National Translation Month is an annual celebration of translation throughout the month of September. NTM was founded in 2013 by poet, author, educator, and journalist, Loren Kleinman, and by Romanian-born poet and translator, Claudia Serea. In this special feature, The Arkansas International speaks with the editors of NTM about the origins and importance of their work, and how others can get involved.
What drives National Translation Month, and the idea of choosing one month out of the year to highlight the art of translation?
The main goal of National Translation Month (NTM) is to encourage readers worldwide to read, share, and discover translation throughout the month of September. Inspired by the successful celebrations of Black History Month (February) and Women’s History Month (March), we set out to bring awareness of the craft of literary translation and the work of translators and authors around the globe. To that end, NTM promotes works in translation from a variety of emerging, established, and never-before-translated into English international authors. We featured classics such as Pablo Neruda, Osip Mandelshtam, Carmen Boullosa, or Karl Ove Knausgaard, alongside new hot names such as Nadia Anjuman, Xu Xiaobin, or Daniel Saldaña París, among many more. With the translators’ efforts, barriers in literary communication can be overcome to foster artistic unity across linguistic boundaries and expose international authors to a wider readership across the United States and beyond.
September 30 is celebrated worldwide as International Translation Day with the feast of Saint Jerome, the beloved patron saint of librarians and libraries, schoolchildren, students, Bible scholars, and translators, which is why we chose to celebrate NTM during this festive month!
What do you look for in translations you accept for publication?
Each year, we make a sustained effort to attract, publish, and promote less-known authors and translators working in languages less translated into English. It’s one of our goals to publish less-known texts and bring fresh voices to our audience. So far, NTM has published works from 30 countries, among them Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Faroe Islands, Nicaragua, Martinique, Greenland, Singapore, and many more.
We also look for excellence in the literary translations we publish. Our organization has featured work from acclaimed professionals such as award-winning translator Nicky Harman, scholar Diana Arterian, famed translator Cola Franzen, award-winning poet and translator Martín Espada, award-winning scholar and translator Sean Cotter, Hugo Award winner Ken Liu, or NPR’s Andrei Codrescu. With more than 6,000 supporters (based on our social following and newsletter subscribers), our efforts to bring awareness to authors of translated works have exceeded our highest expectations. The attention paid to our innovative translators has proven that there is an enthusiastic community of readers eager to participate in our campaigns.
We've just come to a close on this year's National Translation Month; what's a work you've received this year that you're particularly excited about?
This September we’re really excited about all of the translations we published, but here a few few outstanding features: Excerpt from the Award-winning Novel Vis & I by Farideh Razi, translated from the Persian by Niloufar Talebi; Two Poems by S. Vijayalakshmi, translated From the Tamil by Thila Varghese; Singapore literature in translation curated by William Phuan and Dan Feng Tan from the Select Centre; new translations from the Hausa language: “Kitchen Song” by Laura M. Kaminski (Halima Ayuba) translated by Sada Malumfashi and “Republic of Poets” by Sada Malumfashi translated by the poet; and
National Translation Month has been around just under five years now; has there been any discernible shift in the kinds of translated works you've received since then, and do you foresee any particular trends or shifts arising within the next five years?
Each year is better and richer in voices than the one before. We’ve seen an increase in submissions of exquisite translated works from all over the world; work from troubled spots like Syria, Afghanistan, and Iran; numerous translations done by women and of women authors; and a tremendous interest on social media from readers from India, China, and Singapore. These are the trends arising, and we hope to add to them works in translation from more countries in Africa and Asia.
What would you like to see more of in the submissions to National Translation Month, and what would you like to see less?
We’d love to see more excerpts of plays in translation, short film scripts, comics, children’s books, erotic poetry and fiction, YA and NA excerpts, flash fiction, old texts, more works from countries in Africa and Asia, more work translated and written by women, and more texts from indigenous people from everywhere in the world.
Poetry is always the most submitted, but we want to introduce our readers to writing in translation across all genres. Our tastes are eclectic and we’re interested in everything, from ancient texts to contemporary—if it’s translated and good, we want to see it.
What are your plans and hopes for the future of National Translation Month?
Right now we are looking to secure funding so that we can do the following: 1) Offer emerging translators scholarship funds; 2) Develop our website with more educational offerings that are aligned with our features such as guided discussion questions; and 3) grow the number of readings and events across the globe.
With our supporters and growing partnerships, we believe that NTM will become a worldwide celebration of international literature. We intend to use potential funding to help international authors, publishers, and publications find new readership in the United States and beyond.
We also seek to develop our reading series on a global scale. Last year we partnered with At the Inkwell, a New York City-based reading series and supporter of published writers through features, book reviews, and readings. Through this partnership, we increased the exposure of translation by organizing an international NTM reading series with events in 17 locations such as Denver, London, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Richmond, and many more. Our readings caught the attention of Jack Hirschman, San Francisco Poet Laureate, who featured at our San Francisco reading, and NPR’s Andrei Codrescu who featured at the KGB Bar in New York.
We believe we can expand the reading series and continue to grow our audience, offering more visibility to foreign authors, increasing the prevalence of translated works in literary education and bringing more fresh voices to readers worldwide.
What does the rest of the year outside of September look like for National Translation Month and its staff? Are there any other projects you would like to let readers know about?
We will reopen submissions by November as well as solicit writing from translators and writers. The submission process is rolling, and we read year round.
Submissions usually close around April, and then wen edit and schedule out posts as well as line up interviews for The Huffington Post translator interview series.
If you want to share a translation with us or think of a way to celebrate National Translation Month in 2018, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always open to reading new work and any collaboration ideas!
CLAUDIA SEREA is a Romanian-born poet who immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. Her poems and translations have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies from the U.S., U.K., and Australia, such as New Letters, 5 a.m., Meridian, Word Riot, The Red Wheelbarrow, Going Down Swinging, The Lake, Polluto, Cutthroat, Apple Valley Review, Green Mountains Review, International Poetry Review, Ascent, Connotation Press, protestpoems.org, Mudfish, The Dirty Goat, Harpur Palate, The Fourth River, The Istanbul Review, Barnwood, Contrary Magazine, Poets & Artists, The Comstock Review, The Houston Literary Review,and many others.
A four-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and for Best of the Net, Serea is the author of three full-length poetry collections: Angels & Beasts (Phoenicia Publishing, Canada, 2012), A Dirt Road Hangs From the Sky (8th House Publishing, Canada, 2013), and To Part Is to Die a Little (Cervená Barva Press, forthcoming). She also published the chapbooks The System (Cold Hub Press, New Zealand, 2012), With the Strike of a Match (White Knuckles Press, 2011), and Eternity’s Orthography (Finishing Line Press, 2007).
Together with Paul Doru Mugur and Adam J. Sorkin, Serea co-edited and co-translated TheVanishing Point That Whistles, an Anthology of Contemporary Romanian Poetry (Talisman House Publishing, 2011). She also translated from the Romanian Adina Dabija’s Beautybeast (North Shore Press, Alaska, 2012).
Claudia Serea belongs to the poetry group The Red Wheelbarrow Poets and is one of the curators of the Williams Poetry Readings at the Williams Center in Rutherford, New Jersey. She lives in New Jersey and works in New York.
LOREN KLEINMAN is an American-born poet and writer with roots in New Jersey. Her writing explores the results of love and loss, and how both themes affect an individual’s internal and external voice. She has a B.A. in English Literature from Drew University and an M.A. in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Sussex (UK).
Her poetry has appeared in The New York Times, Drunken Boat, Domestic Cherry, Blue Lake Review, LEVURE LITTÉRAIRE, Columbia Journal, Nimrod, Wilderness House Literary Review, Narrative Northeast, Writer’s Bloc, Journal of New Jersey Poets, Paterson Literary Review (PLR), Resurgence (UK), HerCircleEzine and Aesthetica Annual. She was the recipient of the Spire Press Poetry Prize (2003), was a 2000 and 2003 Pushcart Prize nominee, and was a 2004 Nimrod/Pablo Neruda Prize finalist for poetry.
In 2003, Spire Press (NYC) published her first collection of poetry Flamenco Sketches, which explored the relationship between love and jazz. Kleinman judged the literary entries for the book Alt-History: New Writing from Brighton published by QueenSpark Books (UK). She was also a contributing editor/writer for the Cancer Dancer by Patricia San Pedro. Kleinman is also a columnist forIndieReader.com(IR) where she interviews NYT bestselling indie authors. Many of those interviews in IR reappeared in USA Today and The Huffington Post.
Her second collection of poetry, The Dark Cave Between My Ribs was released in March 2014 (Winter Goose Publishing), and was an Amazon Top 100 bestseller in Women’s Poetry and chosen as one of the best poetry books of the first half of 2014 by Entropy Magazine. The Dark Cave was also nominated for the 2015 Pushcart Prize. She is the author of Indie Authors Naked (IndieReader Publishing, 2014), which was an Amazon Top 100 bestseller in Journalism in the UK and USA. She’s also the author of Breakable Things, Stay with Me Awhile, and The Woman with a Million Hearts (BlazeVOX).