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

Who Is the Man of Pain?

Posted on August 17, 2015, 11:12:00 AM by Sarah Coolidge

This post is also available on the Two Lines Press website. It was written by Poetry Inside Out Program Coordinator Sarah Coolidge. In addition to her work with Poetry Inside Out, Sarah offers editorial assisatnce to the Two Lines journal, and she’s our in-house photographer for Two Voices events.

When I first searched the name Richard Weiner online, I found only a short Wikipedia article and a handful of blog posts by Slavic literature enthusiasts, clearly intended for fellow academics and speakers of Czech. I was intrigued but bewildered. Here and there I caught bits of information: passing remarks about the writer’s sexuality, France, WWI, and odd comparisons to Franz Kafka and Marcel Proust, amounting to mere fragments of a life lived and obscured for nearly a century. I wished I knew Czech.

After speaking this past spring to Benjamin Paloff, Weiner’s translator and a professor at the University of Michigan, I realized that Weiner was a contradiction of identities, much like his protagonists. “It’s no longer, and not yet, real; it’s the most beautiful moment he could ask of waking,” the narrator tells us in the opening pages of “The Game for the Honor of Payback,” the second part of The Game for Real. It seems that all of Weiner’s protagonists live in worlds in which they would rather not exist. In these worlds—I say worlds because Weiner’s universe is multifaceted and malleable—they are pursued, invaded, manipulated, ignored, accused, and shamed. And in this particular case, the protagonist is literally referred to as Shame...

Read the rest of the post here.

You can also listen to audio of our San Francisco event with Ben Paloff and our New York City event with Paloff and fellow translator Alex Zucker, and order a copy of The Game For Real.

Summer Learning for Philadelphia Teachers

Posted on August 2, 2015, 10:30:00 PM by Sarah Coolidge and Mark Hauber

On July 24th and 25th Poetry Inside Out took part in the Philadelphia Writing Project’s annual Invitational Summer Institute. Focusing on literacy approaches and key instructional strategies, the yearly Summer Institute works with a select group of teachers from the greater Philadelphia School District, equipping them with the skills needed to meet the needs of their students.   

Over the course of the two-day workshop, Poetry Inside Out’s Director of Curriculum and Research, Marty Rutherford, led the 36 participating teachers through the ins and outs of the rigorous poetry and translation curriculum. They went through the same process that their students will follow: learning the basics of literary translation and translating poems in small groups, discussing and defending their translations, and for a brave few, reading their translations aloud to the group.

The teachers were enthusiastic, united by a desire to educate and empower their students across a range of disciplines. One teacher told us afterward, “I think this will really help my students think deeply about words, word meanings, concepts--and life!” Another participant said, “Poetry Inside Out is a great way to build community in the classroom with all the diverse learners.” We also heard “multilingual texts in the classroom is an immense resource for giving a voice to English Language Learner students.” During the upcoming school year they’ll be bringing the program to their classrooms—stay tuned for updates!


Interested in becoming a member of a growing network of Poetry Inside Out teachers using creative and imaginative ways to engage kids in literacy learning?

Join us on Sept 25th and 26th for our next Poetry Inside Out Bay Area workshop. Interested teachers should contact Mark Hauber at mhauber [at] for further information and to learn how to register.