September is National Translation Month!
National Translation Month (NTM) is a fantastic celebration of literary translations throughout the month of September.
The aim is to encourage readers worldwide to celebrate literary works in translation from a variety of international authors, both past, and present, through an eclectic selection of online showcases, live readings and events across the U.S., London and other cities.
One of the most innovative ways in which foreign language-lovers are currently sparking curiosity across wider poetry audiences is with the "translation duel". Have you ever witnessed a "translation duel"? What happens is that two or more translators work independently on translating the same poem, but without any communication or conferral on technique. Once finished, the translators then duel out their ideas on stage before a live crowd, using words as swords to defend their differing approaches. You could describe this novel event as the literary equivalent of a roast battle, though, thankfully, without the insults. The recently developed format has proven very popular so far, staged by the likes of Ledbury Poetry Festival two years running with focus on French and Ukrainian poetry.
This year at Ledbury, the format innovatively extended to include British Sign Language – a language with complex three-dimensional syntax, and no written form. Personally, I find this fascinating. After completing my degree in French and Russian at University of Cambridge, I’ve been working, amongst many other things, as a translator, though rarely are we thrust into the spotlight to justify our technique. I'm currently translating the poems of a forgotten French surrealist to take part in one such translation duel, organised in association with Modern Poetry in Translation and Newcastle University, and I'm very much looking forward.
Our event will take place on the 4th October at the Newcastle Centre for Literary Arts with Jennie Feldman, hosted by Olivia McCannon. Come and join in the conversation about what makes a poem work in English – no knowledge of French is required!