DELT’s Annual General Meeting and BogForum 2023 Recap
by Miranda M. Nicholas-Zaar
For DELT members, the beginning of November was a busy time.
Kick-off was DELT’s sixth Annual General Meeting at Kulturhuset in Copenhagen. Twenty Danish-English literary translators from around the world got together – both online and in-person – to catch up and share plans regarding the world of Danish literature. The discussions spanned from recent and current DELT activities, such as the Danish Translators Aloud Week or the Early Career Translators group, to upcoming projects and actions.
Members who attended in person had the chance to have new, smart headshots taken for the soon-to-be revamped DELT website. While most of us like to hide behind a book or computer screen, our photographer, Camila França, did an excellent job making you feel at ease in front of the camera.
The AGM concluded with a pleasant dinner, allowing DELToids to continue their discussions and connect with old and new colleagues.
Next up was BogForum 2023. For three full days, you could immerse yourself entirely in Danish literature. DELT organised coordinated coffee meet-ups on each day of the fair. These were a great start to the day if you wanted to see familiar faces and – for those new to the game – get some valuable advice from old hands.
BogForum’s programme was packed with great talks, discussions and events across all stages. Some of my personal highlights included the presentation of BogForums Debutantpris to Amina Elmi for her poetry collection Barbar, the interview with lovely Ane Riel about her latest book Små Stød and a wildly entertaining discussion between Knud Romer and Jesper Wung-Sung about the power of stories. Browsing the stands of different publishers was an excellent opportunity to explore the current book market and get inspiration for new projects. My favourites were the micro publishers that offered exciting new titles and the chance to meet some of their authors.
It’s been a busy week at DELT’s social media HQ, where we’ve been sharing readings by our members from the Translators Aloud YouTube channel. Here we have Martin Aitken, perhaps best known for his translations of Knausgaard, reading from his unpublished translation of Kirsten Thorup’s Recollection of Love. Get in touch if you want to know more!
A cohort of DELT translators and English language publishing professionals met at the Danish Embassy in London on 20th April 2023 for pastries, networking, and a panel discussion on publishing – specifically, publishing translations. The event was arranged to coincide with London Book Fair.
We were welcomed by Lone Britt Christensen, the Cultural Attaché at Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and enjoyed an informal coffee, fika and introduction round, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Martin Aitken.
Book*hug (previously, BookThug) began as a poetry press in 2004 and fell almost accidentally into publishing translated literature, when a festival in Toronto, encouraged Canadian publishers to apply for sample grants from the Danish Arts Foundation in order to be able to present various Danish authors to Canadian readers. This led to Book*hug’s first Danish-in-translation title, Pencil of Rays and Spiked Mace by Niels Lyngsø (tr. Gregory Pardlo). Since then, they have published Danish authors such as Niels Frank, Karen Fastrup and Olga Ravn.
Héloïse Press is a relatively new, one-woman press that publishes approximately four fiction titles a year. Aina focusses on female narratives in translation as well as ones originally written in English. So far, the press has mostly published Western European writers, but is interested in branching out to Eastern Europe and further afield. Héloïse’s titles include PEN Translates winner, The Memory of the Air by Caroline Lamarche (tr. Katherine Gregor) and What Concerns Us by Laura Vogt (tr. DELT member Caroline Waight).
Fitzcarraldo Editions has shot to literary fame within a mere nine years since their inception, largely due to their uncanny ability to publish Nobel prize-winning authors. Their fiction and non-fiction titles are easily recognisable by their iconic blue and white covers, and they publish roughly half original English language works and half literature in translation. Authors include Annie Ernaux, Jon Fosse and Agustín Fernández Mallo.
Norvik Press was established in 1986 as part of UEA. They are now based at UCL, and publish a wide range of fiction, poetry and literary criticism – all in some way related to the Nordic countries, now branching out into the wider Baltic region. They are a non-profit organisation and therefore rely on funding and crowdfunding. Norvik Press has published many prominent Nordic authors such as Herman Bang, Vigdis Hjorth and Klaus Rifbjerg.
Our discussion covered everything from the differences between the Danish and English editing process, to the evolving social media book review landscape. Here in summary:
How a book reaches its reading public
Depending on the book, this is a combination of traditional publicist activities such as sending out proof copies for reviews and author talks, to “BookTok”, to more innovative methods such as collaborating with other artists in order to stage theatre reenactments, visual representations etc. There is a general consensus that smaller presses tend to be more creative with their publicity, and this is perhaps especially the case when it comes to translated literature, which the mainstream British media is still largely resistant to.
A younger audience for translation literature
In terms of publicity, there has been a power shift from reviewers working for mainstream media, who used to be literature’s gatekeepers – able to make or break a book – to incredibly influential, young people on social media, able to make books go viral. A more democratic conversation around books has emerged. These younger readers’ world is global, they’re connected to the internet, and that perhaps explains why they are less adverse to translations than reviewers and readers of previous generations.
Translating with author involvement
Translating to one of the world’s most spoken languages often involves authors, especially when translating from a language such as Danish, where most authors have a very high level of English. We discuss the pros and cons of being able to work closely with authors: close collaboration vs. the author perhaps not even reading the English result.
A brief discussion about the difference between editing translations as opposed to editing original English language texts. We also talk about the more involved process of editing in the English publishing industry, and the shorter process in Denmark, and what kind of literature that tends to result in. Again, pros and cons.
Generally, English language publishers want to buy World English Rights. If based in the UK, they may then go on to sell the North American rights to a US publisher, who might then go on to license the Canadian rights to a publisher in Canada. Sometimes, two or more English language publishers from different territories will buy the rights together, splitting the cost, as well as the cost of translation. The sale of Danish rights is usually – but not always – facilitated by agents.
All four publishers – particularly the more recently established ones – rely heavily on translators to tip them off about authors and books in languages they don’t understand. Many have translators they already work with and trust, many also work with foreign agents.
Generally, a good pitch from a translator should include a sample that can’t be turned down! The pitch, synopsis, comparable titles, reviews, prizes, etc. is a nice-to-have and gives good context to the sample, but the publishers’ decision generally rests on the quality and relevance of the sample. The experience of the translator may also be a factor. Other considerations – like funding and promotion possibilities, tend to come later. It is, however, good to make things as easy as possible for the publisher, eg. by ensuring before pitching that the English rights are available.
And a final tip: Always research the publisher you’re pitching to, that makes the best impression, even if the specific book you’re pitching isn’t quite right for them, it’s good for them to know that you understand what they’re into!
A huge thank you to The Danish Arts Foundation for making this event possible through its ‘Literary Events and Projects’ fund, the Danish Embassy for hosting us, and, of course, our panellists, moderator and translators for participating.
Contemporary Scandinavian children’s and Young Adult literature is full of stories that combine a playful joy of storytelling with important socio-cultural themes. But how does this translate? This three-part event on Monday 26th September 2022 explores the ins and outs of working with Scandinavian children’s and YA literature in translation, bringing authors, publishers, translators and industry insiders together discuss their work, and how they go about bringing these books to an English readership.
PART I: A talk and workshop led by Guy Puzey, delving into the nitty-gritty of translating for children and young adults. How do kids actually speak? How does this transfer across cultures and national borders? What can we as translators do to capture the depth and variety of children’s spoken language?
PART II: A panel of industry insiders will discuss their various roles in bringing Scandinavian children’s literature to the English language: how do these books travel, what are the cultural issues involved, and how can we continue to promote Scandinavian children’s voices abroad? Panelists in Part II include Julia Marshall, Tine Nielsen, and BJ Woodstein. Guy Puzey will chair.
Part III: Author Panel – everyone welcome! Join us for this online conversation with three of Scandinavia’s most exciting authors of children’s and young-adult literature.
Kim Fupz Aakeson (Denmark), Aina Basso (Norway) and Kristina Sigunsdotter (Sweden) will discuss their work, from inception to finished book, and the art of capturing children’s voices and imaginations. Translator and DELT Chair, Paul Russell Garrett will moderate. FREE – sign-up is required, please go to bit.ly/scandikids3
ORGANIZERS & SPONSORS This event is being organized jointly by DELT alongside the Swedish-English Literary Translators’ Association (SELTA, swedishenglish.org) and the Swedish Book Review (swedishbookreview.org).
A special thank you to the Danish Arts Foundation and the Swedish Arts Council for their generous support, which has made this event possible!
As DELT looks ahead to marking five years since being formally established, this summer presented the perfect opportunity for a discussion on DELT’s strategy and objectives for the next five.
On 2-3 August, DELT’s management committee met for two days of strategy meetings followed by a members’ meeting and social. Throughout the pandemic, the committee has been meeting monthly online to manage DELT, but because of the ongoing pandemic, this was the first in-person get-together for this committee which formed at the AGM in 2020.
Committee members Paul Russell Garrett (Chair), Sinéad Quirke Køngerskov (Secretary), Ellen Kythor (Treasurer), Misha Hoekstra and Kyle Semmel all participated in the strategy meetings at a conference hotel just outside Aarhus.
Initial topics covered:
Committee and group updates (including event planning and AGM for Autumn 2022)
Finalising the members’ rates survey findings (now published for DELT members!)
Collaborations with other networks (SELTA, NCW, BCLT)
Then the committee brainstormed individually and collectively what they wanted to achieve from these strategy sessions and their broad ambitions for DELT over the next 5 years. Unsurprisingly, as well as discussing broader strategy for DELT as a whole, the committee were keen to get to know each other better to forge a stronger working relationship after years of online-only meetings. Dinner, drinks and a late-night walkabout in Aarhus helped to get the ball rolling.
The most intense part of the strategy discussion centred around a SWOT analysis, giving the committee an opportunity to take stock of DELT’s role and purpose from different perspectives. This activity would also feed into prioritising DELT’s aspirations and goals.
These Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats formed the basis of discussion when other DELT members joined the committee at a coffee meeting and workshop later on the second day – virtually and in-person! In total, 15 DELT members were able to participate in this summary workshop and informal chat. It was inspiring to hold a truly hybrid meeting with so many attendees contributing in real life and online.
Following feedback from members, two core aspirations and subsequent concrete goals were identified and finalised:
ENGAGING / ACTIVATING / NURTURING MEMBERS
BECOMING A LEADING TRANSLATOR ORGANISATION
A further, more detailed summary of these aspirations and goals will be circulated to DELT members soon!
Following the formal part of the strategy meetings at the conference hotel, all attendees were invited to a social at Misha’s picturesque communal homestead nearby. This was a fantastic opportunity for socialising and chats about the translation industry, and featured a tour of the farm (can you spot the piglets?), a walk in the woods, fun on a zipline, communal grilling on the campfire, and general summertime østjysk hygge. Many participants had never met in person before, so it really was something special.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen. We are also grateful that our successful funding application to the Danish Arts Foundation (and the rare congruence of the entire committee being in Denmark at the same time!) allowed the committee to meet in the same place at the same time.
AGM season is upon us, and DELT is ready to celebrate its fourth official year of existence! This year we’ve invited DELT members Tam McTurk, Katrine Øgaard Jensen, Sharon Rhodes and Nielsine Nielsen to take part in a series of supporting events, and they’ll be joined by an exciting group of guest speakers, including Jennifer Croft, Iben Hendel Philipsen, Lawrence Schimel and Malene Monka.
The AGM itself will take place on 21 NOVEMBER, 19:30 (UTC)
21 November 16:00 to 17:15 (UTC)
Katrine Øgaard Jensen & Lawrence Schimel (with Nielsine Nielsen)
Why should a literary translator worry about networking — and how can they do it better? Award-winning translators Katrine Øgaard Jensen and Lawrence Schimel will discuss how to network and succeed as a literary translator. In 2018, Katrine received the National Translation Award in poetry for her rendition of Ursula Andkjær Olsen’s poetry collection Third-Millennium Heart. Lawrence is a published author and an established translator working between English and Spanish.
Event: Self-Promotion & Marketing
17:45 to 19:00 (UTC)
Iben Hendel Philipsen, Tam McTurk & Jennifer Croft (with Sharon E. Rhodes)
How can literary translators use social media and create a web presence to promote their work? Jennifer Croft, Tam McTurk, and Iben Hendel Philipsen have all made names for themselves in the world of translation. Iben is not only a bilingual Danish/English translator but is also the founder of IP Words and the activist press, Rebel With a Cause. Tam is both a literary translator and the owner of Citadel Translations, a company that coordinates academic and commercial translations from Danish, Norwegian and Swedish. Finally, Jennifer Croft—the translator of Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights, winner of the 2018 Man Booker International Prize, and an author in her own right — has lit a fire under the debate on acknowledging translators.
Event: Interaktiv Foredrag
23 November 15:00 (UTC)
Nationalromantikkens indflydelse på hvordan vi taler dansk i dag.
’Tain’t easy to hang out your shingle and earn your bread as a literary translator. That’s true for even some of the most acclaimed practitioners of the trade, as both Daniel Hahn and Misha Hoekstra can attest to.
Join this public DELT event where Danny and Misha will discuss the challenges they’ve faced in making literary translation their calling. They’ll address the difficulties of establishing yourself in the profession, plus strategies to help you achieve some measure of financial and mental stability. They’ll also talk about mistakes they’ve made and doubts they still struggle with – as well as why the whole damn enterprise is worth the trouble. Fellow translator Kyle Semmelwill moderate.
Singing for Your Supper: How to Make It as a Translator (Sunday 13 June, 7pm BST / 8pm CEST / 2pm EDT / 12pm MDT / 6pm UTC!) The conversation will run 55 minutes, including Q&A. You’re also invited to stick around afterward for informal questions and discussion.
As lockdown and social distancing measures were suddenly put in place all over the world owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, so DELT’s plans for 2020 suddenly shifted. It soon became apparent that keeping in touch virtually would be the year’s key focus. Twice in May, members were invited to a ‘social’ Zoom meet-up in order to test the technology and gauge interest.
Following up on suggestions from those sessions, on 26 June 2020 DELT hosted a virtual sharing session on the topic Submitting to Magazines, Competitions and Grants. Committee member Lin Falk von Rooyen guided a conversation between a trio of award-winning Danish translators: Misha Hoekstra, Kyle Semmel and Katrina Øgaard Jensen. Lin has kindly put together a report on the top tips and links from this session, which members can read in the Members’ Area.
On 20 July 2020, perfectly timed to coincide with the first ever Danish workshop at the BCLT (British Centre for Literary Translation) Summer School, DELT hosted a Zoom session entitled In Conversation with Christina Hesselholdt.
On this occasion, Paul Russell Garrett (DELT Chair) took the reins, which started with readings in Danish by the author and in English by the BCLT Summer School participants. The panel was then joined by Christina’s publisher, Jacques Testard, and agent, Laurence Laluyaux, who had a wide-ranging discussion on the various stages of publishing a Danish book in the UK. Attendees had an opportunity to ask questions to the panel directly, moderated by DELT founder, Ellen Kythor. Many questions centred around breaking into the industry as a translator and promoting Danish authors abroad. The session was attended by around 35 invitees.
From 20-25 July 2020, ten Danish translators, including six DELT members, took part in the first ever virtual summer school at BCLT, increasing the possibility for participants from around the world to join. The group consisted of participants from the UK, Ireland, Belgium and Denmark, as well as one early riser dialling in from the east coast of America. Led by DELT Chair Paul Russell Garrett, and with the author Christine Hesselholdt ‘in the room’ to respond to any queries, the ten participants set about translating an article that was commissioned by Information, one of a series of articles focussing on Danish nature. The programme consisted of about thirteen hours of translation sessions, which included translation exercises and professional development advice, as well as talks, socials and plenaries with the entire summer school group. The week culminated in a reading of the translated text, however it seemed the group wasn’t content to end it there, and decided to continue meeting after the summer school to translate a second article by the author. They hope to be able to publish their translations and share some of their experiences from a remarkably social summer school, experienced from the comfort of their own homes.
Founder and editor of Fitzcarraldo Editions, Jacques Testard, literary agent, Laurence Laluyaux, and translator Paul Russell Garrett will join Christina Hesselholdt in discussing the publication of Danish literature in translation. Please contact DELT if you would like to participate in this private event for translators of Danish literature into English.
These are strange times we’re living in, but all is not lost! Our new virtual reality means there are opportunities to hone your translation craft wherever you call home!
Danish Arts Foundation funding for the BCLT (British Centre for Literary Translation) Summer School has been pushed back to 2021. Fortunately, BCLT has stepped in to support the Danish programme in 2020, meaning there will be two consecutive summers of Danish translation workshops with BCLT! The deadline for applications is Monday 18 May. Christina Hesselholdt will be joining the workshop sessions, and is hoping to have some new writing for us! More info here.
Foreign Affairs theatre company is now accepting applications for the fourth edition of their Theatre Translator Mentorship programme for translators wanting to translate for the stage. Extended deadline: Thursday 4 June, 17:00. Find all the details here.
And another exciting opportunity for Danish translators will be announced in the coming months, stay tuned for the official news!