PERSISTENCE AND SERENDIPITYSOMETIMES GO HAND IN HAND

Association business, literary translation & business pointers are all covered at the September GM. BY NORMA KAMINSKY

Margarita Millar and Anne Appel on literary translation

Margarita Millar and Anne Appel on literary translation

The Fall NCTA General Meeting was held on September 12 at The Center. First on the agenda was the approval of an amendment to the NCTA By-laws, Article 11, covering Voting and Elections. The text in bold was added to the existing article: “Each member in good standing shall be entitled to one vote cast either at General Meetings of the Association, cast electronically or sent by surface mail in the pre-addressed envelope attached to the Notice of the Annual General Meeting. The Board shall decide which of these methods shall be used for voting. Proxies shall not be recognized in any voting.”
This change means that members will now be able to cast their votes electronically in NCTA elections. Fewer resources will be used and our voting system will be more environmentally friendly.
The proposed amendment was approved by a vote of 22 to 0 with 0 abstentions.
After the vote, we had interesting and varied feature presentations. In the first part, two translators shared some of their experience and insights into literary translation.

BELIEVE AND PERSIST
Margarita Millar talked about her experience publishing her first translated book, María Mercedes Carranza’s Canto de las moscas (Song of the Flies), consisting of 24 poems about the violence in Colombia. The original Canto de las moscas was published in 1997, when violence in that country was at its peak. Margarita started translating the poems into English as part of a university project on the theme of images of violence in Colombian literature. She wanted people in the United States to learn what was happening in that nation.
Margarita attended the NCTA poetry translation workshop with Sidney Wade in 2008; there she shared some of the poems she had translated and received both positive feedback and constructive criticism. She was encouraged to continue working and to polish her translations. With the help of two other translators, she contacted a publisher who agreed to publish the bilingual book, but who offered no payment.
Margarita described all the aspects of the project: copyright issues, publishing details, design, permissions, and contracts, in addition to the linguistic and literary aspects of translating the poems.
Margarita’s advice is to believe in the worth of the material, to persist, and to persuade.

SERENDIPITY AND MACHIAVELLI
Our second literary translation expert was Anne Milano Appel, who has several trans- lated novels from Italian. Anne insisted that there is no magic formula, and she discussed three key concepts that represent approaches that have worked for her: Serendipity, Machiavelli, and Networking.
Serendipity is an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident; it also means good fortune, or luck. Serendipity worked for Anne when she landed her first contract with a publisher. She had submit- ted a proposal, but was offered another project instead. As a fortunate result, we have Stefano Bortolussi’s Head above Water. Serendipity: You just never know what you might find!
Machiavelli is associated with placing political expediency above morality; the term “Machiavellian” has the negative con- notation of political manipulation. But Anne points out that while Fortuna may be a creator of opportunity, it is up to the individual to seize the occasion—or even create it. This approach was instrumental when Anne accepted a project for which the selected translator was no longer available. Thus, we now have The Mosaic Crimes.
Finally, networking, networking, net- working, networking! Anne emphasized the importance of contacts and of cultivating relationships with writers’ agents, editors’ assistants, etc. For example, she first approached the editor of a publishing house as a colleague, and developed a relationship; later she submitted proposals— albeit they were never accepted. However, the editor eventually asked her to translate a book, and Anne’s translation of Why Italians Love to Talk about Food was scheduled for publication in October.
Margarita and Anne agreed that literary translation is primarily an act of love, rather than a way to make huge profits. NK

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