Author Archives: smilkova

Claiming the Canon: Magda Portal’s “Hope and the Sea,” translated from Spanish by Kathleen Weaver

The appearance of this collection is a statement of intervention into the canon of Latin American poetry. Its contextual materials, which include Weaver’s description of meeting Magda Portal in Berkeley in 1981, attest to a long lineage of intentional stewardship of women’s poetics inspired by Portal’s own fierce advocacy, beginning with the book’s initial publication in 1927.

Haiti in Translation: Nathan Dize Interviews Emma Donovan Page

When Jan J. Dominique published her memoir Wandering Memory in French in 2008, eight years had gone by since her father’s assassination. On April 3, 2000, Jean Léopold Dominique was gunned down in front of the radio station he owned and operated since the 1960s. The New York Times reported on Dominique’s death, a state funeral was held, and Haitians living in the country and abroad went into a period of collective mourning.

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT: MERYEM ALAOUI’S “STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH,” TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH BY EMMA RAMADAN

Alaoui’s novel, as hilarious as it is political, is a testament to the fact that literature does not have to be depressing or solemn to deliver a powerful message. Like Ramadan, I hope more publishers will invest in translating playful books that appeal to diverse readerships while defying stereotypes and expanding perspectives.

A Poet’s Legacy: René Noyau’s “Earth on Fire,” Translated from French by Gérard Noyau and Peter Pegnall

“Earth on Fire” is a compelling gateway into Noyau’s work and into Mauritian literature.

The Net and the Fence: On Jean Daive’s “Under the Dome: Walks with Paul Celan,” Translated from French by Rosmarie Waldrop

By Anna Levett Several times in Under the Dome, Jean Daive’s elliptical, poetic memoir about his friendship with the Jewish German-language poet Paul Celan, a net bag makes an appearance. I imagine it’s the kind of bag in which you would carry fruits or vegetables that you’d bought from a market—a bag made of mesh […]

The Safeguards of Translation: Philippe Jaccottet’s “Patches of Sunlight, or of Shadow: Safeguarded Notes, 1952-2005,” Translated from French by John Taylor

By Samuel Martin Holding the latest volume of notes by the Swiss poet and translator Philippe Jaccottet, turning it over in one’s hands, one’s first impression is indeed of volume and bold color; it is another of the lavish editions that Seagull Books have made their calling card in recent years. One’s second impression, having […]

A Manifesto for Uncertain Times: Noémi Lefebvre’s “Poetics of Work,” Translated by Sophie Lewis

By Andria Spring “Are we at war, Papa?” “What makes you think that?” “I don’t know, all these soldiers outside the shops.” “Then it must be war.” “But people are shopping in the sales.” “So we can’t be at war.” “The police are checking handbags and ID cards.” “That means it’s war.” “But there are […]

Women in Translation Month: Violence Against Women Is Not an Afterthought

Trigger warning for rape, sexual violence, femicide, and gender-based violence. Although it has been more than two years since its publication, I am regularly given a reason to revisit “A Stench That Won’t Subside,” an article on sexual violence by Kosovo-Canadian lawyer Hana Marku. Marku wrote this piece in February 2019, as Kosovo and Albanian […]

Often Petty, Definitely Bourgeois: Caterina Bonvicini’s “The Year of Our Love,” Translated from Italian by Antony Shugaar

By Alex Valente Caterina Bonvicini’s The Year of Our Love, translated by Antony Shugaar, is the story of Olivia and Valerio, who meet and grow up together in the same house while belonging to different families and class, who lose each other and find each other again several times, and who maintain a bizarre romantic […]

Bulgarian Women Who Run With the Wolves: An Interview with Nataliya Deleva and Izidora Angel

Nataliya Deleva’s Four Minutes is a profound, heart-breaking meditation on the notions of home and homelessness, with their myriad manifestations and implications in our contemporary world. An orphanage in post-communist Bulgaria provides the physical and psychological coordinates of the narrator’s existence and of the book’s loose narrative frame. Called simply and anonymously “the Home,” this […]

Women in Translation Month: Writing Won’t Save Us, but It May Help Us Survive

By Barbara Halla Is it intertextuality? Or is it perhaps that, both consciously and subconsciously, the books I pick tend to broach similar themes? Russian poetess Maria Stepanova would say that I am trying to find patterns where there are none—because like all other human beings, I take comfort in meaning, even if I have […]

Translation as Care: On Fabienne Kanor’s “Humus,” Translated from French by Lynn E. Palermo

With her novel, Kanor converts loss and absence that mark the experience of slavery into recovery and presence.

Mary Magdalene and the Revolutionary Power of Women’s History: Adriana Valerio’s “Mary Magdalene: Women, the Church and the Great Deception,” translated from Italian by Wendy Wheatley

Engaging in dialogue with an Italian feminist tradition that seeks to retrieve the voices and experiences of our female ancestors, Valerio is unwavering in her commitment to unearthing a “female genealogy” which will liberate women from the male-authored tradition that has misrepresented us for millennia.

Revisiting a Retro Radical: Anna Kuliscioff’s “The Monopoly of Man,” Translated from Italian by Lorenzo Chiesa

In 1890, Anna Kuliscioff stood before a packed house at the Philological Circle in Milan and delivered a searing speech on the “woman question.” 131 years later, Lorenzo Chiesa brings us Kuliscioff’s speech from that day, “The Monopoly of Man,” for the first time in English translation.

“There’s No Place Left on Earth That’s Peaceful”: Zülfü Livaneli’s “Disquiet,” translated from Turkish by Brendan Freely

Livaneli is a household name in Turkey and an outstanding figure in the cultural and political life of his native country. A writer, poet, composer, producer, film director, and political activist, Livaneli was named a Goodwill Ambassador by UNESCO in 1996 for his contributions to world peace through music and literature.