MET’s Sea of Words Project

What is the Sea of Words?

The Sea of Words (SoW) is a creative writing contest that asks young people (18 to 30) from over 40 Mediterranean and European Union countries to write a short story. While each year’s theme is different, there is always an underlying reference to intercultural relations.

Who is involved in the Sea of Words and what happens?

National finalists are selected through the Anna Lindh Foundation (ALF) national networks, which then provide translations into English for the international competition. This is judged by a panel chosen by the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), coordinator of the Spanish ALF network. The award ceremony honouring the finalists is held in Barcelona, and the prize includes publication of the stories.

What is MET’s Sea of Words Project?

MET’s participation in SoW, our Sea of Words Project, serves to encourage and promote these young writers by providing them with the best possible English form for their stories. To that end, MET has devised a series of editing workshops and working groups to take on this meticulous, collaborative and hugely rewarding task.

The number of stories the SoW Project can polish depends on the number of MET members who sign up for this unique challenge. A workshop is designed to organize and initiate the voluntary editors and form small working groups. Up to two more workshops provide some theory on topics our experience suggests will become relevant as editing proceeds. The working groups edit at a convenient pace toward a finished product – ready for publication – in time for the next SoW award ceremony.

How does the Sea of Words Project work?

Although the working groups are formed during the initial workshop (Session 1), there is no obligation to sign on. The first workshop is a practical exercise that uses excerpts from SoW stories to demonstrate how a translated literary text can be improved, and how it can be done in a group setting.

Those who decide to join a working group will be given a story to edit under the guidance of a group coordinator – who acts as collator, in publishing parlance. Issues addressed include effective author querying, text ownership, and the differences between translation, translation editing, and translation revision. We emphasize that groups work at their own paces.

Why get involved?

The exercise is designed to teach the value of editing as a final stage in publishing any text. We’ve explored and promote ways to work with authors responsibly and ethically through the SoW project and want to share them with other MET members. Because literary translation is not the usual focus of most sector-specific translators and editors, it serves as neutral ground for all of us. Yet it highlights the benefits of a careful, studied revision of any text. In working alongside other translators and editors, we discover our own language tics, we get out of ruts, and shrug off clichés.

Last and not least, it turns out to be fun to get together and create something beautiful. Check out the workshop description, perhaps read a story or two, and then get in touch with Kymm Coveney. She’s got some great stories to share.