Sunday, November 04, 2007

A New Anthology of Writing from the Caribbean

Translator Harry Morales alerts me that an anthology edited by Thomas Glave, Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles, is forthcoming from Duke University Press in May 2008. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Too Many Swedish Women writing Crime?

How many women are allowed to write mystery/noir novels in Sweden? At the Gothenburg Book Fair, a panel discussing whether an author's name is his or her "brand", the question came up. Sweden has had a number of successful male mystery authors, and yet for a long time, popular wisdom crowned only one woman at a time as the "deckardrottning", or "The Queen of Crime". Now there are twelve well-known women writing crime fiction. Is twelve too many? One male author, Leif G W Persson, criticized women crime authors as writing works more fit for a girl's horse magazine (say, perhaps, the Swedish equivalent of Seventeen) and not as good as the hard-boiled male writers. The debate became the flash point of the summer and fall literary debates. Do women write as well as men? Or is their financial success a result of dumbing down their material? Or, if they are not writing about single middle-aged men who drink too much, they are not writing "real" books? Gee, and I thought that Sweden was enlightened! Another panel took up a "chick-lit" debate. Here the question was, are women writers who are successful purveyors of "chick-lit" since their audience also tends to be female? Maria Ernestam and Kajsa Ingemarsson replied succinctly and persuasively that this was sour grapes on the part of some male authors, and that the men should be happy that women support the book buying industry, as their money is what brings men their livlihood. It seems to me that Swedish women, although one of their own, Selma Lagerlöf, was a Nobel prize winner in the past, still have a long way to go to be recognized for their work.
On the translation front, however, a new initiative bringing translation subsidies to translators is being put into place. The new initiative will no longer be run by the Swedish Institute, but rather by the Ministry of Culture, and it will begin in January 2008 with a pot of 7 million Swedish crowns. The government seems to have realized that if Swedes do not support their literature, who will? I applaud this initiative and am waiting to see how it will play itself out in real life. This is good news for all who would like to see more Swedish literature out in the rest of the world.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Book/ Mark Quarterly Review Seeks Reviews of Works in Translation

Calling all book reviewers: Book/ Mark Quarterly Review editor Mindy Kronenberg welcomes submissions of book reviews of works in translation. She writes, "Our main criteria rests upon the publisher being a small press (independent, university, 'alternative,' cooperative, even quality self-published books). We especially need work by reviewers who might specialize or have particular interest in these books." Interested? Contact Mindy Kronenberg via cyberpoet (at) optonline (dot) net

Monday, August 27, 2007

Save the Date--- New York City Sept 12th--- Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 at 6 pm, reading and discussion of Mexico: A Traveler’s Literary Companion, an anthology of Mexican fiction and literary prose by some of Mexico’s best-known authors. With editor CM Mayo, writers Pedro Angel Palou and Monica Lavin, and translators Harry Morales and Daniel Shapiro. Sponsored by the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York. Free Admission. King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center at New York University, 53 Washington Square South (between Thompson and Sullivan Streets)Info: 212.998.3650.
(Mexico A Traveler's Literary Companion is part of the widely-lauded Traveler's Literary Companion series published by Whereabouts Press. Other titles include Greece, Italy, Israel, Chile, Cuba, Costa Rica, Japan, and many more.)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Calque's Issue #2--- and a call for submissions

Issue # 2 of Calque has just landed on my desk in Mexico City. It's a terrific new tri-annual journal of literary translation, a really magnificent effort by editors Steve Dolph and Brandon Holmquest. This issue features a cornucopia of outstanding writers and translators, among them, Luis Cernuda and Natasha Wimmer. Calque has a call for submissions out for the next issue, so translators, check this out.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Kids Are All Right in Waukegan

This year I returned to Waukegan to visit my family and attend a conference in another part of Illinois. A year ago, I wrote how strange I found it to see Waukegan, my home town, a community whose demographics had shifted so much that the grocery stores had signs in Spanish. A year later, this was still the case, and according to an article in the New York Times magazine yesterday, Waukegan is one of the Illinois communities feeling so under threat by immigration that new laws are being considered which are aimed against illegal immigration. I find that ordanances requiring English heavy-handed and misguided, but I can see how the non-Hispanic population in Waukegan are beginning to feel like strangers in their own city. Kind of like how the Potawatami felt when those French traders and American settlers from the east moved into Waukegan.
Still, I want to say that the kids are all right. I went to my old Junior High School, Jack Benny Junior High, as part of the effort to revive the Benny song which hadn't been sung there during the 80s and 90s and so was forgotten. My best friend teaches there, and got me involved. Jack Benny now has a 79 per cent Hispanic student population, and the class I visited had two white kids, two black kids and everyone else was Hispanic. But let me tell you, all the kids were speaking fluent Waukegani English, even if they chatted with each other in Spanish before the bell. They were great. They'd worked hard on the Benny song. I was proud of them.
Later that week, my sister and I drove four hours from Rock Island back to Waukegan, and the billboards were all in English until we got to the Waukegani city line. Then it was 100 per cent Spanish billboards. "Well," my sister said. "We're home!"

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Literal: the summer issue is out

News from LITERAL: Latin American Voices, vol. 9, Summer 2007

"All that is solid melts into air"--Karl Marx's famous dictum about modernity is perhaps truer today than ever before. This issue brings together three essays about the problems of culture, identity and history in the Spanish-speaking world that probe key aspects of the ever-fluctuating reality by which we are surrounded. Carlos Monsiváis presents in evocative fashion the transformation of Mexican culture--typically thought of as marked by its adherence to tradition--into a culture of migration, a transformation so deep that even those who remain behind have become migrants in a psychological or spiritual sense. Jay Mitsche Sepulveda explores the uncertain position of Hispanics and Latinos in the United States--Hisptinos he calls them--resisting assimilation but unable to overcome the splintering of their identity into separate national groups. Sebastiaan Faber examines the fierce, unresolved debates about the Spanish Civil War, showing how these disputes are symptoms of the shattering of traditional scholarly and journalistic notions of rigor and objectivity in an era of information overload. But the collapse of old certainties also offers new opportunities: for expanding the reach of tolerance, according to Monsiváis; for "fresh thinking," in the words of Sepulveda; and for a new, less rigid concept of historical truth, according to Faber.

Read more about Literal at

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Calque's Call for Submissions

This message just in from Steve Dolph, editor of Calque:

Calque Announces a Call for Submissions to our Third Issue
To be published October - November 2007
Submission Deadline: September 16th
As always are interested in:
Literature In Translation: Prose, Poetry or Drama by writers of aesthetic and literary note from traditions not in English. Literature submissions should be one story for prose, and a set of three to five poems for poetry. We haven't published any plays yet, so let's have 'em--whatever you got.
Interviews: With translators, authors, publishers or critics of translation.
Book Reviews: Of new or forthcoming translations or books about translation.
For Calque 3 we are especially interested in:
Critical Essays about but especially IN translation. We want translations of essays that reveal literary conversations in foreign languages and literatures.
All translation submissions must include a Translator's Introduction between 1000 and 1500 words long. Electronic submissions are vastly preferred. Please submit all materials together in a single MS Word, Plaintext or RTF formatted attachment labeled [TranslatorAuthor].doc, eg GarnettDostoevski.doc. This is for the sake of our sanity, already fragile. I cannot tell you how many files labeled Calque.doc reside in the bowels of our network. Electronic submissions or inquiries should be sent to Paper submissions should be sent to: Calque c/o Steve Dolph / 808 South St. Box 131 / Philadelphia PA 19147.

Please see our website: for more information.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Literal: Latin American Voices (bilingual magazine)

The new issue of Literal has hit the stands--- gorgeous as usual and this one features an essay by Carlos Monsivais. And Literal is now doing some very elegant bilingual chapbooks... Editor Rosemary Salum inspires me more than I can say. More anon...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A funny translation from English to Lolcat

If you don't understand lolcat, Anil Dash's "I can has grammar" might help.

Once you have that as a foundation, Francis Heaney's translation to this version of "This is just to say" is very funny!
oh hai
you had some plums
but I eated them
I is sorry

they had a flavor

Thanks Francis, that made my day! And I love The Holy Tango of Literature by the way.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Alicia Borinsky's "Golpes Bajos / Los Blows" Translated by Cola Franzen & the Author

is a collection of stories set in Buenos Aires and it is fantastic. Writes Julio Ortega, "A Masterpiece of irony." Writes Marguerite Feitlowitz, "No one working today writes like Alicia Borinsky, whose words explode off the page." I could not have said it better. I have long been an admirer of both Borinsky, and Franzen, who is one of the most dedicated, original and elegant literary translators working today. Suffice it to say that Franzen won the 2004 PEN Literary Award and the Gregory Kolovakos Award.

(Full disclosure: some of Borinsky's poem with Franzen's translations are in Tameme's premier issue. The third issue, "Reconqusita," features a switcheroo: Franzen translated by Borinsky.)

For more about the extraordinary Golpes Bajos / Low Blows, click here or visit the book's site at the University of Wisconsin Press.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Swedish Government Commits Literary Suicide

The Swedish Insitute in Stockholm has announced that they are cutting off all subsidies for literary translation of Swedish literature effective immediately.
For the past two years, there has been a great deal of wrangling within various departments of the Swedish government as to which department should pay for literary translation subsidies.
It seems that the Swedes have decided the best way to settle the matter is to cut off all subsidies entirely, making Sweden one of the few European governments to have no support of its national literature abroad, except for what the market can carry on its own.
Luckily for Sweden, they have a number of renowned mystery authors to carry the Swedish flag on the international scene for the time being.
It also appears that the Swedish government is unaware of market forces on the translator's end of the deal. From underpaid to unpaid is a great leap backward, and many translators of Swedish here in the United States at least are also quite good at translating Norwegian, Danish and German. All of these countries are strong about their national literature and support translators well.
In an article in Svenska Dagbladet, it appears that the present director of the Swedish Institute was under the impression that the subsidy went to advertising and marketing, and was not the base pay of the translator. How uninformed can a person be?
As a Swedish-American, I am ashamed of this lack of pride in the national literature, and as an American, I am ashamed of the lack of support for foreign literatures in general which would perhaps have made this question moot. But if neither the Americans nor the Swedes want to pay for Swedish literature to be translated into English or other languages, why should we the translator have to do the work for free? Even an idealistic translator with a Ph D has a rather nasty habit of eating, and some of us must even feed children on what we earn. As I've said, thank God for mysteries, or yours truly would have already left this profession years ago.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Brooklyn Rail's "In Translation"

Check out Brooklyn Rail's new web-only section "In Translation" which features translated works of short fiction, excerpted longer fiction, and excerpted dramatic writing. According to the the editors, "In Translation will serve as a venue for outstanding literary translation, and we hope that it will become a valuable resource for translators, authors, editors, and publishers seeking to collaborate. "

Thursday, March 15, 2007

AWP Bookfair: Margaret Sayers Peden, Jen Hofer, Meena & More

Just back from the AWP bookfair in Atlanta-- so much to blog about! One of the books I was most excited to see is the gorgeous and essential new anthology edited by Margaret Sayers Peden, Mexican Writers on Writing. (Trinity University Press). It includes essays by Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Rosario Castellanos, Angeles Mastretta, Juan Villoro, Pedro Angel Palou, Carlos Fuentes, Octavio Paz, Ilan Stavans, Juan Villoro, and Jorge Volpi, in addition to a dozen others. The cover painting is "Our Dream" by Mexican artist Alfredo Castaneda. (Peden and Castaneda have collaborated on another book: read about that here.) I also got a copy Jen Hofer's hot off the presses translation of Laura Solorzano's poems Lobo de labio as Lip Wolf (Action Books). (Check out the Action Books manifesto: "We're not so interested in tchotschkes from the style-mart".) Monica del la Torre's blurb for Lip Wolf: "Readers beware. You are about to go into the lion's den." Also at the bookfair--- in fact, the table right next to mine (Tameme)--- was Meena, the bilingual Arabic/ English literary journal edited by Andrea Young and Khaled Hegazzi. They've just brought out their fascinating second issue. Meena means "port" in Arabic. More anon.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


The Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies (SASS) will be having its annual conference in Rock Island, Illinois on 26-28 April 2007. Presenters have been chosen and the program is listed on their website. For the third time, the Association of Swedish Translators in North America (STiNA: ) will be sponsering a panel on Swedish literary translation issues. Speakers include Johannes Göransson, Eva Alison, Margareta Horiba, Erland Anderson and STiNA president, Paul Norlen.
STiNA was founded on March 18th, 2004, by Paul Norlen and myself, Laura A. Wideburg, and has now grown to a membership of 36 in its third year. We keep translators of literary Swedish informed of events in North America, search for information on grants of relevance to Swedish translators, updates on the Gothenburg Book Fair, and especially work on providing assitence to translators just entering the field. For me, personally, it has been amazing to be on the ground floor of an association that has proved its usefulness both in North America and in Sweden. As we enter our fourth year, I look back on the accomplishments we made: three translation panels at SASS, a number of presentations at ALTA 2006, and contacts with the Swedish Institute, the Swedish Consulate in New York, which provided start-up funds during our second year, and the Swedish Authors Union. We will also be co-sponsering the Seattle leg of a three-city trip by four renowned Swedish mystery authors this April and May.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Announcing the Publication of the First Tameme Chapbook ~ Cuaderno

The first Tameme chapbook ~ cuaderno is out: "Carne verde, piel negra ~ An Avocado from Michoacán" por ~ by Agustín Cadena (Translation: C.M. Mayo) A story by the winner of Mexico's San Luis Potosí Award for the Short Story. English and Spanish side-by-side. Includes interview with the author and translator's notes.Agustín Cadena was born in 1963 in the Valle del Mezquital, Mexico. Poet, fiction writer, essayist, and translator, Cadena has published more than twenty books in these genres and received numerous national awards, fellowships and other recognition for his literary work. His most recent book is Los pobres de espíritu, which won Mexico's San Luis Potosí National Prize for Fiction. His writing has been translated into English, Italian and Hungarian as well as adapted for radio and television. He currently teaches a seminar on Mexican culture and literature at the University of Debrecen, in Hungary.C.M. Mayo is founding editor of Tameme, editor of Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion, and author of Miraculous Air and Sky Over El Nido, which was translated by Agustín Cadena as El cielo de El Nido.

Read an interview with Agustin Cadena here.

About Tameme: Tameme, Inc. is a nonprofit foundation based in the state of California. Tameme's mission is to promote English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English literary translation of new writing from North America— Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. Tameme Chapbooks ~ Cuadernos, celebrate and disseminate this new writing and translation in an attractive and affordable format. Tameme's Inc. first publication was the now at-rest Tameme literary journal (1999-2003). Tameme was widely lauded for the quality of its selections and translations. Its U.S.contributors included outstanding writers and poets such as A. Manette Ansay, Gloria Anzaldúa, Edwidge Danticat, Charles Simic, and Eliot Weinberger; Candians included Margaret Atwood, Douglas Glover, Farley Mowat, and P.K. Page; and Mexicans included Alberto Blanco, Jaimes Sabines, Fabio Morábito, Coral Bracho, Pura López Colomé, Ilán Stavans, and Juan Villoro. The last two issues, "Sun and Moon/ Sol y luna" and "Reconquest/ Reconquista," published in 2001 and 2003 respectively, were made possible by a grant from the U.S.-Mexico Fund for Culture.

"Tameme" — pronounced "ta-meh-meh"— is a Nahuatl (Aztec) word which means "porter" or "messenger."

The chapbook is available from Tameme and will be at the Tameme table in the AWP bookfair later this week.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Welcome Calque!

A new journal of literary translation: Calque. Translators: Calque has a call for submissions.

Monday, February 12, 2007

AWP Bookfair

The Associated Writing Programs conference, aka mega-powow, is coming up in Atlanta Georgia this Feb 28-March 3rd. There will be numerous literary translation panels and events. The bookfair has a long list of exhibitors, including Tameme Chapbooks ~ Cuadernos which will be at table # 239--- if you're at the conference, please be sure to come on by. I'll also be participating on Mark Statman's panel with Zack Rogow and others, "Translation as Collaboration (with the Living & the Dead" Friday March 2nd at 10:30-11:45 am. More anon.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Banff Centre Residencies - deadline coming up

The deadline is coming up soon, January 12, to apply for a literary translation residency at the Banff International Literary Translation Centre.

The primary focus of the residency program is to afford literary translators a period of uninterrupted work on a current project, within an international community of translators. Translators may request a joint residency (of up to one week) with a writer, allowing the translator to consult and deepen his or her knowledge of the writer’s intentions and the context of the work being translated. Consultation with the program director and experienced translators in residence as faculty will be available. Three or four times a week participants gather for readings by invited writers and informal presentations by faculty, or simply to exchange information and discuss their work in progress.

The program is open to literary translators from Canada, Mexico and the United States translating from any language, and to international translators working on literature from the Americas (both the North and South American continents).

It looks like a great resource for literary translators and authors who want to work closely with their translators. Note that the guidelines require applicants to have already published at least one book.

You can download the application information from the Banff site. Good luck!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Cherokee Translation of Thirteen Moons

Charles Frazier's Thirteen Moons is scheduled to be translated into Cherokee, according to an interview with Frazier that appeared in the Seattle P-I last month.
It is supposed to be one of the first major translations into Cherokee in over 100 years. The article did not mention who the translator would be, and I am curious to know what the process would be like.
I think it would be a great service if ALTA could become more involved with Native languages spoken in this hemisphere and see if there is a way to support translators working to and from Native languages. It would be fantastic if there would be a panel on Native languages at upcoming ALTA conferences. It was something I could only dream about when I was hosting the conference last year, and I hope that those of you who are thinking of hosting in the coming years would be able to find a way to forge the connections that would make this a reality.