Oxford Translation Day 2023

Friday 9th June

17:30–19:00

Alejandro Zambra in conversation with Megan McDowell

Seminar Room 10, St Anne's College

Award-winning translator Megan McDowell discusses her recent translations of Alejandro Zambra's work—including Chilean Poet, shortlisted for the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize—with the author himself. This conversation will be chaired by Ben Bollig.

Register via Eventbrite here.

Alejandro Zambra is a Chilean writer, author of two books of poems, Bahía Inútil and Mudanza; two collections of essays, No leer and Tema libre; and seven works of fiction, including short story collections Mis documentos and Skyscrapers and novels Bonsái, La vida privada de los árboles, Formas de volver a casa, Facsímil, and Poeta chileno. The recipient of numerous literary prizes, as well as a New York Public Library Cullman Center fellowship, he has published fiction and essays in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and Harper’s Magazine, among other publications. He lives in Mexico City.

Megan McDowell has translated books by many contemporary South American and Spanish authors, including seven of Alejandro Zambra's works—Bonsai, The Private Lives of Trees, Ways of Going Home, My Documents, Multiple Choice, Not To Read, and Chilean Poet (shortlisted for the 2023 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize). In 2022, she won the National Book Award for Translated Fiction for her translation of Samanta Schweblin's Seven Empty Houses. Her translations have been published in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Paris Review, McSweeney’s, Words Without Borders, and Vice, among other publications. She lives in Chile.


Saturday 10th June

11:30–13:00

Japanese Translation Workshop with Polly Barton and Aoko Matsuda, in partnership with the Queen’s College Translation Exchange

Seminar Room 8, St Anne's College

This workshop, led by the award-winning authors and translators Aoko Matsuda and Polly Barton, will explore some of the challenges of translating between Japanese and English. Considering various approaches, we will collaboratively translate a text from Japanese into English, with no prior knowledge of Japanese required. This workshop is the final event of Aoko Matsuda and Polly Barton's joint translation residency at the Queen’s College, Oxford, and will be a unique opportunity to engage in dialogue with both writer and translator while exploring what it means to translate contemporary Japanese literature today.

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Aoko Matsuda is a writer and translator. In 2013, her debut book, Stackable, was nominated for the Mishima Yukio Prize and the Noma Literary New Face Prize. In 2019, her short story ‘The Woman Dies’ was shortlisted for a Shirley Jackson Award. In 2021, her short story collection Where the Wild Ladies Are, translated by Polly Barton and published by Tilted Axis Press, was selected as one of the 10 Best Fiction Book of 2020 by TIME, and won and World Fantasy Award for Best Collection in 2021. She has translated work by Karen Russell, Amelia Gray and Carmen Maria Machado into Japanese.

Polly Barton is a writer and translator of Japanese literature and non-fiction, based in Bristol. In 2019, she was awarded the Fitzcarraldo Essay Prize for her non-fiction debut Fifty Sounds (Fitzcarraldo Editions/Liveright), and has just released her second non-fiction work with Fitzcarraldo, Porn: An Oral History (2023). In 2021, her translation of Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda (Tilted Axis Press/Soft Skull Press, 2020) won the World Fantasy Award for Best Collection.

 

‘Translating Gender’: French Translation Workshop with Jenny Higgins

Seminar Room 9, St Anne's College

One of the first things we learn about the French language is that the nouns have genders: the sea is ‘feminine’ but a boat is ‘masculine’. We usually translate these with a neutralising ‘the’, but what do we do when writers use gender to create a specific effect, or to ask questions about the way we use language? It can be one of those moments when translation starts to feel impossible, and the dictionary’s no help… In this collaborative workshop, we will have a go at translating texts, from classic to contemporary, by writers who have played with the possibilities of gendered language. Some knowledge of French (AS-level or above) will be useful.

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Jenny Higgins

Jenny Higgins translates from French and Italian. She has translated a range of novels, short stories and non-fiction, and recently produced the first translation of Jean Lorrain’s play, Ennoïa. Her recent translations include Faces on the Tip of my Tongue by Emmanuelle Pagano (Peirene Press, 2019)—which was longlisted for the International Booker Prize—and The Photographer of Auschwitz by Luca Crippa and Maurizio Onnis (Doubleday, 2021).

 

‘Translating Modernisms’: Portuguese Translation Workshop with Rahul Berry, in partnership with the Stephen Spender Trust

Seminar Room 11, St Anne's College

In this workshop we will go back to 1927, year of Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, the final instalment of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, and the Brazilian modernist Oswald de Andrade’s Primeiro Caderno do Alumno de Poesia. Playful, iconoclastic, boldly experimental, Oswald’s work was a heady fusion of high and low art. As we work together to translate a poem from this collection, we will consider how Brazilian modernism can be translated into English, and look at different ways of approaching a translation of this kind, from the faithful to the not-so-faithful! No prior knowledge of Portuguese is required. This workshop is presented in collaboration with the Stephen Spender Trust and the Queen’s College Translation Exchange. The Stephen Spender Prize for poetry in translation is now open for entries from across the world: translate any poem out of any language into English. Read more about the Stephen Spender Prize here.

Register via Eventbrite here.

Rahul Bery is based in Cardiff and translates from Spanish and Portuguese. His most recent translations are Nothing Can Hurt You Now by Simone Campos (Pushkin Press, 2023) and Mary John by Ana Pessoa (Archipélago Press, 2022, co-translated with Daniel Hahn). He is currently working on books by Vicente Luís Mora and José Henrique Bortoluci. He was the British Library’s translator in residence from 2018–2019 and he does outreach work with the Stephen Spender Trust and the Translation Exchange at Queen’s College, Oxford University.

 


14:00–15:15

Translating Punctuation: A Roundtable Discussion

Seminar Room 7, St Anne’s College

In many languages, punctuation marks abound in written texts. But when does an exclamation point indicate emphasis or a scream? When is a semi-colon a pause or a question? What these typographical signs mean and how they shape our reading of a text differ significantly across languages and scripts. This roundtable will gather poets, translators, and poet-translators working in Hebrew, Japanese, French, Spanish, and Chinese (among other languages) for a lively discussion on the translation and translatability of punctuation.

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Adriana X. Jacobs is Associate Professor of Modern Hebrew Literature at the University of Oxford and author of Strange Cocktail: Translation and the Making of Modern Hebrew Poetry (University of Michigan Press, 2018). Her translations of contemporary Hebrew poetry include Vaan Nguyen’s The Truffle Eye (Zephyr Press, 2021), for which she was awarded the 2022 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets, and Merav Givoni Hrushovski's End— (Carrion Bloom Books, 2023).

Shira Stav is Associate Professor in the Department of Hebrew Literature at Ben-Gurion University. She has been a research fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies in Philadephia, the Taube Center for Jewish Studies at Stanford University, among others. Stav is an award-winning poet, whose work has been translated into English, German, and Arabic. Her translations into Hebrew include collections by Sharon Olds (The Floor of Our Life, 2017) and by Ocean Vuong (The Last Prom Queen in Antarctica, 2023), as well as Hebrew translations of poetry by Margaret Atwood, Louise Glück, Carolyn Forché, Robert Bly, and many others.

Juliana Buriticá Alzate is Departmental Lecturer in Modern Japanese Literature at the University of Oxford. Her research brings together queer and feminist theory to explore representations of mothering and related embodied experiences in contemporary Japanese fiction. She has translated Aoko Matsuda’s Where The Wild Ladies Are into Spanish (Quaterni, 2022) and is currently working on a collection of poetry by Hiromi Itō, forthcoming in 2023 by Insensata.

Coraline Jortay is the Laming Junior Research Fellow at The Queen’s College, Oxford, and a translator of Sinophone fiction and poetry into French. Her recent book-length translations include Le Banquet aphrodisiaque by Li Ang (L’Asiathèque, forthcoming 2023) and Les Sentiers des rêves by Walis Nokan (L’Asiathèque, 2018). In 2014, she was awarded the second and third prize of the China International Translation Contest. A co-editor with Gwennaël Gaffric of the anthology Hong Kong (Jentayu, 2022), she has translated short fiction and poetry from Taiwan and Hong Kong for a range of literary magazines, including JentayuLettres de Malaisie, and Graminées.

 


15:45–17:00

Contemporary Ukrainian Poetry in Translation: Iryna Starovoyt in conversation with Grace Mahoney

Seminar Room 7, St Anne’s College

We celebrate the Contemporary Ukrainian Poetry Series published by Lost Horse Press with a conversation between Ukrainian poet Iryna Starovoyt and translator and series editor Grace Mahoney. The series features dual-language editions of poetry from Ukraine’s most significant contemporary poets. These critically acclaimed and award-winning books showcase the diversity of poets who write from a range of geographies, poetic perspectives, and literary movements. Of critical importance is the fact that many of the poems featured in this series meditate on the significance of Ukraine’s independence and the positionality of the poet in a literature-centred culture in times of war. This conversation will be chaired by Matthew Reynolds.

Register via Eventbrite here

Iryna Starovoyt is a poet and a cultural studies scholar, Associate Professor of Cultural Studies at the Ukrainian Catholic University, and a Visiting Fellow at St Anne's College, Oxford. A member of PEN Ukraine, she is the author of three volumes of poetry and a number of essays. She has published widely on Ukrainian literary narratives of becoming and belonging, and serves as the Head of the Jury for the transnational literary prize for UNESCO’s City of Literature based in Lviv.

Grace Mahoney is a PhD candidate specialising in Russian and Ukrainian languages and literatures at the University of Michigan. She also practices literary translation. Her book of translations of Iryna Starovoyt's poetry A Field of Foundlings was published by Lost Horse Press in 2017 as the first volume in a series of Contemporary Ukrainian Poetry for which she now serves as editor.

 


17:00–18:15

“This is Why”: Translators on Translating

Seminar Room 7, St Anne's College

Join acclaimed literary translators who have featured on prestigious shortlists and longlists to hear more about their translation practices and choices. They will discuss a short poem or passage that they have recently translated, and give the audience insight into the “hows” and “whys” of their approach.

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DRINKS RECEPTION
 

18:30–20:00

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. It was founded by Lord Weidenfeld and is supported by New College, The Queen’s College, and St Anne’s College, Oxford. This celebration of literary translation will feature readings from the work of the shortlisted translators, and the presentation of the prize.

Register via Eventbrite here.

DINNER (Invitation Only)