All Articles by Date

July, 2015

WWB Is Hiring: Development and Communications Associate

Full-time New York, NY Are you passionate about international literature and looking to learn all about the nonprofit literary field? Are you an excellent writer and exceptionally organized? Then you may be the next Development and Communications Associate for Words without Borders, the online magazine for international literature. Reporting to the Executive Director and working closely with the editorial team, the Associate will support the organization’s fundraising activities,...

August, 2015

Story

In the fading night sky there are points of light, countless in number, vast in distance—who knows their size, their age? Yet, at one time, people drew imaginary lines between those stars and imagined them as beings a scorpion, crab, goat, fish, twins, the Virgin . . . And attached names: Aldebaran, Cassiopeia, Danu, Hamal, Orion, Southern Cross, the Plow . . . The silent twinkling lights may have enthralled them, but not enough. Eyes need shapes, ears crave names, the brain arranges...

The Crow

No one and nothing in this world can protect you from the revenge of a crow. Not even if you hide in your mother’s womb. You will die a day before your birthday. Like the nut of a kenari tree, you will fall and crack on a rock. Caaaaaaaaw! Just before the hundredth jump, Ihsan Gagak “The Crow” Riman began to see stars. His knee joints were aching and inflamed. His head was heavy. His body was leaning at a 31-degree angle. Everything before his eyes turned a reddish-black. All...

writing you

how to write you when the letters are reluctant to sound out voices i knew voices i memorized rush back into loneliness only stillness now even that soon moves away far to the edge of desolation suspicious of any poetry even to exchange a hello moreover words when spelled out can turn into a row of pain instantly in every space

The Moon and the Magician in the Red Jacket

“Abel saw vultures in the back garden as he was climbing out of the window of the house he had just robbed . . .”  A driving rain was pouring down outside, hammering the roof of the house and seeping through part of the outside wall. Every summer Husin would reinforce the cement so the seepage would not cause too much damage, but every rainy season he could only watch as the rain roundly mocked him. Completely defeated, he would stare blankly at the water droplets slowly...

A Tale of Redemption

The man turned. Coffee and cocoa leaves were piled up, all stuck together. Branches were rubbing against each other roughly in the wind. Samsu pushed the low door open, its hinges silent. He paused briefly. The quiet of the outside was shattered by the noise from the television on the wall. Almost everyone in the café was talking, commenting on the discussion taking place on the television. If it were not for this being the between-season after the dry, when the weather was so...

At the Borders of Homeland and Exile: Tibetan Literature

I was around twelve, far too old to not realize what I was seeing. One night during our usual evening study session at my Tibetan boarding school in Dharamsala, the capital of exile Tibet in India, was cancelled. Instead, the school monitors herded us into the main hall. A white sheet hung as a screen onstage and we watched the images projected onto it. A Tibetan man wearing army fatigues gets off a bus. With his crew cut and military physique, he is clearly a soldier of the Tibetan unit of...

Wink

It seemed that even the birds nestling atop the rafters of Tenpa’s house were tiring of the rain. They sat perched in a line along a wooden beam and watched the rain drizzling down. Cocking their heads this way and that, the birds crooned softly. A steady drip of water fell gently and steadily from the eaves of the house, the sound carrying throughout the courtyard. Tenpa entered the gate carrying Darmar in the folds of his chupa. The birds resting atop the gate fled into the courtyard...

All for Hindia

Translator’s Note: The character Baart Rommeltje alludes to Pieter Brooshooft (1845–1921), a journalist and editor in chief of Dutch East Indies newspaper De Locomotief.  The last two pages of the story refer to the 20 September 1906 Puputan. Puputan—“ending” or “finish”—was a Balinese ritualistic fight to the death, carried out by Bali’s kings and their families and  staffs, choosing .   to die rather than to be taken...

The Dream of a Wandering Minstrel

1. Tsering the Wandering Minstrel traveled the road in search of a dream. 2. One night during the spring when Tsering turned fourteen years old, he had a dream. A girl appeared in the landscape of his dream. Tsering already knew his alphabet by then and at times even wrote simple lyrics. Here is the entry in his diary detailing his dream: “Yesterday, a girl appeared in my dreams. I have never seen her before. I still see her image clearly in my mind. She was around the same age as me....

Naja Marie Aidt’s “Rock, Paper, Scissors”

With many readers praising Naja Marie Aidt’s short story collection Baboon (Two Lines Press; translated by Denise Newman), it was not a huge surprise to see the efforts of writer and translator alike rewarded with the PEN Translation Prize earlier this year. Those who enjoyed Aidt’s slices of the darker side of life will be happy to see her vision extended over a broader canvas in her first novel, Rock, Paper, Scissors (Open Letter; translated by K.E. Semmel). This book is...

When

1 When the ever so polite earthquake Rocked our village I heard the singing and dancing In the village square Suddenly fall silent. Insects and other animals The grass, plants, and trees And even the words that were being spoken Sentences filled with anger that billowed like smoke Suddenly fell mute. All was still 2 Our small and stuffy room with its cracked wall A lantern flickering from lack of oil The bed with its creaky springs and withered pillows Where all was fatigue and exhaustion,...

The Agate and the Singer

The singer’s name was Yangchen Pema and before she died, there were many stories told about her. People said she had an abortion at some hospital, that the child’s father was some big shot county chief who bought her an apartment to make up for it, and that his family’s tantric master, a black magician, had blown puffs of air into her mouth that sweetened and strengthened her voice, not to mention that while stealing another singer’s lover, she had also stolen the...

Gendhis

I am Gendhis, the hooker who spat in Pak Lurah’s face last night. Who says I’m afraid of Pak Lurah? I was never afraid of him, not before he went on the haj pilgrimage and not after he came back. I’m not afraid of position or rank because I don’t see any of that. I also don’t see Pak Lurah’s face. Two months ago, Pak Lurah, the village head, said that after he came back from the haj pilgrimage he wouldn’t touch me again. Upon returning from the Holy...

Yoss’s “A Planet for Rent”

The true power of science fiction lies in its capacity to convey the reality of human existence, and the threats we face from internal and external sources, while using language, images, and concepts that transcend common experience. This could not be truer of A Planet for Rent by Cuban science fiction legend José Miguel Sánchez, better known as Yoss. Author of many books and essays in Spanish, this inaugural English translation is thanks to David Frye, and part of publisher...

July, 2015

Anne Garréta’s “Sphinx”

As Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover was in the process of breaking the Internet, the Associated Press found itself taken to task by the Twitter bot @she_not_he. Programmed to automatically correct tweets that referred to Jenner as “he,” the bot politely reproached tweeters for not using the transgender woman’s preferred pronoun. Caitlin Dewey, one of the creators of @she_not_he and the Washington Post’s digital culture critic, explained that she did so to...

From the Translator: On Translating Burundian Poetry

I met poet Abdoul Mtoka during the summer of 2013, in Bujumbura, when Burundian writer and literary organizer Ketty Nivyabandi gave me his phone number. We corresponded by text message, which enabled me to appear much more fluent in French than I actually am, and led to a somewhat awkward meeting over coffee at a café in downtown Bujumbura, a hodgepodge of English and French that cemented our relationship in translation. Soon thereafter, Mtoka sent me a selection of his...

The City and the Writer: In Singapore with Mohamed Latiff Mohamed

Special Series/ Singapore 2015 If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains.                      —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities Can you describe the mood of Singapore as you feel or see it? Singapore is a small city-state, and is known as one of the most developed...

The Week in Translation

SUBMIT what: Gulf Coast Magazine's Prize in Translation (this year's contest is open to prose, both fiction and non-fiction). submission deadline: August 31, 2015 more info: http://ow.ly/OkevW

From the Translator: How to Translate a Circle

The difficulty of translating a circle is not the geometry. In an analog age, I might have written my English version on a turntable. Indeed, Simone Kornappel’s mystifying poem “as a mouse” most resembles a vinyl record: a discus that flaunts its Platonic form before exposing its outlandish sound. The poem even skips midway. And, like a 45-rpm single, it closes with a gaping hole after the final chord. As my eyes revolved around the exuberant lyrics, I traced a chain of...

2015 National Translation Award Long List at Words without Borders (Poetry)

Breathturn into Timestead (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2014), Paul Celan and Pierre Joris (translator) - Romania Paul Celan in the WWB archive: "Last Night," (October 2005: Jaguar Tongues) "Poem for Marianne’s Shadow" (March 2005 issue: Spring Break: Travels With Literary Masters) Nothing More to Lose (New York Review Books, 2014), Najwan Darwish and Kareem James Abu-Zeid (translator) - Palestine Najwan Darwish in the WWB archive: "Life in Mount Carmel" (May 2015 issue:...

Words without Borders Contributors: We Want Your Latest News

Over the last twelve years, Words without Borders has published over two thousand pieces of prose from 104 languages and 127 countries. We're proud of our contributors and the important work they've contributed to our magazine and beyond, which is why we want to know what you, our past contributors, are up to now. Do you have a new book or other publication? A prize or a new post? Send your news on to [email protected] and we'll feature it here on...

The City and the Writer: In Singapore with Anne Lee Tzu Pheng

Special Series/ Singapore 2015 If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains.                    —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities Can you describe the mood of Singapore as you feel or see it? For several years now, I have felt a growing sense of...

The Week in Translation

SUBMIT what: Gulf Coast Magazine's Prize in Translation (this year's contest is open to prose, both fiction and non-fiction). submission deadline: August 31, 2015 more info: http://ow.ly/OkevW what: Transom magazine is currently open for unsolicited submissions of translations. submission deadline: accepted yearround more info: http://ow.ly/OUdRi

2015 National Translation Award Long List at Words without Borders

For the last seventeen years, the American Literary Translators Association has given out the annual National Translation Award, the only national award for translated fiction, poetry, and literary nonfiction that includes a rigorous examination of the source text and its relation to the finished English work. For the last twelve years, Words without Borders has been presenting innovative and undiscovered voices in translation to English-language readers. So it's...

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