Two Words: The Blog of the Center for the Art of Translation

Natasha Wimmer on Mexican Crime Fiction

Posted on October 29, 2010, 03:33:00 AM by Scott Esposito

Beautiful synchrony! The editor of the current volume of TWO LINES segue ways into next year's volume of TWO LINES.

Current TWO LINES editor Natasha Wimmer--who did a beautiful job on Some Kind of Beautiful Signal with Jeffrey Yang--has a great article in The Nation about Mexican crime fiction. And international noir will in fact be the theme of the special folio at the back of next year's volume of TWO LINES. (And if you're a translatior, submissions are still open till Dec. 1.)

And here's Wimmer on some Mexican noir:

And yet Martín Solares's first novel, The Black Minutes, an uncommonly nuanced neo-noir—set, as it happens, in Tamaulipas—may be exactly the right book to read at the end of 2010, a particularly dark year in recent Mexican history. It's crime fiction, but it's also a meditation on corruption, and it captures the kind of nightmarish helplessness that many feel in the face of the tide of narco-violence sweeping the north of Mexico. In Tamaulipas alone, assassinations since June include the front-runner candidate for governor of the state and two mayors of a single small town over the course of two weeks. On September 19, after the killing of a photography intern, the Ciudad Juárez paper El Diario ran an extraordinary editorial asking the drug gangs for instruction: "We want you to explain to us what...we are supposed to publish or not publish.... You are at this time the de facto authorities in this city." Scraping away some of the cool remove of the traditional noir, The Black Minutes gives a gorgeous, suffocating sense of life in Mexico's sweltering northeast and an equally smothering sense of a justice system in which the concept of justice has been leached of meaning.

ALTA: Translating Borges

Posted on October 28, 2010, 03:11:00 PM by Scott Esposito

The Center was at the annual American Literary Translators' Association conference last week, and I'm going to be blogging the panels that we attended. Earlier this week I wrote about the roundtable on publishing literary translations and the incredible opportunity for translators that is the Banff translation residency. Today it's the panel on the five new Borges translations from Penguin.

If you've been keeping an eye on international literature this year, you probably noticed that Penguin brought out 5 (count 'em!) new titles by Jorge Luis Borges. And if you're like me, you perhaps said, "5 new Borges titles? What's up with that?"

This panel brought together the translators behind the books--Suzanne Jill Levine, Alfred MacAdam, and Stephen Kessler--who, in addition to publishing these are responsible for a rather significant chunk of the currently available 20th-century literature worth reading from Spanish.

Stephen Kessler got things started by discussing his work on Borges' sonnets, which, he noted, is kind of an odd form for a writer noted for his experimentalism. There was a great quote by Borges mentioned in this context: "A poem is untranslatable but it can be recreated in another language."That's what Kessler had to do.

Kessler's talk focused on one of the big challenges with translating formal poetry--what to do with the rhymes. He started out by asking himself just what rhyme was and how it could be conceived of, eventually deciding that it would be dangerous to focus on rhyme too much and ignore what might be lost. Kessler says he eventually settled on thinking of rhyme as a series of patterns and correspondences that recur throughout a poem--essentially, a system of linked sounds that evokes the feel of the rhymes in the original.

Levine spoke next, mentioning that though the sonnet form seems a bit of an odd fit for Borges, it actually made a lot of sense when you considered that he did a lot of writing while blind, as it was an easier form for him to use without sight. She also mentioned that Borges always considered himself a poet first and foremost, and that he originally aspired to be something of the Walt Whitman of Latin America and reinvent Spanish figurative language. That's kind of what you see in the second Penguin poetry book--Poems of the Night--which presents unknown work from Borges, and as the title indicates, it is clustered around themes of night, darkness, and blindness.

After talking about the poems, Levine delved into into the three Borges essay books being published by Penguin. She started by talking about how Borges considered much of his early writing trash and suppressed it for a long time. Of course, Penguin had other ideas, wanting to because, a) Borges was wrong, it's brilliant, and b) the essays help give context to Borges' fictions. She singled out for high, high praise the essay "Stories from Turkestan," which she says essentially defined and created the category of magical realism.

The panel concluded with Alfred MacAdam, who spoke about the essays collected in On Argentina. He made the very interesting statement that these essays all dealt with Borges' obsession with his home country, and that they came about after he read Spengler's Decline of the West, whereupon he decided that this was the periphery's chance to rise.

Essentially, Borges wanted to do for Buenos Aires what Joyce did for Dublin (and in this context, MacAdam noted that Borges published the first Spanish-langauge translation of Ulysses' last page, just to prove he read the whole thing). He decided to be the spokesman for Argentine criollo culture, but, unfortunately, it had long since died, and, as MacAdam noted, the Peron-inspired politics of the 1930s was the final death blow to Borges' romanticized idea of Argentina. Thus, in the 1950s Borges decided that in fact his nation's patrimony was the universe and that the Argentines could write about anything--which he then proceeded to do.

Triple Alienation: Stephen Kessler on Poet Luis Cernuda

Posted on October 27, 2010, 03:57:00 AM by Scott Esposito

On November 9, poet and translator Stephen Kessler will be our guest for Lit&Lunch to talk about his award-winning translations of the Spanish poet Luis Cernuda. Full event details are available here. Here we offer an interview with Kessler to help explain who Cernuda is and why his poems are worthy of your attention.

Scott Esposito: In your introduction to Desolation of the Chimera, you call Cernuda "one of the brightest stars" in the famed Generation of 1927 Spanish poets, which of course is best-known for Federico Garcia Lorca. You also note that Harold Bloom called Cernuda a "saint" (in his book Genius) and compared him to Emily Dickinson and Paul Celan. Can you talk a little about what distinguishes Cernuda's poetry from that of his contemporaries?

Stephen Kessler: Lorca, Cernuda, Aleixandre, Salinas, Guillén and Alberti--generally considered the most important poets of that extremely gifted generation--each has a voice distinct from the others, so it's hard to say how specifically Cernuda's is different. But one thing that I think distinguishes his work is its unromantic sense of disillusionment with Spain, and a certain bitterness (as opposed to nostalgia, though there's that, too) of tone. The lyricism of his early work evolves in the later poems into a more straightforward, seemingly prosaic style, although I think if one reads carefully enough you sense the finely tuned ear of a master of the lyric. But after 1936 all of these writers grieve for their country and the friendships scattered by the civil war and subsequent dictatorship.

Scott Esposito: In your introduction to your 2004 collection of Cernuda's prose poetry, Written in Water, you note that before that book, the only substantial book of Cernuda's verse was Reginald Gibbons' Selected Poems, from 1977. How well known is Cernuda in English, and how does this compare with his Spanish reputation?

Stephen Kessler: Cernuda, like pretty much all the others except Lorca, is scarcely known in the U.S. On the other hand, in Spain and Latin America he is held in very high regard, both among the literati and a certain portion of the "general" readership. This has a lot to do with his triple alienation--as a poet, an exile, and a gay man--the combination of which is essential to his identity as a writer. His rootlessness, his absence of illusions, his marginality all make him somehow emblematically modern, and perhaps resonate more deeply in the openness of post-Franco Spain, especially, than the biographical and poetic trajectories of some of his contemporaries who found relatively comfortable positions in the U.S. and elsewhere (Aleixandre stayed in Spain due to his fragile health). When I was in Spain in 2002, the centenary of Cernuda's birth, I heard him called by more than one writer the most influential poet of his generation.

Scott Esposito: Does your approach to Cernuda significantly differ from Gibbons'?

Stephen Kessler: I read the Gibbons translation long ago, and haven't looked at it since, so I'm unable to compare exactly what I've done differently with the very few poems we both have translated. But as you know, every translator hears the original a little differently, and has a different way of adapting style(s), so I imagine if you look at the Gibbons book and mine you will be able to discern significant distinctions. Beyond that, I would rather not try to evaluate the differences. Each reader can decide on the basis of what they see; but there's very little overlap in our books, as Gibbons (if I recall correctly) emphasizes the early and middle work and I have focused on the later, largely neglected poems.

Scott Esposito: Cernuda fled Spain in 1938, and you talk about how pleased he was to finally arrive in Mexico after a 14-year exile, both for that country's culture and because of a gay man he was in love with. How important was this period of exile, as well as the various landscapes Cernuda inhabited and his sexuality, to the poetry he wrote?

Stephen Kessler: Exile and sexuality are both central to Cernuda's post-1938 poetry (and sexuality to his earlier work) and to his enduring identity as a poet. Actually, he didn't "flee" Spain so much as accept an invitation to read his poems and lecture in London, then got an offer to teach in Glasgow, and decided not to return once it was clear that Franco was taking power. He hated Scotland (mainly for the cold climate) and New England as well (climate and Yankee personality), where he taught from 1947 to '52 at Mount Holyoke. A visit to Mexico--an an affair there--was all it took to make him feel he had to leave the North. The climate, the language, the easy sensuality of the Mexican way of life, were not exactly Andalusian, but close enough to make him feel far more at home there than in any Anglophone environment where he had lived. All this is revealed quite eloquently in the writings.

Scott Esposito: The poems you'll primarily be talking about at Lit&Lunch are drawn from your translation Desolation of the Chimera, which collects Cernuda's final work and which won the 2010 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets (judged by Edith Grossman). You write that these late poems are from a man cut off from his surroundings, and with nothing left to prove as a poet--essentially, they are Cernuda writing only for himself. What kind of poetry does this give rise to?

Stephen Kessler: I think it gives rise to a naked honesty and unguarded self-revelation that, while highly sophisticated technically, is really rather shocking in its lack of purely literary effects. The poems feel stripped of artifice (though very skillfully composed), so the reader feels as if he or she is witnessing something almost too painful for comfort. At the same time, he somehow manages to transform his grief and passion and anger and frustration into poems that live quite strongly on their own apart from their association with the author.

Scott Esposito: How did the work of translating these late poems compare to translating Cernuda's earlier poetry?

Stephen Kessler: The difference was not so much earlier vs. later (many of the prose poems in Written in Water were written during the same period as Desolation of the Chimera) than between prose and verse, which require certain technical adjustments of the translator. Put most simply, the unit of composition in prose is the sentence, while in verse it's the line. Curiously enough, some of Cernuda's prose poems sound equally or more lyrical than the verse ones, while some of the verse poems seem (as noted above) rather straightforward, almost prosaic. A stanza in a verse poem may be a single sentence, but the poet (or translator) must give each line a certain rhythmic tension or pressure to make it work as a line of verse. In a prose sentence the rhythms are more flexible, adjustable to the thought or description it's meant to convey. How one deals as a translator with such subtleties is largely a function of the ear, how you hear the music, and how you try to create an analogous movement in the new language.

Scott Esposito: Could you talk about a particular translation challenge you encountered while translating the poems in Desolation of the Chimera?

Stephen Kessler: Probably the most difficult aspect of this project was to remain true to the meaning(s) of the poems while creating a sound in English that works as poetry. This is not an uncommon problem in translating any poem, but given the directness of style noted above--and in some cases a more elevated tone, as in "Mozart" for example--the subtlety of the Spanish music was an interesting challenge to my powers of transformation. But for me it's largely a mystery exactly how such problems are (or are not) solved. Doing a translation, as far as I'm concerned, is no more rational a process than writing an original poem. You hope you hear something clearly and are able to write it down before it vanishes. You apply your skills, and you may be able to explain specific decisions later, but with me the process is mostly intuitive. Not fully understanding what I'm doing is what keeps it interesting.

Banff Center Literary Translation Residency

Posted on October 26, 2010, 11:57:00 AM by Scott Esposito

The Center was at the annual American Literary Translators' Association conference last week, and I'm going to be blogging the panels that we attended. Yesterday I wrote about the roundtable on publishing literary translations. Today it's the incredible opportunity for translators that is the Banff translation residency.

Katie Silver's information session on the Banff Center's translation residency program was definitely one of the more worthwhile things I saw at ALTA. If you're a translator and you fit Banff's criteria, I can't imagine why on Earth you wouldn't apply for this. It sounds incredible.

So here's the deal: each year Banff does a 3-week residency for 15 translators, 3 of whom are student translators. You pay the cost of getting there, they pay everything else. You get meals cooked for you, you get to hang out with a community of translators every day for three weeks, they bring your author out to work with you for a week, there's hiking in the mountains, chamber music, theater, workshops, cabarets, parties. Numerous people in the audience testified to the extraordinary contacts they built and maintained at this residency, and everyone absolutely loved it. I don't even translate, and I want to go.

The residency is open to 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. Applicants must have published at least one book-length project (student applicants excepted), and you can apply online. The deadline for the 2011 residencies is Feb 15, and the 2011 residency runs from June 6 through June 25.

Translating Celan Conference

Posted on October 25, 2010, 12:56:00 PM by Scott Esposito

The Goethe Institut in London is holding a conference on translating Paul Celan. If you're interested in attending, here are the details:

On the 90th anniversary of his birth, award-winning translators discuss the challenges of translating Paul Celan, as well as Celan as translator. The conference also includes an impromptu workshop on one particular poem. The conference is on Tuesday, 23 November 2010, 10am to 2pm at the Goethe-Institut London. Speakers include Jean Boase-Beier, Ian Fairley, Charlotte Ryland and Wieland Hoban.

Paul Celan, Europe's most compelling postwar poet and author of the Todesfuge (Death Fugue), was a German-speaking, East European Jew. His writing exposes and illuminates the effects that Nazi destructiveness left on language. Celan's father died in a Ukrainian labour camp; his mother was shot. After this, as Hugo Gryn said, Celan was in the position of being a writer in the language both of his mother and of his mother's murderers. Celan was born on 23 November 1920 in Cernauti, Romania, he drowned himself in the Seine on 20 April 1970 in Paris.

Professor Jean Boase-Beier, University of East Anglia, set up their MA in Literary Translation in 1993 and is an Executive Committee member of the British Comparative Literature Association.

Dr Ian Fairley, teaches Literature at the University of Leeds and has translated two books by Celan. Fadensonne and Schneepart, for which he was awarded the 2008 Schlegel-Tieck Prize for Translation.

Wieland Hoban, a British composer and translator, now resident in Germany, most recently translated the Ingeborg Bachmann-Paul Celan correspondence Herzzeit.

Dr Charlotte Ryland is lecturer in German at Oxford and in 2010 published Paul Celan’s Encounter with Surrealism about Celan’s translation of French surrealist poetry. She is editor of New Books in German.

ALTA Literary Translation Roundtable

Posted on October 25, 2010, 10:53:00 AM by Scott Esposito

The Center was at the annual American Literary Translators' Association conference last week, and I'm going to be blogging the panels that we attended. First up is a literary translation roundtable with quite the line-up: Susan Bernofsky, Jeffrey Yang, and Robyn Cresswell representing New Directions; Christian Hawkey and Anna Moschovakis from Ugly Duckling Presse; and Johannes Goransson from Action Books.

This was a great panel with each press giving a very concrete and very different model of how to publish literary translations. The New Directions contingent got things started off--it was the largest press of the group, with about 30 titles per year and a history that stretched back to the beginning of the 20th century. That long history was key, as the family of New Directions founder James Laughlin gave the press large amounts of financial support during the first 25 years, as it built up an impressive backlist. That kind of a backlist is what now allows New Directions to support new and interesting work, although in today's publishing climate big backlists can be hard to build up (particularly backlists like New Directions', which take a while for the culture to catch up to). Notably, ND also stated that in their opinion translations don't cost more to publish than non-translated titles, a point that has been contentious in the past.

Bernofsky and Cresswell talked about their experience working with New Directions as translators. It was clear that they both greatly appreciated the amount of work the editors at New Directions put into making each translation shine, with Bernofsky talking about her new translation of Jenny Erpenback's novel Visitation (which sounds great), and Cresswell about his translation of Abdelfattah Kilito's also great-looking title The Clash of Images.

The latter is a perfect example of a book that only a press like New Directions could publish: it defies easy categorization, and in fact it was discovered by New Directions because they have strong connections with the PEN Translation Fund and have built up a high level of trust and relationships with translators like Cresswell.

In a similar way, Bernofsky discussed the story of how she began translating Yoko Tawada for New Directions. Essentially she discovered Tawada (who writes in German) in an Austrian journal, translated the piece immediately and sent it to the author care of the journal. While Bernofsky continued to work with Tawada and publish pieces in journals, New Directions discovered Tawada independently of Bernofsky, and when they decided to publish her, Bernofsky was a natural choice. This was, in fact, how Bernofsky started translating for New Directions.

Ugly Duckling had a slightly different model from New Directions: they do 24 - 30 books per year, though at a much lower print run than ND (generally between 1,000 and 1,500 copies). They have what they called a very "horizontal" arrangement, with a group of editors who essentially get excited about a project and then see it through every step of the process, from submission to editing, design, and distribution. Though not a translation press per se (they called their aesthetic a focus on "odd people out"), they do a lot of work with translators, particularly because the press happened to get its start via a grant to translate a great series of East European poets. They also mentioned that they like to work with authors writing in English but for whom English is not a first language, as that tends to give rise to interesting uses of language.

One of the notable parts of their model were the various ways they used to get their books out there--they use course adoptions (which can be huge), annual subscriptions for a year of Ugly Duckling books (which get people exposed to new things), Small Press Distribution, and a group of "partner bookstores" that agree to stock at least two copies of each Ugly Duckling title. Their shotgun approach reflected a desire to do whatever they could to get their books out there and into readers' hands.

Ugly Ducking brought a number of books to show during the panel, all of which were very different from one another in design and look, and all of which also looked beautiful. Some of the titles I recall were Christian Hawkey's Ventrakl, a tiny book by Robert Walser called Answer to An Inquiry, and Chinese Sun. They also do a journal called 6 x 6, which is a route for discovering new projects that they want to do full-length.

Lastly, Action Books talked about translating as a conversation between writers and languages. As the smallest press in the group, they seemed to focus more on the personal connections between writers, translators, and cultures that are possible when you publish literature in translation. They also pointed out that this kind of an endeavor reveals that translation is a space that is nonequal in terms of power and interests. Different cultures value translation differently, and when you're sending books between these cultures, this tends to come out, which one would think is one of the points of translation.

Re-Introducing TWO LINES Online

Posted on October 20, 2010, 05:57:00 AM by Scott Esposito

Each year we have an open submissions for the next volume in our TWO LINES series, and inevitably we end up getting far more great translations than we can publish in a single volume. Because of this, last November we decided to offer 17 great works in translation from the submissions to Wherever I Lie Is Your Bed exclusively online.

We called it TWO LINES Online, and you can see last year's entries right here.

It's a year later now, and we have another great collection of submissions that we weren't able to fit into Some Kind of Beautiful Signal. But the thing is that we're already accepting submissions for the next volume of TWO LINES, and we're soon going to have even more translations to try and publish.

So we've gone ahead and re-engineered TWO LINES Online, turning it into a monthly feature. Each month we'll be publishing a number of works in translation that you can find on the main TWO LINES webpage.

The first offerings in the new and improved TWO LINES Online are already up online, and they are:

Polina Barskova's poem "Happiness," translated from the Russian by Boris Dralyuk and David Stromberg

Eduardo Milán's poems "Meanwhile is the word" and "I want to make it clear that this is completely different," translated from the Spanish by John Oliver Simon

Inger Christensen's poem "Is No One Coming," translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

Oliverio Girondo Is a Violent Man

Posted on October 19, 2010, 11:32:00 AM by Heather Cleary Wolfgang

As part of the publication of the newest TWO LINES, we're featuring short essays by translators on the pieces they have in the new volume. Today we have Heather Cleary Wolfgang on the Argentine poet Olivero Girondo. Wolfgang translated Girondo's poetry for Some Kind of Beautiful Signal, the newest TWO LINES.

If you're intrigued by what you see, you can order Some Kind of Beautiful Signal directly from the Center right here, or on Amazon right here, or Indiebound right here.

More than forty years after his passing, Oliverio Girondo is still something of a household name in Argentina. Yet when people speak of him in North America, if they speak of him at all, his life and work are usually refracted through the eyes of his contemporaries. There is, most famously, his feud with Jorge Luis Borges, which was of both a literary and a personal nature (it involved a lady) and his friendships on both sides of the Atlantic with writers such as Ramón Gómez de la Serna, Pablo Neruda, and Federico García Lorca. Yet little is said of Girondo’s foundational role in the development of the Latin American avant-garde, and less still about his unique aesthetic project, which pairs prose with verse, the grotesque with the sublime, to create a poetic language all his own.

Girondo was born to a wealthy family in Buenos Aires at the turn of the 20th century. As a young man, he cut a deal with his parents: he would humor them by attending law school on the condition that they send him to Europe every year. This arrangement allowed the poet to come into contact with writers and literary movements that would have a profound influence on his early work and would help shape the literary landscape of Buenos Aires in the ‘20s and ‘30s.

Titled Veinte poemas para ser leídos en el tranvía (1922), the poet’s first collection takes a swipe at high modernism by asserting that poetry need not be relegated to the halls of academia or the rarefied space of the salon. Its poems are a series of snapshots that evoke both the photographic image and the frenzy of city life. Though most of these focus on the urban landscape, I’ve chosen one that was written in Mar de Plata, a popular resort town in Argentina, as a bit of a farewell to summer.


The morning strolls along the beach dusted with sun.

Aputated legs.
Bodies intermingling.
Floating rubber heads.

Tossing the bodies of the bathers, the waves spread their shavings along the sawdust beach.

Everything is blue and gold!

The shade of the cabanas. The eyes of girls who inject themselves with novels and horizons. My joy, in rubber-soled shoes, that makes me bounce along the sand. For eighty cents, photographers sell the bodies of the bathing women.

There are kiosks that exploit the drama of the coast. Moody servant girls. Irascible soda water, with a hint of brine. Rocks with the seaweed breast of a sailor and the painted heart of a fencer. Flocks of seagulls that mimic the weary flight of a scrap of paper.

And above all, the sea!
The sea! Rhythm of digression. The sea! with its spittle and its epilepsy.

The sea! . . . until you scream
                                                       like at the circus.

In his review of Girondo’s second collection, Calcomanías (1925), Borges half-approvingly asserts that the poet is “a violent man” who looks at something for a time and then suddenly slaps it in the face, crumples it up and holds on to it for safekeeping. Girondo did indeed have a penchant not only for disruption, but also for collection. Nothing, not the primordial pornography being sold along the shore or the stray dog ‘with the hips of a ballerina,’ is overlooked in Veinte poemas, and nothing is left unchanged by the poet’s gaze.

In 1932, following his own dictum that “A book should be constructed like a watch and sold like a sausage,” the poet released his next collection, Espantapájaros: al alcance de todos, amid a publicity spectacle the likes of which had never been seen in Buenos Aires. The poet hired a funeral carriage and two drivers in formal attire to cart a giant papier-mâché scarecrow in a top hat and monocle around the city while attractive young women sold copies of the book from a storefront on a busy street downtown. This collection, made up of one concrete poem shaped like a scarecrow and 24 prose poems, marks a turning point in Girondo’s production. Whereas the collections that come before it tend to center on the image, those that follow begin to move toward the linguistic experimentation that characterizes his later work.

Girondo brings this experimentation to its logical illogical conclusion with his final collection, En la masmédula (1956), known in English as In the Moremarrow. In this work, language not only serves as a means of conveying ideas or images, but becomes an experience unto itself. Between its neologisms and its complex rhythmic and phonetic structures, this is a collection that is meant to be felt just as much as it is meant to be read.


I touch
I poke pores
touch tastes
neural lattice
tissues that touch me
touch tropics paunches
lonely only
I palpate and mastocate
and nothing

Harbingers of absence
inconsistent tropes
what you
what what
what whistles
what chasms
what masks
what hollow solitudes
what yes what no
what if not unhinged by a touch
what shadows
what depths
what bewitching elements
what keys
what midnight matter
what cages not unlocked
what naught I touch
in all

The Next from the Nobelist

Posted on October 19, 2010, 10:11:00 AM by Scott Esposito

The Guardian runs down the next bok from newly minted Nobel Prize recipient, Mario Vargas Llosa:

The ghost of Roger Casement – martyr and traitor, liberator and predator – is once again beating on the door. The former British consul who died an Irish revolutionary has remained a persistently unquiet spirit in the 94 years since his life ended in a Pentonville prison noose, and Casement's knocks could soon prove deafening – thanks to the Peruvian-born winner of this year's Nobel prize for literature.

Casement's story is staggering. Born in Dublin to a Protestant father and a Roman Catholic mother, he went on to become British consul in the Congo, where he was commissioned by the British government to examine forced labour in the Congo Free State. His report on the atrocities he witnessed contributed to Leopold II of Belgium's relinquishment of his colonial fiefdom.

In other Vargas Llosa news, FSG has a conversation between Natasha Wimmer and Edith Grossman, two translators who happen to be well-connected to the Center. Wimmer, of course, co-edited our latest book, and Grossman was a Lit&Lunch guest a couple years ago, where she spoke very eloquently about Vargas Llosa.

The Paris Review and Languagehat Praise Some Kind of Beautiful Signal

Posted on October 18, 2010, 12:22:00 PM by Scott Esposito

Couple of nice raves for Some Kind of Beautiful Signal, which, if you're interested in owning for yourself you can order directly from the Center right here, or on Amazon right here, or Indiebound right here.

First up is The Paris Review, which writes:

Each year, the Center for the Art of Translation publishes an anthology series called Two Lines that focuses on literary translation. This year’s anthology is titled Some Kind of Beautiful Signal, and it was edited by the translator Natasha Wimmer and the poet Jeffrey Yang. . . . Not only is it printed multilingually (which I love as a reader), but it includes as many as fifteen different languages, including Zapotec and Uyghur! We here at The Paris Review offer a hearty congratulations to Wimmer and Yang for their hard work.

And then there's Languagehat:

Seven and a half years ago I posted about a remarkable literary magazine called Two Lines: "they present everything bilingually—completely in the case of poetry, usually only the first page in the original for prose." I'm happy to say they're still around, and the latest issue, Some Kind of Beautiful Signal, which the Center for the Art of Translation kindly sent me, is full of good things. Hands down the most exotic original language is Zapotec, represented by two Natalia Toledo poems, translated by Clare Sullivan not from Zapotec but from the author's Spanish translations (also provided), "Cayache batee ladxidó' guidxilayú" (Fire is reborn on the soil of the earth) and "Gurié xa'na' ti ba'canda'" (Seated in the shadows). The highest-profile inclusion would be a tie between an excerpt from Lydia Davis's new translation of Madame Bovary and a brief piece by Roberto Bolaño, "La traducción es un yunque" (rendered by Natasha Wimmer, oddly, as "Translation Is a Testing Ground" rather than the literal and surely more evocative "Translation Is an Anvil").


I'm holding the poem up to the light: Translating H.E. Sayeh

Posted on October 18, 2010, 11:11:00 AM by Fayre Makeig

As part of the publication of the newest TWO LINES, we're featuring short essays by translators on the pieces they have in the new volume. Today we have Fayre Makeig on the Irani poet Hushang Ebtahaj, who wrote under the name H.E. Sayeh. Makeig translated Sayeh's poetry for Some Kind of Beautiful Si... [more]

Men Have Been Obsessed with Women Since Adam and Eve

Posted on October 14, 2010, by Matt Reeck

As part of the publication of the newest TWO LINES, we're featuring short essays by translators on the pieces they have in the new volume. Today we have Matt Reeck on the great Urdu writer Saadar Hasan Manto. Reeck co-translated Manto's story "Smell" for Some Kind of Beautiful Signal, the ... [more]

Pâté de Foie

Posted on October 13, 2010, 12:45:00 PM by Susanna Nied

As part of the publication of the newest TWO LINES, we're featuring short essays by translators on the pieces they have in the new volume. Today we have Susanna Nied on the great Danish poet Inger Christensen. Nied translated three of Christensen's poems for Some Kind of Beautiful Signal, the newest... [more]

Gennady Aygi and Franz Kafka

Posted on October 11, 2010, by Peter France

As part of the publication of the newest TWO LINES, we're going to feature short essays by translators on the pieces they have in the new volume. Today starts things off with Peter France on the links between Kafka and Chuvashian poet Gennady Aygi. France translated two of the perennial Nobel conten... [more]

Editors' Week: Jeffrey Yang's Introduction to Uyghur Poetry

Posted on October 8, 2010, by Scott Esposito

To celebrate the release of the latest TWO LINES, called Some Kind of Beautiful Signal, we've asked the editors--Natasha Wimmer and Jeffrey Yang--to do some interviews and blogging about the book. We're calling it Editors' Week. Earlier this week we published an interview with Natasha Wimmer... [more]

Editors' Week: Jeffrey Yang on Translating and Publishing Uyghur Poetry

Posted on October 7, 2010, by Scott Esposito

To celebrate the release of the latest TWO LINES, called Some Kind of Beautiful Signal, we've asked the editors--Natasha Wimmer and Jeffrey Yang--to do some interviews and blogging about the book. We're calling it Editors' Week. Earlier this week we published an interview with Natasha Wimmer, a... [more]

TWO VOICES: Carolina de Robertis on Bonsai

Posted on October 6, 2010, by Scott Esposito

A copy of this podcast can be downloaded here. You can also subscribe to all of the Center's audio on iTunes, or in RSS. In this podcast from the Center for the Art of Translation, award-winning author and translator Carolina de Robertis discusses her translation of the Chilean novel Bonsai by Al... [more]

Editors' Week: Natasha Wimmer on Bioy, Schweblin, and Argentine Cult Classics

Posted on October 5, 2010, by Scott Esposito

To celebrate the release of the latest TWO LINES, called Some Kind of Beautiful Signal, we've asked the editors--Natasha Wimmer and Jeffrey Yang--to do some interviews and blogging about the book. We're calling it Editors' Week.Yesterday's interview with Natasha Wimmer is available here, and today... [more]

Editors' Week: Interview with Natasha Wimmer

Posted on October 4, 2010, by Scott Esposito

To celebrate the release of the latest TWO LINES, called Some Kind of Beautiful Signal, we've asked the editors--Natasha Wimmer and Jeffrey Yang--to do some interviews and blogging about the book. We're calling it Editors' Week. First up is an interview with Natasha Wimmer. And if you're intrigued ... [more]

Granta's Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists Features a Two Lines Writer

Posted on October 3, 2010, by Scott Esposito

Granta has just released a great list of 22 of the "Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists." We were very pleased to see that one of our writers in Some Kind of Beautiful Signal--Samanta Schweblin--has been named to the list. This is no surprise to us, as the story of Schweblin's that we'r... [more]