Online | Fiction | Nonfiction | Reading Group

4 Weeks of Reading in Translation as Writers

Only a very small percentage of literature published in the US is literature in translation. However, as readers and writers, it is important that we go beyond the borders of national literary traditions and the English language to find inspiration, expand our horizons, and be in conversation with the larger global literary landscape. In this eight-week, four-session class, we will read and discuss a range of literary genres—from novels, to hybrid works, to short stories, to essays—from different languages and geographical regions around the world.

Each class will start with a guided discussion of the week’s reading. The discussions will focus both on the content of the readings and their craft and formal choices. The instructor will also contextualize each author, their works, and the particular translation at hand, while teaching about translation concepts and practices in general and how they relate to writing. Participants should come to class having completed the reading for the week. They also need to have selected a few passages that have stood out to them to assist with in-class conversation.

Books will include:

- The Amulet by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Chris Andrews

- Flights by Olga Tokarvzuk, translated by Jennifer Croft

- The Book of Tehran by multiple writers, edited by Fereshteh Ahmadi, translated by multiple translators

- In the Presence of Absence by Mahmoud Darwish, translated by Sinan Antoon

Participants need to come to the first session having completed the reading of The Amulet.

The final portion of each session is dedicated to writing prompts offered in conversation with the week’s reading. Participants will do some in-class writing and are invited to post their pieces—further developed and edited—to the class shell for brief instructor feedback.

Note: Any ‘Reading...as Writers’ student can opt in to a 45-minute consultation with the instructor for an additional fee of $105, in which you receive one-on-one feedback on any writing that emerged from the course, including ideas for revision and specific line edits. Please email [email protected] after your final group meeting to arrange a consultation.

Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features.

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

- Examination of four authors from different corners of the world—Latin America, Europe, and Middle East—translated from four different languages—Spanish, Hungarian, Persian, and Arabic

- Familiarity with a wide range of craft development elements

- Familiarity with concepts of translation, translators’ practices, and their intersections with writing

- Exploration of the diverse themes and styles of the readings, both in discussion and through writing exercises in a supportive creative environment

- a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes

COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

- Participants must have full access to the four readings, either as physical copies or e-books

- Participants are expected to have read The Amulet before the first session of class

- Participants are expected to have finished the reading for each session and selected passages before coming to class

- Participants are expected to take part in class conversations, preferably orally if not through Zoom chat

- Participants are expected to write in response to the offered prompts and upload them for brief feedback from the instructor

COURSE SKELETON:

Week One: The Amulet, by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Chris Andrews. Discussion of monologue, circular narrative structure, writing inspired by historical events, and translation.

Week Two: Flights, by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft. Discussion of hybrid experimental prose form, combining fiction, memoir, travelogue, philosophical ruminations, and translation.

Week Three: The Book of Tehran, edited by Fereshteh Ahmadi, multiple writers, multiple translators. Discussion of how a city can come to life in the eyes of different writers and how multiple translators can give life to these diverse authorial voices.

Week Four: In the Presence of Absence, by Mahmoud Darwish, translated by Sinan Antoon. Discussion of lyric essays, voice, writing about grief and historical trauma, as well as translation. 

Poupeh Missaghi

Poupeh Missaghi is a writer, a translator both into and out of Persian, an editor, and an educator. She holds a PhD in English and creative writing from the University of Denver, an MA in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University, and an MA in translation studies. Her debut novel trans(re)lating house one was published by Coffee House Press. I’ll Be Strong for You, her translation of Nasim Marashi’s novel, is forthcoming in spring 2021. She co-edits Matters of Feminist Practice from Belladonna* Collaborative and teaches at Pratt, Pacific Northwest College of Art, and at Baruch College.

Testimonials

“Poupeh Missaghi’s TRANS(RE)LATING HOUSE ONE, through a fascinating synthesis of poetic form and rhetorical voice, strikingly theorizes our incessant need to narrate death and ‘to translate loss into language,’ while affirming those who memorialize, who make art, who witness. TRANS(RE)LATING HOUSE ONE documents disappearance. It documents state murders. It documents the disappearance of art, culture, and documentation itself. These urgent narratives make real what the cold facts cannot contain: how the corpses were once bodies that were loved, how they loved others, how they were tortured, how the authorities do all that they can to not name the missing, to conceal the histories, and to prevent society from understanding, grieving, and healing. TRANS(RE)LATING HOUSE ONE resonates with recent masterworks about disappearance, such as Sara Uribe’s ANTIGONA GONZALEZ or Patricio Guzmán’s NOSTALGIA FOR THE NIGHT, where the search to find the disappeared becomes inseparable from how we understand the hemisphere, the nation, and even the universe itself. This is a rare and remarkable book.”

Daniel Borzutzky poet & translator

“In this beautiful and brave book, art, love, death, and shards of the city accrete into a crucial archive of unbearable loss, but also of rich, fierce life. Echoing the probing explorations of Edmond Jabès, Anna Akhmatova and Charlotte Delbo, but with concerns and methods all her own, Poupeh Missaghi has fashioned a novel that bears clear-eyed witness and calls into question the act of witnessing, that beautifully renders a time and a place and interrogates whether such an endeavor is possible at all. The process of making and unmaking mirrors the world of missing art and bodies at the book’s center. This is important work. I hope Missaghi’s stunning debut finds its way into many hands.”

Laird Hunt writer & translator

“Poupeh Missaghi is so keenly attuned to the frequencies of city life that reading her novel of Tehran felt like a revelation. In fragments layered over one another, moments are extended, lives are resurrected, lovers meet, and many questions are asked. Which of the dead do we honor and why? Whose stories do we listen to, and why do we listen to them, and are we ever really listening? trans(re)lating house one is a searching, brilliant novel completely unlike anything I’ve ever read.”

Shuchi Saraswat Brookline Booksmith

“This is the second event I've attended that was led by Poupeh, and both times she introduced multiple perspectives of the topic, encouraging participants to look at writing from a historic, layered, perspective. In both sessions with Poupeh, I took pages of notes because everything she and the other participants said was illuminating. She invited participants to engage throughout the session, so it was less of a lecture and more of a living breathing class with speakers building off of each other and responding to each other. ... I left the session wishing it could be an ongoing class and also having dozens of ideas for writing. Poupeh is one of those instructors/speakers who brings out nuanced and thoughtful comments from the participants. I'd love to take more classes with her, especially a longer generative writing class.”

former student Lighthouse Writers Workshop

“Every course I've taken from Poupeh, including this one, elevates, lifts and "calls" to participants, taking us to depths personally (or, if I may, "soul"-fully) while approaching the challenges of craft, enlightening while exhorting. Rare combination, and does so generously, invitingly, and encouragingly. I love, too, that her instruction does not pull punches, that the work demands everything of us -- not just a compartmentalized "writer side"--all while revealing that there's a "true" part of us lying in wait to meet these challenges. Brings a great presence to the instruction space ... No matter the subject, I always come away more seriously, imaginatively, and playfully occupying my humanity.”

former student Lighthouse Writers Workshop

“I just wanted to tell you how much I loved your class. The information and sources were great; but your insights were fabulous. I was so excited about the concepts you introduced, and found myself full of questions and desires for more. I so appreciate you taking the time to introduce so many concepts...Thank you.”

former student Lighthouse Writers Workshop