Wed 19 July 2017

Not long now – translation project with Carmien Michels

Carmien Michels wrote the citybook Not Long Now about Munster. For the English translation, Carmien crossed the channel to where students of Dutch at British universities got to work translating her citybook. The students worked under the guidance of translator Jonathan Reeder as part of the UK Collaborative Translation Project 2017.

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Translation Project

In February and March 2017, Carmien spent three weeks as guest author at the University of Sheffield, University of Nottingham and University College London. Alongside workshops at the various locations, an important part of her visit was to take part in the UK Collaborative Translation Project 2017.

Coordinator Henriëtte Louwerse (University of Sheffield) shares the recipe with us: ‘take one guest author, one professional translator, three university lecturers, thirty-five students of Dutch at three British universities and you have the line-up for the annual Translation Project.’

Students at the three universities knuckled down together to translate Carmien’s citybook Niet lang meer into English, and literary translator Jonathan Reeder made sure the process stayed on the right track. During her stay, the Carmien struck up an extensive dialogue with the students, and the visit was rounded off by a symposium on the topic of translation.

carmien michels sheffield

For most participants, the translation project was their first taste of literary translating. And it was often different to what they had expected. As Elizabeth Walmsley told:

“The project offered me the opportunity to explore the text at a much more in-depth level than any other of my translation experiences. I’ve found literary translation to be far more interesting, immersive and more of a creative task than I had expected.”

Ellen Long noticed the way in which analytical and creative thinking have to articulate: “The most important thing I learned over the process of this project is that literary translation really is an art.”

 

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About the Translation Project

This isn’t the first time that a citybook has been translated by British students. Henriëtte Louwerse (University of Sheffield) is the driving force behind these translation projects. In previous years, citybooks by Rebekka de Wit (Until the Difference is Between Galaxies), Bouke Billiet (Palm Leaves and Promises), Wim Brands (The Brass Band that Ate an Elephant), and Abdelkader Benali (Warrior on a Horse ) have all been translated as part of the project, and these writers have all visited the participating UK universities as guest authors.

The translation project was part of the Taalunie’s guest author programme. Carmien Michels’ visit and the translation symposium were made possible in part by the Vlaams Fonds voor de Letteren, deBuren, and the Flanders House, representatives of the Flemish government in the United Kingdom.

 

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