3 March 09 | Chad W. Post

This started a while ago, but Rose Mary Salum of Entre los espacios has been interviewing a number of translation journals/magazines about issues of readership, editing, etc., with pretty interesting results.

Each question is a separate post, so here are links to the four already online, along with a quote from one of the responses. (Just for the record, editors from CALQUE, Absinthe, Words Without Borders, Tameme, One Edit, No Man’s Land, and CipherJournal are being interviewed.)

Question #1 is about the perceived lack of interest in international literature among English readers.

Brandon Holmquest from CALQUE: I’m not sure if I agree with the idea that readers are disinclined to read things from other countries. There are a hell of a lot of people in this country who are not readers, and a great many who read things like genre fiction. It does the publisher of serious literature, translated or not, no good to consider these people as readers. A record label that puts out hip-hop records cares about hip-hop fans, people who hate music and rock fans can take of themselves.

Question #2: What would seem to be the essential editorial challenge when working with translations?

Tim Adkins from One Edit: Make it interesting.

Question #3: Is expression in one language completely transmittable into another language?

Dwayne Hayes from Absinthe: I’m not sure the thoughts in our own heads are completely transmittable in our own language! That said, translation stands on its own as a literary work and is definitely capable of transmitting the heart of the text.

Question #4: Should the question be more about how much of a culture we try to transmit and how much we intervene, when working with our journals?

Samantha Schnee from Words Without Borders: The mission statement of WWB sums this up nicely: Words Without Borders opens doors to international exchange through translation, publication, and promotion of the world’s best writing. WWB publishes selected prose and poetry on the web and in print anthologies (the next one to focus on the Islamic world), stages special events that connect foreign writers to the general public and media, develops materials for high school teachers to use foreign literature in classrooms, and continues to build an unparalleled online resource center for contemporary global writing.

Not sure if there are more questions to come, but what’s available so far provides an interesting look into these diverse translation journals—all of which are worth checking out in their own right.


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