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PEN World Voices Festival As It Happened: Translation Slam

By Bruna Dantas Lobato


Michael F. Moore, Abdellah Taïa, Emma Ramadan, and Chris Clarke. Photo: Alex Zucker.

At the Nuyorican Poets Cafe on Friday, April 29, Michael F. Moore hosted the Translation Slam for the PEN World Voices Festival. A festival favorite for nine years running, this year’s event featured WWB contributors Margaret B. Carson and Ezra E. Fitz translating Mexican poet Luis Felipe Fabre, and Chris Clarke and Emma Ramadan translating Moroccan novelist Abdellah Taïa.


Luis Felipe Fabre, Margaret B. Carson, Ezra E. Fitz, and Lorea Canales. Photo: Alex Zucker.

Each translator presented their rendering of the piece, and, naturally, they differed a bit from one another. The difference between the two—the juxtaposing of two narratives, two competing versions of the same account—highlighted each translator’s reading of the original text. These gaps show us that words don’t mean one thing absolutely, and that the slippage of language provides room for creation.


Read more dispatches from the PEN World Voices Festival: Expats and Literary Quest: Westbeth Edition


Further Reading:

Michael F. Moore’s “Sweating and Swearing in ‘Clash of Civilizations’” in WWB’s November 2008 issue: Immigration

Margaret B. Carson’s translation of Mercede's Roffés “Situation: To Cast Off A Malady” in WWB’s March 2010 issue: Correspondences in the Air: International Poetry

Ezra E. Fitz’s translation of Eduardo Halfons “The Polish Boxer” in WWB’s July 2009 issue: Memory And Lies

Luis Felipe Fabre’s “Sor Juana and Other Monsters” in WWB’s March 2015 feature: Mexico Interrupted

Chris Clarke’s “From the Translator: On A Red Lighter in the Heart of M.” on WWBs March 2016 Dispatches Blog

Emma Ramdan’s “Crossing Bounderies: Ten Moroccan Writers,” the introduction to WWB’s March 2016 issue: Crossing Boundaries: Morocco’s Many Voices

Abdellah Taïa’s “The Algerian and the Moroccan” in WWB’s June 2011 issue: The Queer Issue II


Published May 5, 2016   Copyright 2016 Bruna Dantas Lobato

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