Ever wanted to translate but didn’t know how or where to start? This class is primarily geared to writers who have never translated before or who are just getting started in the process.
Beginner translators should have a basic or working knowledge of another language, but they definitely need not be fluent or even comfortable speakers. You can translate from any language, but all students will be translating work into English. And if you want to translate poetry but are an essay writer, it doesn’t matter—translation is a fun and unique opportunity to dive into literary styles other than your own.
To hone those translation skills, I will guide you in how to effectively use a dictionary, shape a voice, and dive into the art of revision. You will also read other literature in translation and respond to what works or doesn’t, as well as compare multiple translations of the same work (i.e. The Odyssey and In Search of Lost Time).
After taking this class, you’ll have a deeper understanding of the translation landscape. We will read other translations and texts by translators who have written about their process, such as Kate Briggs, Susan Bernofsky, John Keene, Lydia Davis, and others. You will get a range of perspectives on how to approach the craft, from Walter Benjamin’s The Task of the Translator to David Bellos’s playful and insightful Is That a Fish In Your Ear?.
- Feel comfortable enough to say that you are now a translator
- Translate either two shorter works or one longer work
- Make an informed, thoughtful decision of which authors you are translating and how
WEEK 1: Read and Respond to Literature in Translation—the first step to becoming a translator. Assigned reading and in-class discussion on why translation matters.
WEEK 2: There Are Many Ways to Translate the Same Thing. Get started with translation exercises and look at canonical works that have been translated many times.
WEEK 3: Choose a Writer You’d Like to Translate. Read about the politics of translation: Who gets translated, and who gets left out?
WEEK 4: Just Go for It: Translate the text you’ve chosen. Workshop #1.
WEEK 5: Revise and Try It Again. Edit your first translation piece and tackle a different text to translate. Workshop #2. Further reading on how other translators have done the job.
WEEK 6: How to Pitch and Publish Your Translations
*no class on November 12
Elisa Wouk Almino is a writer, editor, and literary translator from Portuguese. In 2017, Scrambler Books published her translations of poetry by Ana Martins Marques in the book This House, which she also illustrated. Formerly the book reviews editor of Words Without Borders, she is currently an editor of harlequin creature’s new online translation platform and a senior editor at Hyperallergic. You can find her writing and translations in Asymptote Journal, Guernica, the Paris Review Daily, n+1, Ugly Duckling Presse’s 6x6 Journal, and other places.
"Faucet, fruit bowl, lantern, and clothesline undergo a reexamination in this colorful selection of poems from Brazilian author Ana Martins Marques’s three previous books. Brightened by intermittent illustrations, these poems invite readers into their own world. THIS HOUSE is a book driven by translation, personal in English and Portuguese alike and ready to take on new hues with each reading."
"THIS HOUSE is a remarkable selection of work by Ana Martins Marques, tracking the day and the night, the light and the dark, in ways I feel a profound sympathy with. The excellent translations by Elisa Wouk Almino are a further offering to us, wonderful renditions."
"Elisa Wouk Almino was my first editor when I started freelancing at Hyperallergic three years ago, and I immediately enjoyed working with her. She approaches each piece with criticality and candor, and having her edit a piece is always an approachable lesson in strengthening and streamlining my writing. She also treats editing as a collaborative process, seeking real input from her writers, which in my experience is quite rare. It's something many editors don't seem to have the time or desire to do, and Elisa does it with care."
"Elisa has been my editor for the past three years at Hyperallergic. Thanks to her guidance, my writing has remarkably improved. She excels at explaining the nuances of techniques in an approachable yet intelligible way, and because of her guidance I can now happily report that I am a staff writer there."
"I truly cannot say enough about Elisa as an editor. I am a freelance writer and work with many different editors at many different publications, and always feel that Elisa brings an exceptionally sharp mind and thoughtful perspective to my work. I trust her absolutely, and find that she has the dual ability to edit for content and tone, as well as grammar and the ever-needed typo-check! I am tremendously grateful to her for always strengthening my writing, and communicating about our shared work in a prompt, professional, conscientious, and positive way. She will be an asset to ANY organization. "