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

It's National Poetry Month!

Posted on April 21, 2014, 01:34:00 PM by Erin Branagan

Just in time for the celebration, we heard that three Poetry Inside Out student poets are finalists in the 19th annual international River of Words contest for environmental art and poetry by young people. The awards ceremony will be at Saint Mary’s College on Sunday, June 15.

Besides getting an introduction to poetry from around the world and learning to translate poems, Poetry Inside Out students get the chance to use their imaginations and write original poetry. These lessons are so different from most of their school day that the program can make a huge difference in their lives.

Recently one of our teaching artists told us a story about one of her kids, “a boy who was constantly getting up out of his seat, dancing around the classroom, or talking loudly with the boy next to him about video games. When approached, he refused to attempt any sort of writing.” It turns out that this boy’s dad had recently gone to prison. Over the next few lessons the instructor noticed that he listened more closely than the other students. She saw that when he refused to do something, if she approached him quietly and said “I think you should do this”, he did. He wrote poem after poem, many sad.

“It made me realize how writing could be an important emotional outlet for him, and how much he could benefit from my translating his ‘no’ into a ‘please.’”

In the spirit of National Poetry Month, and to celebrate our amazing and gutsy student writers, here are a few of their poems:


I am not myself
I am like a shadow that sees me
when I speak
He stands tall when I move
When I talk he talks
but silently so I cannot hear him
He speaks up for me
just like I do for you
and we talk but he doesn’t talk to me
All he does is watch
All I see is fear
All I can hear is my big heart pounding
like a big thunderstorm
He likes to steer, I like to ride
the fastest roller coaster
He likes to watch everywhere I go

Daybreak Mouse

That daybreak mouse
with hovering birds
tells me that I should
dance and sing

We are humans that
are alive on this earth
we stand here
and rejoice and sing

Job Opening: Poetry Inside Out Research & Curriculum Director

Posted on April 14, 2014, 10:10:00 AM by Mark Hauber

The Center’s Poetry Inside Out education program is looking for a part-time Research & Curriculum Director. The Research & Curriculum Director is responsible for the development, administration, oversight, and evaluation of Poetry Inside Out methodology and lesson plans; charged with implementing the professional development program, and will lead research on local, state, and national educational objectives.

Interested? Read more here.

Introducing Our New Executive Director Michael Holtmann

Posted on April 8, 2014, 01:14:00 PM by Erin Branagan

Happy Spring! In keeping with this season of new beginnings, we wanted to share an exciting update: Michael Holtmann recently joined the Center as our new Executive Director.

Michael joins us from Washington, DC, where he was most recently Program Manager at the National Endowment for the Arts. He oversaw The Big Read, the national community reading program, Poetry Out Loud, the national poetry recitation contest; and Shakespeare in American Communities, the national theater touring program. He has also worked at the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Angelika Film Center.

Michael is a passionate champion of literature in translation and he is looking forward to getting to know our community of readers, translators, authors, teachers, and students. If you live in the Bay Area, you’ll have a chance to meet him at one of our upcoming events, or feel free to get in touch at mholtmann (at)