Andrew Barrett, a graduate student in the University of Rochester's Master of Arts in Literary Translation program, is the only student from the United States selected to attend the Banff International Literary Translation Centre's annual summer translation program.
The Banff International Literary Translation Centre (BILTC) is the only international residency program for literary translators in North America. The primary focus of the program is to provide literary translators with a period of uninterrupted work on a current project, within an international community of translators. Each year, BILTC accepts one student from each of its signatory countries—Canada, Mexico, and the United States—as well as 15 translators, up to nine writers, and at least three consulting translators. Since the inaugural program in 2003, Banff only accepts 10 translators each summer, which includes three students. BILTC has hosted translators from more than 21 countries working in more than 30 language combinations.
"We had many high-level student applications this year, and his application, especially the sample of the translation he is working on, was truly extraordinary," said Katherine Silver, co-director of BILTC. During the program, Barrett, who translates from ancient Greek, will complete his translation of portions of the Dionysiaca, a 48-book epic poem written in the 5th century by Nonnus. "The first time I picked up the Dionysiaca, the virtues of the poem jumped out at me. It's vivid, wild, playfully self-aware and an absolute treasure-trove of Greek mythology," said Barrett.
Professor, translator, and renowned poet Anne Carson, whose work frequently draws from Greek mythology, will be this summer's special guest writer, and prize-winning translator Peter Constantine, who also works with ancient Greek, will be a consulting translator in residence.
Barrett began Rochester's Master of Arts in Literary Translation program, or MALTS, after earning his bachelor's and master's degrees in classics from Wayne State University, in Detroit, Mich., where he also taught Greek mythology. A member of the first MALTS class, Barrett said he was attracted to the translation program's treatment of translation "as a fine literary art." As part of the program, Barrett has interned at Open Letter Books, Rochester's literary publishing house, which publishes a dozen international authors' works each year. "Working at Open Letter is a direct line into the publishing world," said Barrett, who added, "The act of translation and the light it sheds on the tangled intersections of culture, language, and thought, can provide very potent opportunities to genuinely appreciate the complexity of different societies, even those societies that no longer exist."
"This is a very impressive achievement for Andrew and we are proud to have a student from our program's inaugural class chosen for this international honor," said Chad Post, co-advisor for MALTS and director of Open Letter Books.
The MALTS program includes classes in literary translation, literary theory, and international literatures, as well as a book-length translation project. Students in both MALTS and the University's undergraduate and graduate-level certificate programs have the opportunity to work with Open Letter Books, Rochester's publishing house for literature in translation, and Three Percent, an online resource for international literature. For more information about translation at Rochester, visit http://www.rochester.edu/translation.