Monday, 22 March 2010

Things I Did Last Week (Part 1)

Last week was a tad busy. I had the privilege of taking part in a huge meet-up of 60 translators out of German at Berlin's Literary Colloquium. And that meant input morning to night. We had writers talking to us and reading for us: Katja Lange-Müller, David Wagner, Dirk Kurbjuweit, Abbas Khider, Maria Cecilia Barbetta, Marion Poschmann, Monika Rinck, Lutz Seiler, Sibylle Lewitscharoff. Plus evening readings by Wilhelm Genazino and Arno Geiger and an international poetry slam. We had critics and experts filling us in on recent developments: Burkhard Müller, Stephan Speicher and Christian Hansen. There were people there to tell us about funding and grants and travel programmes and foreign rights - notably the incredibly impressive Petra Hardt from Suhrkamp Verlag, who really reconciled me with the place after my previous unpleasant encounter. And a certain blogger held a rather nervous presentation about German literature on the internet - not quite the fifth estate over here.

What was most impressive, though, was meeting all the fellow translators from around the world. What do translators from Iran and Brazil have in common? A hell of a lot, actually, despite all the differences in their working conditions. It's always marvellous to talk to other translators with a passion for literature, and the event was hugely fruitful. This time there was a good sprinkling of translators into English from Britain and the States - and how wonderful it was to exchange tips and passions and gossip and feel the mutual support that doesn't - I think - go without saying in other professions.

I think we all came out of it exhausted but inspired, and I for one have a lot of new plans up my sleeve - especially for a new collaborative blog in German, specifically on translation. If you happen to translate into or out of German, I urge you to apply for a place on one of the LCB's various workshops. The wonderful and dedicated people there will make it worth your while.

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