METM12 Panel     Thread: Promising practices

Editing and translating literature for the Sea of Words International Short Story Contest

Moderator: Mary Ellen Kerans

Panelists: Kelly Dickeson, Susan M. DiGiacomo, Aisha Prigann, Stephen Waller

This panel discussion -” with audience participation -” will reflect on aspects of language that affect readers' perceptions and what we, as translators and as editors of other translators' work, need to do to make the readers' experience feel right. Our reflections are informed by two years of a MET organized in 2011 and 2012 to provide publication-ready versions of four of the prize-winning stories from the Anna Lindh Foundation's short story contest. The authors submitting manuscripts for this contest are young Mediterranean writers engaging with critical issues in their societies.

MET's project consisted of editing the English translations of the winning stories or, in one case, providing a retranslation of a story. Our collaborative task was to give balanced attention to both the quality of the final text and the process that helped us produce it, in dialog with the initial translators and the authors. For MET this was an opportunity to run an experiment in continuous professional development in a flexible, relaxed, peer-directed learning environment. In that setting, we looked at how editors take responsibility for form while respecting an author or translator's stake in content and text. We also discussed the nature of literary translation itself, and when we found ourselves developing homegrown theories on the -œheightening- or -œflattening- of aspects of a text, we invited the thoughts of a theoretician and a senior literary translator.

The panelists' roles: contributes an impartial nonparticipant's view, after interviews with the translated authors about their experiences of being translated and edited for publication -” exploring their expectations, what surprised them, questions of voice and text ownership, and how the experience has affected them as writers and shaped their expectations about working with translators in the future.



Kelly Dickeson translates freelance in a range of fields and has recently been focusing on medicine. She joined the Sea of Words project in 2011 out of pure curiosity and has now been enthusiastically involved for two years.

Susan M. DiGiacomo is professor of anthropology at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV, Catalonia) and adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (USA). She began translating more than 20 years ago, and the English-language publication support service she now operates in her department (URV) includes the critical review of manuscripts.

Mary Ellen Kerans translates (medicine, history) and teaches, but she most enjoys teaching through editing for and with authors. Her interest in the Sea of Words project came from a hunch that working with literary texts would be an amenable way to learn and discover common ground for MET members from different fields, all with an interest in literature but no stake in any theory or approach.

Aisha Prigann specializes in translations for the arts and culture sector and writes a commercial blog as well as her own works of fiction. A strong interest in literature and literary translation led her to join the Sea of Words project in 2011. In 2012 she took on the task of collating editorial input for one of the stories.

Stephen Waller freelances in Barcelona, dealing mainly with financial texts. Despite a strong preference for translation over editing in his regular work, Stephen was attracted to the Sea of Words editing project as an opportunity to work with other language specialists on the -œgood writing- aspect of every translator's job.