FY 2013 Grant Awards: Literature Fellowships for Translation Projects
Some details of the projects listed below are subject to change, contingent upon prior Endowment approval.
Each fellowship is for $12,500
To support the translation from French of Song of the Dead, a volume of poetry by Pierre Reverdy. An exploration of the aftermath of World War II, this collection was first published in 1948 as a handwritten, limited edition with 125 color lithographs by Pablo Picasso. Despite Reverdy's influence on American poetry, only four of the 43 poems from Song of the Dead have been translated into English, all in books that are currently out-of-print.
Dan Bellm is a professor, translator, and poet. In addition to translating the work of Pablo Neruda, Manlio Argueta, and César Vallejo, he has been translating Reverdy for almost a decade. In 1998, Bellm received the Caesura Prize, judged by Mark Doty, for his poem, "Aspens," and an Artists Fellowship for Literature from the California Arts Council.
To support the translation of experimental plays by German playwright Dea Loher. The writer and producer of 20 plays, Loher's subject matter ranges from small-town life to international events as she explores themes of race, love, violence, and family. Though Loher is one of Germany's most celebrated playwrights with plays translated into 27 languages, her work is virtually unknown in the United States.
Daniel Brunet is a theater maker and translator. The recipient of a 2001 Fulbright Scholarship to Berlin for theater directing and 2003 Director in Residence at English Theatre Berlin and founder of its Lab, Brunet has translated more than a dozen contemporary German plays into English and received a 2010 Pen Translation Fund Grant for Dea Loher's play The Last Fire. He lives in Brooklyn and Berlin.
To support the translation from Spanish of Tedi López Mills' eighth book of poems, Against the Current. This collection of 28 linked poems, each one a single sentence, won Mexico’s José Fuentes Mares National Prize for Literature upon its publication in 2006. López Mills experiments with syntax and form in Against the Current, conveying the contrasts that pervade contemporary urban life in Mexico through the recurring symbol of a river.
Wendy Burk is a poet and translator who earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Arizona. Her translations have been published in many literary journals, including The Drunken Boat, Literal: Latin American Voices, and In Translation: The Brooklyn Rail. Burk's poetry has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize.
To support the translation of the novel, The Bleeding Wound, by Cuban writer Mirta Yáñez. Published in 2010 and winner of Spain's Premio de la Crítica, this story charts the history of Havana from the 1959 socialist revolution to the present. The author of more than 25 works of prose, poetry, and nonfiction, Yáñez offers a humorous yet poignant perspective on the complicated realities of Cuba's past and its future, thereby transcending local and national borders in a tale that literary critic Uva de Aragón asserts "portrays the existential angst of any human being."
Sara E. Cooper earned her PhD in Spanish at the University of Texas at Austin and currently teaches language courses at California State University, Chico. She is the founder of Cubanabooks Press, an independent press dedicated to publishing work by Cuban women. Cooper met Yáñez in San Francisco in 1998 and has visited her in Cuba on several occasions.
To support the translation of Argentinean writer Lila Zemborain's collection of poems, Torn. Presented as diary entries, Torn was composed in response to the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 and published in 2006. Its style pays homage to both the New York School of poetics as well as the Argentinean mode known as "poetry of the elements." Zemborain is the author of five other poetry collections and received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007.
Daniel Coudriet is a poet and a translator. His work has appeared in numerous literary journals, including Diode, Route 9, Mid-American Review, American Poetry Review, and Verse. Coudriet earned his MFA in poetry at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and he spends several months each year in Argentina gathering material for his translation projects.
To support the translation of Worm-Eaten Time, a collection of poems by Czech writer Pavel Šrut. Written during the period of normalization in Czechoslovakia (1969-87) and officially published in 2000, Šrut's poems capture both the ethos of this dark moment in Czech history as well as the poet's personal struggle to retain his dignity and artistic freedom under extreme censorship. Winner of the Czech Republic's highest literary honor, the Seifert Prize, Šrut's work has not yet reached an American audience.
Deborah Garfinkle is a poet, essayist, and translator living in San Francisco. Her poems and criticism have appeared in literary and scholarly journals in the U.S. and abroad. Garfinkle is the translator of The Old Man’s Verses by Czech poet Ivan Diviš, which was nominated for a Northern California Book Award in 2009. She teaches English literature at the College of San Mateo.
To support the translation of Austrian writer Ilse Aichinger's collection of short fiction, Bad Words. In these 22 prose pieces, normative reality is taken apart and reconstructed to create a language that uses only the "second best words," as the title proclaims. Linguistically experimental and thematically absurd, Aichinger's body of work has garnered more than 20 literary prizes and is vastly underrepresented in English. This translation will be the first to focus on her work from the 1960s.
To support the translation of a volume of poems by Giorgio Orelli, a Swiss poet writing in Italian and Italian dialects. This project comprises a collection of 60 to 80 poems drawn from Orelli's entire body of work, in addition to a comprehensive essay on his life that is accompanied by the translator's personal photographs of the 90-year-old poet. Born in 1921 and living on the border between Switzerland and Italy, Orelli is the only poet from Italy's "Linea Lombarda" not to have an English volume dedicated to his work.
Lynne Lawner is a prolific translator of modern and contemporary Italian poetry. In addition to translating work by Luciano Erba, Georgio Orelli, Nelo Risi, Alfredo Giuliani, and Aganoor Pompilj, she was the first translator to bring Umberto Saba and Pier Paolo Pasolini's poetry into English. Lawner lived in Rome from 1958 to 1983 and has published two volumes of poetry of her own.
To support the translation from Swedish of Elisabeth Rynell's novel, Hohaj. Published in 1997 and widely regarded as Rynell's breakthrough work, Hohaj has earned numerous literary accolades in Sweden and abroad. Written following the sudden death of her husband, the novel maps two distinct worlds of grief, which steadily intertwine as the story progresses and the characters explore their loneliness and despair. Literary critic Magnus Eriksson describes the work as "not simply a display of technical mastery, but a lyrically charged antiphon of love, sorrow, and loss."
Rika Lesser is a professor, translator, and poet. She has devoted more than 35 years to the translation of poetry and is the author of four poetry collections. Lesser has taught writing and literary translation at the Atlantic Center for the Arts and Columbia University School of the Arts and was the 2011 Thornton Writer-in-Residence at Lynchburg College in Virginia.
Sylvia Lichun Lin
To support the translation from Chinese of The Lost Garden, a novel by Taiwanese author Li Ang. Exploring the interconnected themes of politics and gender, the novel chronicles a Taiwanese gentry family from the early days of the Nationalist government's rule under Chiang Kai-shek to the present. Published in 1990, only three years after the lifting of martial law, The Lost Garden was the first novel to successfully portray a fictional account of the White Terror Era. Ang is considered one of the most prolific, daring, and innovative writers in the contemporary Chinese-language literary community.
Sylvia Lichun Lin earned her PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, and is currently a professor at the University of Notre Dame, where she teaches courses on Chinese literature, film, and language. Lin recently served as co-editor with Howard Goldblatt of a bilingual anthology of contemporary Chinese poetry, Push Open the Window, an anthology supported by the National Endowment for the Arts through its International Literary Exchanges.
To support the translation from Japanese of Sata Ineko's semi-autobiographical novel, Crimson. Published in 1938 and set in 1930s wartime Japan, the work draws a vivid psychological portrait of a woman struggling to balance her family obligations with her personal desires; this portrayal of a "new Japanese woman" is significant for both its feminist politics and its modernist sensibilities. Ineko is the recipient of many literary accolades, including the 1984 Asahi Prize for Lifetime Achievement.
Samuel Perry is a scholar of Japanese and Korean literature. Through a Fulbright Research Grant, he spent several months in Sapporo, Japan, writing and researching his dissertation. Perry is the recipient of the 2010 William F. Sibley Memorial Translation Prize in Japanese Literature, and he teaches at Brown University.
John G. Peters
To support the translation from Japanese of Journey, a collection of poetry by Takamura Kôtarô. Influenced by Western art and literature of the 20th century, Takamura became the first Japanese poet to effectively break with traditional poetic convention by employing free verse and colloquial language. These 107 poems, published in 1914, chronicle the poet's journey from a life of dissatisfaction and decadence to a new beginning with faith in nature. Only 20 poems from this book have been translated into English.
John G. Peters has studied the Japanese language and culture for more than 30 years. His translations have appeared in numerous journals and magazines, including the Utne Reader, New Orleans Review, and Hawaii Pacific Review. He is a professor of English at the University of North Texas.
To support a new translation from Urdu of Paigham Afaqui's first novel, The House. Since its publication in 1989, Afaqui's account of a young female landlord, Neera, and her predatory tenant, Kumar, has been a staple on reading lists in schools and universities across India. Literature in Urdu is particularly patriarchal, and Neera's story draws a sharp contrast to that tradition and to the stereotypical roles placed on women in Indian society. In addition to writing and founding the Indian Academy of fiction, Afaqui is deputy commissioner of the Delhi Police.
Matthew Reeck's Urdu translations include the short stories of Saadat Hasan Manto and the satires of Patras Bukhari. He has spent significant time traveling throughout India and lived in Delhi for nine months as a Fulbright Scholar in 2002. Reeck was a finalist for the Bill Gates Fellowship to study Hindi and Urdu at Cambridge University.
To support the translation from Spanish of three works of contemporary fiction by Daniel Sada. Born in Mexico in 1953, Sada died in the fall of 2011 only hours after being awarded Mexico’s most prestigious literary honor, the National Prize for Arts and Sciences for Literature. His writing is infused with a passion for experimental storytelling, but the most pervasive theme in his work is language itself, specifically the viability and limitations of the Spanish language in contemporary Mexican culture.
Katherine Silver is an award-winning translator of more than 20 novels and screenplays. Her honors include a Colombian Ministry of Culture’s Translation Award, a PEN Translation Fund Grant, and two previous Translation Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Silver has spent time in Mexico and maintains a strong relationship with Daniel Sada's widow, who was also his literary collaborator.
To support the translation from Spanish of short fiction by contemporary Salvadoran author Claudia Hernández. These four short story collections, published from 2001-07, explore the brutal impact of El Salvador's 12-year civil war and focus indirectly on the themes of displacement, desensitization, and fear. Garnering international praise, Hernández was the first Central American artist to win the Juan Rulfo Prize for short stories. In 2004, she was awarded the prestigious Anna Seghers prize, an annual award given to young authors in Germany and Latin America.
Johanna Warren graduated from Bard College with a double major in studio arts and Spanish in 2011. Her senior thesis comprised a "double translation" of Claudia Hernández's On Boundaries - one from Spanish to English and another from text to visual art. Warren's other translations include the novels A Bit of Everything by Juan Valera and I'm a Box by Natalia Carrero.
To support the translation of an anthology of short fiction by young Vietnamese writers, New Voices from Vietnam. All 19 authors included in this project are under the age of 35, and their work represents a culture and aesthetic that differs radically from previous generations of Vietnamese writers, reflecting stories from a vibrant culture racing through changes wrought by rapid modernization and globalization. There is a lack of contemporary Vietnamese prose represented in English, and this project offers an unprecedented collection.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency