Friday, October 20, 2006


The Academy of American Poets has given awards to two poets and translators with connections to our journal.

John DuVal is the director of the MFA Program in Translation at the University of Arkansas, our homebase. John is a mentor and good friend to all of us at Passport. He received the Raiziss/de Palchi Translation Award for his translation of Carlo Alberto Salustri's Tales of Trilussa, which he translated from the Romanesco.

Richard Zenith was awarded the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award for Education by Stone, a selection of poems by the Brazilian poet Jo
ão Cabral de Melo Neto. Zenith's translation of the Portuguese short story "South," by José Luis Pe
ixoto, appeared in our Winter 2005 issue.

The awards ceremony will take place on November 8 in New York at the New School's Theresa Lang Center.

Congratulations, y'all!

The Editors

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Check out Issue 5!

We are happy to announce that Issue 5: Summer 2006 of the University of Arkansas' online journal PASSPORT: The Arkansas Review of Literary Translation is now available. Please visit our website to read poetry and fiction translated from Chinese, Spanish, and Bulgarian. Also check out an essay by Zdvavka Evtimova on translating her own writing and an interview with poet and translator Thom Satterlee.

Have a great summer!

The Editors

Friday, November 04, 2005

Really Useful News Portal

The Inttranews website is a clearinghouse for information related to translation and translators. Run by a team affiliated with a French translation agency, Inttranews offers a broader range of news items than similar services. Pretty impressive.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

First Man Booker International Translator's Prize Awarded

This just in: David Bellos, Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Princeton, has won a new award given by the British Booker Prize Foundation. The Translator's Prize is part of the Man Booker International Prize, also awarded for the first time this year.

Under the foundations's rules, the winner of the International Prize selects the winning translator; Albanian novelist, poet, and playwright Ismail Kadaré chose Bellos, who has completed translations of five of Kadaré's novels and is working on two others.

In May, the foundation announced the creation of the Translator's Prize in recognition of the role of the translator, "the unsung hero of international literature," as the Man Group's chairman Harvey McGrath put it. Ah, music to my ears.

Both prizes are awarded every other year. The original author receives £60,000, the translator
£15,000. The awards ceremony for Kadaré and Bellos will take place on June 27 in Edinburgh.



Passport Summer 2005 Issue

Our new issue is up and ready for perusal!

The poetry section features translations from modern Greek, ancient Chinese, Romanesco, and Spanish. In the fiction section, we have Spanish and Danish short stories. Miller Williams, poet, translator, and our professor in many translation courses and workshops at the University of Arkansas, writes about the translation process.

We'll be accepting submissions for the next issue until October 15.


Friday, March 25, 2005

Translation Workshop in Chicago

The Goethe-Institut Chicago, a branch of the German federal agency promoting German culture world-wide, is very active in furthering literary translation and working with translators in the U.S. Since 1996, the Institut has been awarding the annual Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize for literary translations from German to English (past recipients include Breon Mitchell, Anthea Bell, and Joel Agee).

They also offer one-day translation workshops for experienced and beginning translators on a regular basis. The next one, on May 10, is dedicated to the literature of Thomas Mann (on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his death). It will be conducted by John E. Woods and Michael Heim, two of the most prominent translators of German literature.

I wish I could go! Alas, I'm giving two finals that day. Considering how many American translators work in an academic environment, perhaps the organizers could hold one of the next workshops on a weekend day or another date that's more accommodating to teachers and students?


Thursday, March 24, 2005

(Sort of) New Journal

This journal is actually a little older than our own Passport, but I only heard about it a few weeks ago. Absinthe: New European Writing is a multi-genre print journal published twice a year. Three issues are available so far. Absinthe tries to focus on younger and established authors whose work isn't well known in the U.S. I am intrigued by the special section they're planning for a future issue: poetry from Luxemburg. Less than half a million people, three official languages--there's got to be some great stuff there.


New Biography

Out from the University of Wisconsin Press: Jonathan Cohen's A Pan-American Life: Selected Poetry and Prose of Muna Lee. Lee (1895-1965) was a poet, translator, feminist, wife of the first elected governor of Puerto Rico, and worked for the U.S. State Department as a specialist for Latin American cultural affairs. Cohen is a poet, essayist, and translator of Latin American poetry.


New Books, New Press

It's unusual for an American publisher to focus on books in translation. There are all kinds of concerns: too risky, there's not much money to be made, readers, critics, and bookstores don't care, etc. Russell Valentino is doing it anyway. The new press is called Autumn Hill Books, and their first release is a novel by Bosnian writer Igor Stiks, translated by Valentino and Tomislav Kuzmanovic. A Castle in Romania will be followed by Vassilis Alexakis' Foreign Words (translated from French by Alyson Waters) and The Silence of the Sufi by Sabit Madaliev (translated from Russian by Russell Valentino). Being based in Iowa City, Autumn Hill Books has links to the University of Iowa.


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Passport Winter 2005 Issue

The second issue of Passport is up! The online journal offers literary translations of poems by Israel Emiot and Théophile Gautier, fiction by José Luis Peixoto, and non-fiction by Kemal Kurt.

We're also proud to feature poet, translator, professor, and general inspiration Mohja Kahf with translations of three poems by Nizar Kabbani as well as two of her own poems on the subject of translation.

Passport publishes new, underrepresented, international authors in English translation. We try to maintain a balance of work by experienced and new translators. In addition to showcasing the work of translators, the journal also serves as a forum for the discussion of the art of literary translation.

We are currently reading for No. 3 and are accepting submissions for No. 4 until October 15.

The Editors

Monday, January 10, 2005

PEN Translation Fund

The Translation Committee of the PEN American Center assists literary translators and promotes literary translation in the U.S. That's a difficult job, seeing how few books from other languages are translated into American English every year (apparently, the situation isn't much better in the U.K.). About a year and a half ago, PEN was able to establish the Translation Fund, using an anonymous donation of $730,000. As the website explains, the fund's "purpose is to promote the publication of translated world literature in English." The projects can be from any language; they can be fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and drama; and they may be re-translations. Individual awards range from $2,000 to $7,000. That may be enough to quit a a job (or take a leave of absence) in order to focus on a book.

Last May, the first ten grants were awarded to translators working from ten different languages. Only three of the translators had a publishing contract for their project. Everyone else was working on spec, as is so common in the U.S. (and basically unheard of in my native Germany). The deadline for the secound round of awards is January 15--probably too late to submit an application now, but something to keep in mind for next year.


Sunday, January 09, 2005

"A Language Only You and Eight Other People Understand ..."

Ok, this doesn't really concern literary translation, but it's exciting to see that a UN interpreter is the focus of Sydney Pollack's new movie, a political thriller called, well, The Interpreter. And she's played by Nicole Kidman. In the trailer Kidman wears sensible (but sexy) black and white clothes, glasses, and no make-up. She has her straight blond hair pulled back in a ponytail, lives alone, and spends her nights sitting at home playing the recorder. An accurate thumbnail of most translators and interpreters. Right.

Translating lacks glamor (not that all translators do ...), but hey, now we've got Nicole Kidman as our pop culture matron saint. The movie opens April 22. Sean Penn and Catherine Keener are also in it.


Friday, December 24, 2004

Linguist George L. Campbell Dies

He knew more than 60 languages, 44 of which he spoke fluently. I remember seeing a b/w picture of him once; he was surrounded by what looked like dusty stacks of books and papers, the chaotic tools of his trade. Campbell lived to be 92. I'm in awe of what he did with his life.


Friday, December 17, 2004

Publishing Works from Cuba, Iran, and Sudan Now OK

On December 15, the Treasury Department released a statement in response to the lawsuit filed by several organizations. It clarifies that publishers, editors, and translators working with manuscripts from Cuba, Iran, and Sudan do not have to seek permission to do so as long as they're engaged in standard publishing activities. The full text of the press release is available here. Good news.


Monday, November 15, 2004

OFAC Censorship Update

This morning, members of the American Literary Translators Association received a message from ALTA president David Ball with more information on the Office of Foreign Assets Control's policy with regard to the publication of written works from countries under the trade embargo. Since intellectual property is exempt from the embargo, the OFAC restrictions (including the threat of prison time and fines) are actually unconstitutional. This year alone, the publication of eight translations has been cancelled or postponed due to the risks involved.

Ball writes:
"In the face of such persistence in blind repression, PEN, the Association of American Publishers Professional and Scholarly Publishing division, the Association of American University Presses and Arcade Publishing are asking the Federal court to strike down OFAC regulations that require publishers and authors to seek a license from the government to perform the routine activities necessary to publish literature from embargoed countries.
There are things all of us can do to help this suit. Judges do not render their decisions in a vacuum, nor are they immune to public opinion. The more public outcry there is about this affair the better. I urge you to write your representatives in Congress, in the Senate, and your local newspaper: tell them how important this is for you and for all of us."
It's times like these when the free circulation of information and ideas is crucial, especially with suppressed and critical voices needing to be heard. It shouldn't matter where those voices come from. Authors, translators, publishers, and editors shouldn't have to fear repression. Write a letter.


Sunday, November 14, 2004

Translate Book, Go to Jail?

Some people think that the work of a translator is all about finding the right words and tone, but pretty much removed from everyday concerns. Not so. Here's a current example of how translation and translators are directly affected by politics and power issues: Translators, editors, or publishers in the U.S. who decide to publish certain works from certain countries on the trade embargo list may be fined and sent to jail. The absurdity of these regulations is mindboggling. They reflect an appalling authoritarianism.

Since late September, two lawsuits have been filed to challenge them, one by
Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, the other by a number of publishing-related organizations. Read up on this messy issue on the PEN American Center's website. From the press release:

"The organizations are asking the court to strike down OFAC regulations that require publishers, writers, and translators to seek a license from the government to perform the routine
services necessary to publish foreign literature in the United States.
Representatives of the plaintiffs' organizations expressed frustration over a series of OFAC rulings that have created an atmosphere of uncertainty and confusion among publishers fearful of incurring prison sentences of up to 10 years or fines of up to $1,000,000."

Have your book purchases and library visits monitored under the Patriot Act, get fined if you decide to publish a Cuban, Iranian, or Sudanese author under the OFAC embargo--if this curtailing of access to information happened in another country, wouldn't it be called censorship?


Saturday, November 13, 2004


We have created this blog to extend the capabilities of our journal, Passport: The Arkansas Review of Literary Translation. We want to offer a more dynamic forum to discuss topics related to literary translation. Please join the discussion, respond to our journal, or bring up any literary translation issues by leaving your comments here or by e-mailing us at


The Editors
Annaliese Hoehling, Sabine Schmidt, and Nadine Sinno