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

10 Things You Might Not Know About the Arts and Learning

Posted on September 11, 2014, 11:27:00 AM by Erin Branagan

It’s back to school season again—time for new books, school supplies, and a sense of anticipation about what the new year will bring. We thought we’d celebrate by sharing 10 sometimes-surprising facts about learning and the arts.

1. The arts improve student learning and engagement.

2. Students who study art are 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement and 3 times more likely to be awarded for school attendance.

3. Arts and music education programs are mandatory in countries that rank consistently among the highest for math and science test scores, like Japan, Hungary, and the Netherlands.

4. The No Child Left Behind act clearly mandates the arts as a core academic subject.

5. Federal funding for the arts and humanities is $250 million a year, while the National Science Foundation is funded around the $5 billion mark.

6. Arts education encourages the kind of creative and critical thinking necessary for our 21st century world.

7. Sustained learning in music and theater correlates strongly with higher achievement in both math and reading.

8. Arts in the schools help close the achievement gap: high-poverty schools in Chicago that participated in an arts education initiative made huge strides in closing the achievement gap between high and low-income students.

9. In-school and out of school art studies and activities help keep high-risk students in school.

10. New brain research shows that not only does music improve skills in math and reading, but it promotes creativity, social development, personality adjustment, and self-worth.

And one bonus fact: The arts make kids happy!
We know that the more creative outlets kids have, the happier they are.

Surprised? Got another fact to add? Let us know on our Facebook page!

50 Books in Translation for Your Reading List

Posted on August 28, 2014, 04:20:00 PM by Erin Branagan

As promised earlier this week, we’re delighted to post the list of the 50+ books in translation recommended by the contributors to the NEA’s recent “Art of Empathy” collection of essays. (Not ranked, just in alphabetical order by author name) And of course, each suggestion includes the translator’s name.

Even for experienced readers of books in translation, there are gems to discover on this list.

A Fool’s Life by Ryonosuke Akutagawa, translated from the Japanese by Will Peterson.

The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard, translated from the French by Maria Jolas.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, translated from the French by Alison Anderson.

Chinese Letter by Svetislav Basara, translated from the Serbian by Ana Lucic.

I Never Dared Hope for You by Christian Bobin, translated from the French by Alison Anderson.

2666 by Roberto Bolaño, translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer.

Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges, translated from the Spanish by Donald A. Yates and James E. Irby.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, translated from the English into Chinese by Yuan-ren Chao.

Anton Chekhov: A Life in Letters, translated from the Russian by Rosamund Bartlett and Anthony Phillips.

Claudine at School by Colette, translated from the French by Antonia White.

Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar, translated from the Spanish by Gregory Rabassa.

Inferno by Dante, translated from the Italian by Mary Jo Bang, John Ciardi, Jean Hollander, Robert Pinsky, Allen Mandelbaum, John D. Sinclair, or Charles S. Singleton.

Why Did You Leave the Horse Alone? by Mahmoud Darwish, translated from the Arabic by Jeffrey Sacks.

Chronicles of Hell by Michel de Ghelderode, translated from the French by George Hauger.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, translated from the Russian by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky

Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky, translated from the Russian by Constance Garnett.

A Passenger from the West by Nabile Farès, translated from the French by Peter Thompson.

Montauk by Max Frisch, translated from the German by Robin Skelton.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman.

Desert Blood: The Juárez Murders by Alicia Gaspar de Alba, translated from the English into Spanish by Rosario Sanmiguel.

Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, translated from the Russian by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, Robert Maguire, or Donald Rayfield.

The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass, translated from the German by Breon Mitchell.

The Valley by Rolando Hinojosa, translated from the Spanish by the author.

The Odyssey by Homer, translated from the Ancient Greek by Charles Stein.

Too Loud a Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal, translated from the Czech by Michael Henry Heim.

“I, too, Sing America” by Langston Hughes, translated from the English into Spanish by Fernández de Castro.

Spring Essence: The Poetry of Ho Xuan Huong, translated from the Nom by John Balaban.

The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, translated from the Persian by Edward FitzGerald.

The Joke by Milan Kundera, translated from the Czech by Michael Henry Heim.

Nada by Carmen Laforet, translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman.

Barabbas by Pär Lagerkvist, translated from the Swedish by Alan Blair.

Osip Mandelstam: Selected Poems, translated from the Russian by David McDuff.

Your Face Tomorrow by Javier Marías, translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa.

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne, translated from English to Polish by Irena Tuwim.

Life, a User’s Manual by Georges Perec, translated from the French by David Bellos.

State of Exile by Cristina Peri Rossi, translated from the Spanish by Marilyn Buck.

Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin, translated from the Russian by James Falen.

“Archaic Torso of Apollo,” by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated from the German by Stephen Mitchell.

Late into the Night: The Last Poems of Yannis Ritsos, translated from the Greek by Martin McKinsey.

The Tale of the 1002nd Night by Joseph Roth, translated from the German by Michael Hoffman.

Night by Vedrana Rudan, translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth.

If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho, translated from the Ancient Greek by Anne Carson.

The Book of Monelle by Marcel Schwob, translated from the French by Kit Schluter

Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald, translated from the German by Anthea Bell.

Maidenhair by Mikhail Shishkin, translated from the Russian by Marian Schwartz.

The Book of Blam by Aleksandar Ti?ma, translated from the Serbo-Croatian by Michael Henry Heim.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, translated from the Russian by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.

Vain Art of the Fugue by Dumitru Tsepeneag, translated from the Romanian by Patrick Camiller.

The Art of Peace by Morihei Ueshiba, translated from the Japanese by John Stevens.

The Complete Poetry by César Vallejo, translated from the Spanish by Clayton Eshleman.

Dante’s Ballad by Eduardo González Viaña, translated from the Spanish by Susan Giersbach-Rascón.

Happy Reading!

Boost Your Empathy With Translation

Posted on August 26, 2014, 01:18:00 PM by Erin Branagan

Our friends at the National Endowment for the Arts have done a tremendous amount to support literature in translation and individual translators. They are one of the largest funders of translation presses like Two Lines, Archipelago Books, Open Letter Books and others; and they award generous grants to translators—all to the tune of more than $8 million over the past 30 years.

The NEA also funds research into American’s reading habits, and just recently released a collection of essays about translation. We admit it, we’re biased (we owe some of Two Lines’ growth and success to grants we’ve received from the NEA), but still think this is a great read for any fan of literature in translation.

“The Art of Empathy” includes almost 20 personal essays from translators, teachers, and publishers. Many of them beautifully illustrate how translation brings us together—despite our diverse array of language, cultures, and traditions—and helps us understand each other.

Center for the Art of Translation founder and Italian translator Olivia Sears writes in her essay that “translation allows us to know each other better, and therefore feel more connected to one another, here at home” and across our increasingly diverse neighborhoods. Translator Johanna Warren poetically talks about her belief that “this connective quality of translation is essential to the spiritual evolution of our species.”

Inspired? Read or download the report here.

Looking for a reading list? We’ll post the more than 50 suggestions from the report later this week.

Your Summer News Roundup

Posted on July 8, 2014, 03:58:00 PM by Erin Branagan

You can only think so much about movies and the World Cup, so we've put together a roundup of education and literature-related items for these midsummer days.

It's too early to think about school again, but it's a good day when a city announces more funding for the arts. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has just pledged $23 million to boost arts instruction and hire more than 100 teachers, concentrating on underserved schools.

While California's arts funding can't compare to New York's or many other states, the Legislature just approved a budget that includes a $5 million increase to the California Arts Council budget.

And a strapped school district found a creative way to fund their recently eliminated music program and projects to save about $750,000 over the next five years.

Upgrade your beach reading with this article about how literature influenced the evolution of modern medicine.

Science fiction your thing? Ever wondered about diversity in the genre? NPR's Latino USA did a great segment on Diversity in Fantasy and Sci-Fi.

And it just wouldn't be summer without some mention of movies, but with a translation twist: A Freelance Career, Found in Translation.

photo by Niamh

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)

5/17: Translation Workshop with Denise Newman

Posted on March 17, 2014, 02:19:00 PM by Scott Esposito

DeniseNewmanBay Area translators: this is your chance to participate in a one-time-only translation workshop with a local poet and one of the best translators from Danish working today: Denise Newman.

You can apply for this workshop right here. The total number of participants will be capped at 12. Although Denise translates from Danish, this workshop is open to all translators, regardless of language.

Denise is the translator of possibly Denmark's greatest writer, Inger Christensen, as well as Two Lines Press's forthcoming book, Baboon, by award-winner Naja Marie Aidt. In addition to being an outstanding translator, Denise is a widely published poet and a teacher at California College of Arts. She also received a 2013 NEA Translation Fellowship to complete her translation of Baboon.

Denise will lead a three-hour class, where students will have the chance to both work on a translation and workshop it with their fellow students. This lively, hands-on workshop will include in-depth group discussion and direct practice with various strategies and craft considerations surrounding the art of translation.

Participants will also receive a FREE, ONE-YEAR SUBSCRIPTION to Two Lines Press's 2014 titles, a value of over $50.

WHERE: the offices of the Center for the Art of Translation, 582 Market St., Suite 700

WHEN: Saturday, May 17, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm

Entrance into the workshop will be granted on an application basis. To apply, submit a two-page translation sample via our Submittable page.

Submissions will be judged by the staff of Two Lines Press. Applicants will be notified of our decision within two weeks. Once notified, your spot in the workshop will be held for three days before another applicant may be invited to attend in your place.

Applicants who are accepted and pay their registration fee by April 28, 2014, are offered a discounted admission of $75. To be considered for discounted admission we must receive your application no later than April 21.

All attendees who pay on or after April 29 must pay the full price of $100.

The workshop will be capped at 12 participants. First come, first served. You are encouraged to apply early.

Please note: although Denise is a translator of Danish literature, this workshop is open to translators from all languages.

Any questions may be emailed to Scott Esposito at

All applications must be made via our Submittable page.

Meet Two Lines Press in Seattle!

Posted on February 25, 2014, 02:19:00 PM by Scott Esposito

We're all headed out to the annual AWP Conference in Seattle—drop by and say hello to us at TLP's FIRST AWP EVER! We'll be at table B10. So make sure to drop by, say hi, and get us off to a fantastic start. Show your support for translation excellence!

At our booth you'll find all sorts of great things: we'll be giving away 3 separate chapbooks previewing some of the great writing coming down the pike in 2014.

You'll also have a chance to get your hands on the few remaining copies of our signed Naja Marie Aidt chapbooks

Plus, we'll have a special Running through Beijing giveaway that only for conference attendees! You'll get to see all of our 2013 offerings in the wild, & did we mention the great conference-only deals on subscriptions and back issues of Two Lines?

We're also very excited to be reading at one of the coolest events happening this year—the sexy, sexy Journal Porn. It's all going down at the Black Coffee Coop, 501 E Pine St in Seattle. Starting at 8:00 pm, you'll hear readings from Two Lines and our fellow journals Big Fiction, Parcel, and Versal. Among all the entertainment going all will be live music from the rocking Seattle band XVIII Eyes. Have a look:




Hello from Two Lines Press

Posted on January 21, 2014, 04:01:00 PM by Scott Esposito

Hello to everyone in the Center for the Art of Translation's community! It's been a very busy 2013, and we apologize for the radio silence on our blog. But, we're sure you'll more than forgive us, as the Center's Two Lines Press program has been doing some wonderful things for the cause of translation.

You see, after putting out a leading journal of translation for two decades, we decided it's high time we put our expertise to work by publishing full-length books of translation. So that's just what we didi in 2013, calling it Two Lines Press, and things have been going very well so far! We're getting people to pay attention to translation in places we never knew we'd reach! We've done events with translators and authors on both coasts of the United States. And each of our titles gives the translator top billing, right alongside the author on the cover. How about that!

So what all has been going on? For starters, you can have a look at a wonderful review that the 20th anniversary edition of Two Lines, called Landmarks, received just this week. That review caps off an extraordinary year that saw the inaugural titles from Two Lines Press get coverage in places like Harper's, The New Yorker, Little Star, Rain Taxi, Publishers Weekly, SF Weekly, ZYZZYVA, and lots more. You can find out more about all the great news by having a look at each of our title's individual page on the Two Lines Press website. A great place to start is at our digital catalog.

And for those of you who have enjoyed all the translators, publishers, editors, and other translation professionals we have been featuring on our podcast, That Other Word, you will find all the latest at its new home on the Web, right here. Recent episodes include the amazing Kenyan author and translator Ngugi wa Thiong'o and the new translation publishers Will Evans and E.J. Van Lanen.