even though of course I need to understand them in order to be able to understand the history of children’s literature.

-One of the most common questions I get asked is what I think of Harry Potter. I’ll be honest: I’ve never read any of the Harry Potter books. I don’t study them. It’s very frustrating when I give a talk at a conference and then during the question session people ask me about J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter, even though I never mentioned her and her books once during my presentation. There is more to children’s literature than Harry Potter.

-One of the other most common issues people often ask about is in regards to tv shows and films. First of all, I study literature, not tv. Second of all, I don’t even own a tv. While some people study the transition of children’s books from literature to film, most of us in the field don’t. Again, there is much more to the subject than tv.

-Finally, people tend to think it is a ridiculous, non-serious field and they mock me for choosing such a “simple” topic. It seems to me essential that we understand what ideas are behind children’s literature and how they affect the next generation. How could this possibly be unimportant?

In the next post, I will offer some links on children’s literature.