Oxford Translation Day 2020

Every year, St Anne’s and Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation host Oxford Translation Day. It is a celebration of literary translation consisting of workshops, readings, and talks. The day traditionally culminates in the award of the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize. Please find the programme below, in partnership with Modern Poetry in Translation and Queen’s Translation Exchange.

This year, given the COVID-19 pandemic, Oxford Translation Day took place as online sessions over a series of weeks. On 13 June we announced the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize shortlist and made video recordings of some Oxford Translation Day’s online events available on the OCCT website.

Monday 18th May


Parwana Fayyaz on the Poets of Herat

Online via Microsoft Teams

In this event we enjoyed a reading and conversation with the poet Parwana Fayyaz, who won Best Single Poem at the Forward Prizes 2019 for her poem ‘Forty Names’, which draws inspiration both narrative and lyrical from medieval Persian traditions. Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Fayyaz is currently finishing her PhD on the medieval Persian poet Jami at Trinity College, Cambridge. She read her translations of two very different poets from Herat, Jami and Nadia Anjuman (1980-2005), alongside her own poems. This session was introduced by MPT editor Clare Pollard.

This event was proudly co-hosted in partnership with Modern Poetry in Translation and the Queen’s Translation Exchange.

Monday 25th May


Ghost Letters: A Poetry Reading with Baba Badji

Online via Microsoft Teams

From his own deceased mother, Baba Badji’s Ghost Letters creates a ghost mother who becomes a presiding presence in his first collection of poems. Ghost Letters explores the intimacy of a private experience, focused on the momentary. At the same time, it focuses on a personal awareness of belonging, and in ruptured storylines investigates networks of people in different registers across mortalities, experiences of violence and hospitality, exile, history, and African myth. 

Baba Badji is a Senegalese American poet, translator, a researcher and a PhD in Comparative Literature, with the Track for International Writers & a combined Graduate Certificate in Translation Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. His research and teaching interests centre on the links between the various forms of postcolonial studies literature and theory, with a particular focus on the debates for cultural, translation, literary and Négritude in Anglophone and Francophone cultures.

Saturday 13th June


Sophie Hughes Discusses the Novel Hurricane Season

In these recordings, Sophie Hughes talks about her translation of Fernanda Melchor's 2020 International Booker shortlisted novel Hurricane Season (Fitzcarraldo Editions). This online event begins with a reading, followed by a short talk on the challenges of translating the novel, described by the New York Times as “a narrative that not only decries an atrocity but embodies the beauty and vitality it perverts.” Sophie also reflects on how we translate vernaculars, slang, idiolects and violent language before answering questions on these or other aspects of literary translation. 

Sophie Hughes is a literary translator from Spanish, known for her translations of writers such as Alia Trabucco Zerán, Laia Jufresa, Rodrigo Hasbún and José Revueltas. She has been shortlisted twice for the International Booker Prize, most recently in 2020 for Fernanda Melchor's Hurricane Season (Fitzcarraldo Editions)Sophie is currently working with the Stephen Spender Trust promoting translation as a tool for foreign language and literacy learning in schools. She is the co-editor of the anthology Europa28: Writing by Women on the Future of Europe in association with Wom@rts, Hay Festival and Comma Press. 

Watch the video recordings of this event via the links: Sophie Hughes reads from Hurricane SeasonSophie Hughes discusses Hurricane Season, and Q&A with Sophie Hughes. These recordings are proudly co-hosted in partnership with the Queen’s Translation Exchange. Please note that these recordings contain strong language and references to violence.

A.E. Stallings Discusses Two Female Modern Greek Poets

Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke and Kiki Dimoula (born in 1939 and 1931 respectively) both left this life in early 2020, leaving behind a huge absence in Modern Greek letters. Both women came of literary age in a post-war Greece whose liberty would be shadowed by the military dictatorship of the Junta. Yet it would be hard to think of two Greek poets further apart in their sensibilities: one famously translatable (a translator in her own right, and widely translated by Anglophone poets), translation itself being a prime subject; and the other famously impossible to translate, where the idiosyncrasies of Greek grammar operate as one of her central metaphors. It is hard to think of two contemporary Greek poets with such different voices, but for both the matrix of poetry was the Greek language itself. Stallings looks at and discusses poems by both poets, and various approaches in translation to bringing their work across into English.

A.E. Stallings is an American poet who studied Classics at the University of Georgia and Oxford.  She has published three collections of poetry, Archaic SmileHapax, and Olives, and a verse translation (in rhyming fourteeners!) of Lucretius, The Nature of Things. She has received a translation grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and fellowships from United States Artists, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation.  She is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  She speaks and lectures widely on a variety of topics, and has been a regular faculty member at the West Chester Poetry Conference and the Sewanee Summer Writers' Conference.

Watch the video recording of this event here.

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

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. This year’s judges were Patrick McGuinness, Karolina Watroba, Marta Arnaldi, and Simon Park (Chair). The shortlist is available here. Video recordings of shortlisted translators for the 2020 Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize reading from their work and a video recording of the announcement of the winner of the 2020 Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize were made available on our YouTube channel. You can find links to the readings here.