Monday, 4 November 2013

Another Idea for Emerging Translators

I was talking to someone yesterday about how to get a foot in the door of literary translation. It's not an easy thing to do and requires a lot of patience and persistence. One of the things that has hugely benefited me is our "translation lab" in Berlin. I've written about it before but just to recap: a group of people interested in literary translation from German to English meet up once a month, in our case in a room above a pub, to help each other with our translations. Anyone can come along and bring a page or so of their work (10-12 copies of the original and the translation) for us to go through in the group. Or just come along and join in the conversation. We sit around a big table and eat and drink and indulge in super-nerdy translation talk. Recently, we've also started looking at published translations for purely admirational purposes. I love this part of the evening, maybe fifteen or twenty minutes, when someone brings a translation that knocks their socks off and we all say wow. It's an easy way to remind ourselves not to be 100% critical and negative about each others' work, and a great way to learn new tricks.

I've found that talking to other translators about my work is always very very good for the quality of my translations. And that's one of the hard things about emerging - getting practice and experience and getting good at translating. So I'd strongly recommend setting up a similar arrangement wherever you are. It costs nothing except a bit of time, and the rewards are huge. If you want to start your own lab, you could try contacting the cultural institute of the country whose language you translate from. The Goethe Institut, for instance, should be happy to help you, perhaps by providing a room or by sending out an email to people who might be interested.

I'm very pleased that there's now an English-to-German translation lab in Berlin, the Übersetzerstudio, which meets every third Tuesday of the month. There's also a Dublin Literary Translation Lab, which meets on the first Wednesday of the month, 5pm to 7pm, in the Goethe-Institut - and plans are underway for a Glasgow group as of next year.

The no man's land Translation Lab in Berlin meets up on the first Tuesday of the month at Max & Moritz, 8 pm.


SELTA chair said...

Absolutely agree that translation workshops are hugely beneficial - and not only for translators who are just starting out. Experienced translators can have a chance to reassess their own practices and try out more experimental approaches than they might dare when working on paid jobs. Swedish-English lit translators in the UK have been meeting for annual workshops (monthly would be a bit of a stretch for us). Check out the reports from our first and most recent workshops!

kjd said...

What an excellent example, thanks!