Oxford Translation Day 2015

On June 13th, St Anne’s College ran Oxford Translation Day, a celebration of literary translation consisting of workshops and talks throughout the day at St Anne’s and around the city, culminating in the award of the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize. Our programme included a range of events which are all open to the public, providing students, translators, publishers, writers, and anyone interested in languages with the opportunity to discover and discuss literary translation.

Oxford Translation Day is a joint venture of the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize and Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation (OCCT) Research Centre, based at St Anne’s College and the Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities, in partnership with Oxford Student PEN, the Emerging Translators Network, Oxford German Network, and Modern Poetry in Translation.

All Oxford Translation Day events were free and open to anyone, but registration was required.

Saturday 13th June


Classics and Swearing: A Talk and Discussion with James Methven, Nicola Gardini, Caterina Paoli, Ellie Keel and Valentina Gosetti

Seminar Room 3, St Anne's College

Join James Methven, Nicola Gardini, Caterina Paoli and Ellie Keel in a series of talks about classics and swearing. Nicola Gardini will show that Catullus's swearing ultimately advocates social justice and piety. Caterina Paoli and Ellie Keel will perform passages from Paolo Volponi’s Italian translation of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, and show how sexual puns and swearing are a way of accusing Athenian men of political ineptitude.‬ James Methven’s aim has been to muddy the waters surrounding theoretical problems of a translator’s biographical involvement in the work of a previous poet, and catch on the hop any reader so blithely unaware as to imagine that the ‘James’ / ‘Jim’ / ‘Jimmy’ who appears in the poems is him, James Methven. His poetic persona swears. A lot. He does not.


Oxford Student PEN: Poetry Translation Workshop with Yousif Qasmiyeh

Seminar Room, TORCH Humanities Centre

A workshop for those interested in poetry, translation and activism. Collaborating with leading Oxford-based poet Yousif Qasmiyeh, we will work together to translate a selection of Egyptian poetry by Huda Hussain, Rana Al-Tunusi, Aliyya Abdel-Salam, Fatima Qindil and Yaser Al-Zayyaat. No prior knowledge of Arabic is needed (we will provide lots of language help): you just need to be enthusiastic about poetry and language!


Translating Chinese and Japanese Texts: Two Talks

Seminar Room 3, St Anne's College

Dr Guo Ting (University of Edinburgh) will talk about the translation between Chinese and English of the terms 'religion' and the 'Dao'. Laurence Mann (Oriental Institute) will talk about the problems that are posed by translating Japanese particles into English.

Volatile Translations: A Conversation with Joyelle McSweeney and Johannes Göransson

Seminar Room 9, St Anne's College

Publishers McSweeney and Göransson will discuss their work editing and publishing cross-boundary, multi-media, extremist works of translation and the possibility of translational literary cultures in the current global publishing economy. Action Books is an international poetry press that publishes original and translated works. Recently published translations include The Country of Planks / El País de Tablas by Raúl Zurita (translated by Daniel Borzutzky), Wild Grass on the Riverbank by Hiromi Itō (translated by Jeffrey Angles), and Dark Museum by María Negroni (translated by Michelle Gil-Monteiro).


Oxford German Network: Poetry Translation Workshop

Seminar Room, TORCH Humanities Centre

Participants will work together in pairs and in groups on translating a selection of modern German poetry. Using examples from these poems, participants will be introduced to some of the key issues around literary translation and especially translation of poetry. Participants will experiment with translating into different styles, genres and registers, and there will be book prizes for the most inventive and impressive contributions. This challenging, informative and fun workshop will be led by Prof. Karen Leeder, the prize-winning translator of contemporary poets such as Evelyn Schlag, Michael Krüger, Durs Grünbein and Volker Braun! Participants should have at least AS level German and be aged 17 or over. Places are limited and so booking is essential.

This event is supported by Routes into Language and HEFCE, who work to widen young participation in languages.


How To Be A Literary Translator: A Talk and Interactive Workshop by the Emerging Translators Network

Seminar Room 5, St Anne's College

An introduction to the ins and outs of literary translation hosted by Rosalind Harvey: practical advice on getting started, how and where to network, how to make a living and how to organise your freelance life. Whether you’ve just completed a degree or have worked for years as a professional word-wrangler and just need that extra push to start grappling with novels, plays or poetry in a more serious way, this is the place to come for all the tools and tips you need to make headway in the challenging and rewarding world of literary translation.

Translating Andrey Platonov: A Talk by Robert Chandler

Seminar Room 7, St Anne's College

Best known for his translations of Vasily Grossman and for his three anthologies for Penguin Classics - of Russian short stories, Russian magic tales and most recently The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry - Robert Chandler is also the co-translator of several volumes of stories and short novels by Andrey Platonov, whom he believes to be the greatest of all 20th century Russian prose writers. In a discussion led by Oliver Ready, he will talk about how his collaboration with the Russian-American scholar Olga Meerson led to some important new understandings of Platonov’s stories that neither he nor Olga would ever have arrived at on their own. 

Modern Poetry in Translation: A Reading and Discussion

The Shulman Auditorium, The Queen’s College

Join Modern Poetry in Translation for a discussion and reading by Iranian poet Ziba Karbassi and her translator, poet Stephen Watts. Ziba Karbassi fled Iran in her teens and has made a home in London. She gained attention with her astonishing poem ‘Sangsar’, ‘Death By Stoning’, written in her early twenties, and concerning the stoning to death of a relative of her mother. Stephen Watts writes of her poetry, “I know of very few poets worldwide whose lyric intensity matches hers or whose language is as honest to terror and to love”. Stephen’s most recent work of poetry is Ancient Sunlight of which Robert Macfarlane wrote, “He is among the most fine and subtle writers I know on the relations of landscape and mind”. He has translated widely from many languages, always working in collaboration with the poet. This event is hosted by MPT editor, Sasha Dugdale.


Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize Short List Readings and Prize-Giving

Tsuzuki Lecture Theatre, St Anne's College

The Oxford–Weidenfeld Prize is for book-length literary translations into English from any living European language. It aims to honour the craft of translation, and to recognise its cultural importance. The celebration will feature readings from the work of the shortlisted translators, and the prize will be presented to the winner by Penelope Lively.


Please note that there are also translation events in the days before and after Oxford Translation Day: a poetry evening with Tomasz Rozycki, held on 5 June; a research seminar with Joyelle McSweeney and Johannes Goransson, held on 11 June; and a talk by Antonio Armano, held on 15 June.