Virtual DELT meetings 2020

On 1 May 2020, DELT members successfully had a first go at meeting via video online! While DELT committee meetings between its 5 committee members usually take place on Skype, this members’ meeting used Zoom. Members were invited to BYO wine, beer or hyldeblomst! 9 people participated and the vibe was convivial with the aim of being a pick-me-up for socially isolated translators. To start off, everyone took it in turns with a short ‘show and tell’ on something relating to Danish and/or translation (almost exclusively book-related in the end!), before most participants tried out the picture guessing game (using Danish words, of course).

scribbl screenshot
skribbl game screenshot

Following this first ‘trial run’, we are keen to organise another virtual get-together very soon! We will act on feedback – the next meeting will be publicised more prominently to DELT members via a Facebook event and email.

DELT AGM and event Pitching Danish Literature Abroad

On Thursday 14 November 2019, DELT gathered for its second Annual General Meeting (AGM) and associated mingling at the delightful home of the Dansk Forfatterforening in central Copenhagen.

This year has been relatively quiet for translator-related events for those working from Danish as the Danish Arts Foundation put on hold its summer school and BogForum visitors programme for 2019. The DELT committee therefore resolved that the AGM should offer a focal point for Danish-English translators attending BogForum (Copenhagen Book Fair). By applying for funding for the event from the Danish Arts Foundation, the budget included a small number of bursaries to enable DELT members who had never previously attended the book fair to come to Copenhagen, and we were thrilled to meet new members at the AGM.

The exciting programme was scheduled to begin mid-afternoon with a publisher pitching and networking session. Due to an unfortunate combination of guest speaker illness and other unforeseeable circumstances, this element had to be postponed. Instead, we were pleased that Dr Ian Giles, Chair of SELTA (and member of DELT), was able to step in and give a talk on ‘Selling Scandinavian Literature to British Readers 1917-2017’. Ian focused on how the use of hybridity, genre and setting has long given Scandinavian literature an edge in the English-speaking markets, with a particular focus on Peter Høeg’s Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow. Ian’s presentation was followed by enthusiastic input from the assembled translators about the subject. This was immediately followed by a masterclass and discussion led by Paul Russell Garrett on the day’s theme of translator pitching. There was discussion of an ideal pitching model (as proposed by Ros Schwartz via the UK Translators’ Association) that also drew on input from assembled translators. Attendees were encouraged to work in groups to prepare a pitch for an existing title drawing on the framework as well as the findings provided in the earlier talk about publishing Scandinavian literature in English.

After a convivial chatty coffee break with Sinéad’s delicious homemade lemon tart, the AGM proper was convened. John Mason chaired the meeting. Dr Ellen Kythor (Chair) delivered a report on DELT’s activities since the first AGM in October 2018. Paul Russell Garrett (Treasurer) provided an update on the association’s financial situation and Lin Falk van Rooyen outlined DELT’s standalone event that took place in Edinburgh in June (see report here). A number of other items for discussion were covered including Danish mentorship and summer school opportunities in upcoming years and engaging members in giving feedback on funding for translation. There was considerable interest from attendees in the progress that DELT is making and how it can best serve all members. As per the Constitution of DELT, at this second AGM there was an election for Chair. Ellen announced she was stepping down and Paul was elected as Chair unopposed. The time flew by – the sign of a good meeting! (Minutes of the AGM, ably written up by Secretary Sinéad Quirke Køngerskov, can be read in the Members Area.)

The final activity on the programme was a peer-to-peer session on pitching tips and stories. Led by Ellen, based on interviews undertaken for her PhD research into publishing Danish literature in the translation, several DELT members gave step-by-step accounts of successful pitches of literary translation projects from Denmark to a British or American publisher. For instance, Lin emphasised that she would endeavour to place projects with publishers based on her enthusiasm for working alongside a particular authors she identified. Paul, meanwhile, described a successful pitching project that involved children’s books, commissioned by an anglophone publisher, but he noted that a pitching approach like this had been an exception in his career trajectory. He also discussed the Starling Bureau, a collective of translators from multiple languages who share resources to pitch a list of titles. Barbara Haveland described an example of pitching that kicked off her own career, and a handful of other attendees added their own anecdotes and comments about successful and unsuccessful attempts to persuade publishers to buy titles.

Everyone had worked up an appetite and the fresh vegetarian boxed meals of open sandwiches and salads were served up to a great reception alongside wine. Many translators used the opportunity to mingle, make new friendships, and rekindle old ones. It was gratifying that almost half of DELT’s members were able to attend, even despite the lack of concurrent Danish Arts Foundation BogForum visitors programme for translators this year. 

21 DELT members attended. View our full list of members of the Translators page. Photo credits: Ian Giles and Ellen Kythor.

We are grateful to the Danish Arts Foundation for its support in hosting this event.

Attendee feedback on DELT Workshop in Edinburgh

In June 2019, DELT members, along with keen students and local translators, assembled in Edinburgh to participate in a workshop and panel on the theme of ‘translator as/and editor’. Our full write-up is available online. We requested feedback from attendees via a SurveyMonkey questionnaire – this news post collates a few key titbits!

Most survey respondents described the daytime translation workshop as inspiring, interesting, organised and welcoming. In summary, participants particularly liked the collegiality of the daytime workshop. The icebreaker and designing in a mix of experience into the sub-groups were especially positively received. In future, some respondents suggested a longer workshop with an opportunity to mix groups.

“The workshop GOT ME THINKING – which is exciting, as a lot of our work as translators is rather hum drum.”

Attendees appreciated the “excellent composition” of the expert evening panel, The Symbiotic Relationship between the Editor and the Translator. The panel might have been improved by a more Nordic focus and more time for audience Q&A, but overall respondents enjoyed the flow of conversation and stories from such a broad range of panellists.

“The realization that the work of a translator and that of an editor is SO amazingly entwined. How essential it is for a translator to have good chemistry with the editor.”

“…entertaining but illustrative anecdotes… it was just solid.”

The overall networking elements of the event were appreciated and praised, but we were also given great ideas for future networking options such as including opportunities for translators to promote their books or spend more time with the expert panellists.

[Networking] is invaluable even though it may not seem so at the time. The informal discussions with others, on working conditions, publishers they know etc. were all extremely useful. And it was great to meet some old friends and make new ones!”

Thank you so much for the constructive feedback that has given DELT’s committee some ideas to work with for future plans!

“Really great event and I really enjoyed myself. Let me on a work-high for a few days after.”

DELT in Edinburgh, 25 June 2019 – Translator as Editor/Translator and Editor

On 25 June, DELT members converged on the city of Edinburgh for a workshop, panel and networking event, which was kindly hosted by the University of Edinburgh Scandinavian Studies section in their home of 50 George Square. DELT is grateful to have received financial assistance from the Danish Arts Foundation’s Literature Fund to hold this event.

The Danish-English translation workshop, organised by the DELT Committee, followed the theme of ‘translator as editor/translator and editor’. 20 people participated in the workshop component of the day, including 11 DELT members. We were thrilled to be joined by 5 current students of Scandinavian Studies at Edinburgh, as well as several translators of Scandinavian languages based in Scotland who were keen to practise some Danish literary translation in contrast to their daily diet of Norwegian or Swedish! The day kicked off at midday when the group gathered for the chance to get to know each other better over a buffet lunch outside the workshop venue. Conversation flowed and newcomers were a little more familiar by the time everyone was ushered in to start the workshop.

After an initial welcome and thank yous from DELT Chair and Founder, Ellen Kythor, the workshop began in earnest, led by DELT member and Treasurer Paul Russell Garrett. Attendees were treated to a series of exercises borrowed from the world of theatre designed to get brains working and attuned to the group work to follow. A get-to-know-you exercise requested one fun fact about each participant – many were surprised at what they learned! A one-word chain storytelling exercise later resulted in dexterity and laughs from everyone.

Paul assigned participants into small groups ensuring a good mix of backgrounds, skills and interests in every team. The exercises started with a discussion amongst all groups about what considerations and actions were involved in the act of editing a translated text, and which of these were priorities. The assembled participants had a range of ideas about what came first in this regard. There was also extensive discussion about the working processes different translators preferred when drafting, re-drafting and editing their own work.

Then each of the five groups were issued with a separate unseen Danish literary text of just a hundred words. The initial task was for each individual to produce their own draft translation of the Danish source text. The next phase saw each group assigned to produce one agreed translation of their text that took on board the decisions of all group members: an initial editing exercise. Most participants were surprised to find what similarities and differences there were in their initial individual drafts. Towards the end of the first half of the workshop, each group then read aloud their agreed translation to all of the participants and discussed which editing challenges they had particularly focused on in their compilation task. All the translated texts already sounded very impressive!

After a coffee break (with doughnuts!) to ensure everyone was fully fuelled, it was back to the translation coal face… this time putting on their ‘editing’ hats. Paul requested that each group select a known publisher that regularly published translations, and brainstorm on this publisher’s house style and editing values. The teams MacLehose Press, Norvik Press, Fitzcarraldo, Hesperus and Pushkin Press all applied these approaches to three translations that were ‘delivered’ to them from other groups. Despite the Danish expertise in the room, this time no editors had access to the source text – only the translation. This resulted in various challenges, depending on the ethos of each group’s respective publishing house style. It also gave translators insight into the real position of most anglophone editors in the industry – editing without the ‘original’. Eventually, all participants reconvened and compared notes on how they had edited each text… very differently! The session concluded with each participant describing one thing they would take away from the workshop and one thing they would leave behind, revealing that for many participants, emerging and emerged translators alike, it had been a confidence-boosting and inspiring afternoon.

After a little time to reset, everyone returned – along with a number of additional audience members – for the showpiece panel discussion, titled ‘The Symbiotic Relationship between the Editor and the Translator’. The stellar panel featured renowned translator and translation-activist Daniel Hahn, founder and editor of Charco Press Carolina Orloff, and the Scots translator (and author and publisher) James Robertson. Norwegian-English translator Kari Dickson was chairing proceedings. Panel coordinator Lin Falk van Rooyen (DELT’s Events and Networking Officer) introduced the panellists.

The panellists discussed several issues on the topic of editing translations, including the connection between translating and editing in the translation process, and how the nature of this process impacts on the quality of the final translation. There was a lot of interest, especially from the audience, in the requirement or lack of knowledge of the source language as an editor of a translation. Discussion also covered the difference between editing and proofreading, and included some fascinating (and dreadful!) tales from the industry of less-than-good practice!

The panel whizzed by and, after a number of audience questions, the gathering moved outside the room to mingle and enjoy refreshments. Conversation was fruitful and enthused and new friendships were formed. DELT was delighted to be able to facilitate such a gathering between industry experts and translation enthusiasts from many different language combinations and backgrounds.

The evening was rounded off with a convivial dinner just across the road for DELT members and colleagues.

The event was organised by DELT committee members Ellen Kythor (Chair), Lin Falk van Rooyen (Events and Networking Officer), Paul Russell Garrett (Treasurer), John Mason and Sinead Quirke Køngerskov (Co-Secretaries). DELT would especially like to thank Dr Guy Puzey in Scandinavian Studies at University of Edinburgh for his assistance and enthusiasm in enabling us to hold the event at this venue. DELT’s committee was successful in applying for a grant from the Danish Arts Foundation to ensure this event could take place, of which the majority covered speakers’ fees for panellists and travel grants for 10 participants coming from outside Edinburgh. If you attended, please complete our feedback survey. If you are interested in our future events and also have an interest in translating Danish literature into English, please consider joining DELT.

Photo credits: Ian Giles and Ellen Kythor

DELT panel and networking reception, Edinburgh 25 June 2019

The Symbiotic Relationship Between Editor & Translator

Join us in Edinburgh on 25 June 2019 for a lively discussion about the editing of literature in translation. We’re very excited to be bringing together a select group of industry professionals to discuss a topic our members have been clamouring to hear more about!

Speakers on the panel discussion:

  • Kari Dickson: Norwegian to English translator and lecturer (Chair)
  • Daniel Hahn: Portuguese, Spanish, French to English translator, lecturer and industry extraordinaire
  • Carolina Orloff: Founding Editor of Charco Press, Spanish to English translator
  • James Robertson: Scottish author, editor and translator

Topics covered will include:

  • Where do you draw the line between translating and editing during the translation process?
  • How do you establish a positive relationship between editor and translator?
  • Who has the final say – editor, translator or author?

Translators, publishers, industry professionals, students or anyone with an interest in translated literature in the UK – you’re all invited! Following the panel discussion there will be a networking reception to which we invite translators, publishers, and other industry professionals.

DATE/TIME: Tuesday 25 June, 17.00-19.00

VENUE: University of Edinburgh – School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, 50 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9LH.

Please RSVP via our Eventbrite event page to be kept up-to-date!

This panel and reception will be preceded during the day by a Danish-English literary translation workshop for DELT members and invited members of University of Edinburgh. If applicable, RSVP by 31 May to confirm your attendance directly to 

Supported by the Danish Arts Foundation.

DELT roundtable and networking reception, Vancouver 4 June 2019

As part of this year’s AASSC conference (at Congress 2019), DELT will be represented in a public panel/roundtable

Chairs on Chairs: A Guide to Scandinavian Literary Translators’ Networks

The Swedish-English Literary Translators’ Association (SELTA) was founded in the UK 1982 and has since served the interests of its members – practising, professional literary translators – as well as promoting Swedish-language literature to the English-speaking world through its house journal Swedish Book Review. Swedish Translators in North America (STiNA) was established in 2004 to represent the interests of literary translators of Swedish working in the USA and Canada. The Association of Danish-English Literary Translators (DELT) is the new kid on the (Scandinavian literary translation) block, having been first established as a network in 2014 before forming a full association in 2018.

The three organisations come from different backgrounds, but all fulfil important roles in representing Scandinavian literary culture abroad. Ian Giles (SELTA), Ellen Kythor (DELT), and Paul Norlen (STiNA) will be discussing the role and purposes of translator networks in the Scandinavian-English context, as well as what the future may hold.

The panel/roundtable discussion will be followed immediately by a networking reception.

Translators, students of translation, DELT members, AASSC conference delegates, and anyone interested in literary translation from Danish (and other Scandinavian languages) – all welcome! 

VENUE: University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. (venue: CHOI 120 then CHOI Atrium)

TIME/DATE: Tuesday 4 June 2019, 4.30pm-5.30pm (public panel/roundtable), 5.30pm onwards (reception. venue: CHOI Atrium)

Please email the DELT Chair if you would like more information in advance.

DELT’s participation in this event has been kindly supported by the Danish Arts Foundation.

Report from 1st AGM, Copenhagen, October 2018

On 26th October 2018, DELT held its first Annual General Meeting (AGM) followed by a panel discussion and informal dinner at Dansk Forfatterforening‘s beautiful baroque premises in Christianshavn, Copenhagen.

At the meeting, the Constitution was ratified and signed by the formally elected first Committee. We thank Gyldendal for contributing bubbly for toasting the official founding of DELT.

DELT committee
DELT’s First Committee (left to right): Sinéad Quirke Køngerskov (co-Secretary), Lin Falk van Rooyen (Events), Paul Russell Garrett (Treasurer), John Mason (co-Secretary), Ellen Kythor (Chair)

The AGM covered finances, strategy, events, and future potential projects including a proposal for an independent DELT publication. (Members can read the full AGM Minutes in the website’s Members’ Area.)

Following the formal AGM and a quick break for coffee (during which members enjoyed Sinéad’s delicious vegan Guinness cake!), a panel discussion on the topic ‘No Translator is an Island’ was opened by DELT events coordinator Lin Falk van Rooyen, prefaced with a round of introductions from all attendees, including a brief mention of members’ current translation projects.

Ably moderated by Lin, established literary translators and DELT members, Martin Aitken and Misha Hoekstra, shared their (rather different!) day-to-day working practices with the audience, including insights into the ways in which professional relationships with colleagues, authors, and publishers have been maintained from their respective ‘lonely’ desks in Denmark. Following Misha and Martin’s lively exchange the discussion was opened to the floor for questions.

Dinner in the same venue was informal and convivial, enabling members to network and lively discussion continued including topics arising from the meeting and panel. Attendees enjoyed Govinda’s tasty vegan buffet, arranged by Sinéad and Paul. A die-hard group pitched in with the dishes and and clearing up afterwards that provided ample opportunity for laughter and building friendships!

Ellen Kythor welcomes attendees to the AGM
  • report by Ellen Kythor (DELT Chair) and Lin Falk van Rooyen (DELT events coordinator)

21 DELT members attended. Meeting attendees (alphabetical by first name): Anna Halager, Annette David, Ellen Kythor, Fiona Harris, Ian Giles, John Mason, Katrine Øgaard Jensen, Larry Morlan, Lin Falk van Rooyen, Martin Aitken, Michael Goldman, Misha Hoekstra, Nina Sokol, Paul Larkin, Paul Russell Garrett, Phillip Sheils, Sherilyn Hellberg, Sinéad Quirke Køngerskov, Solvej Todd, Tam McTurk, and Thom Satterlee.

Photo credits: Lin Falk van Rooyen, Paul Russell Garrett, Ian Giles, Ellen Kythor, Sinéad Quirke Køngerskov

We are grateful for assistance from the Danish Arts Foundation’s Networking Fund (pulje for oversætternetværk) to host this event.

AGM and Dinner, 26 October 2018

We are thrilled that so many DELT members have responded to confirm their attendance at our first AGM, to be held in Copenhagen on the afternoon of Friday 26th October 2018. The AGM part of the meeting will be followed by an engaging and informative panel discussion on the topic ‘No Translator is an Island’, after which we will enjoy a convivial, informal dinner and a toast to DELT’s future.


  • Welcome

  • AGM (Agenda below)

  • Coffee

  • Panel/Speakers (Outline below)

  • Dinner

AGM Agenda

1. Statement of the purpose of the Founding AGM and on the formation of DELT

2. Election of a member to chair the meeting and another to write the minutes

3. Motion to declare and adopt DELT’s Constitution

4. Motion to elect DELT’s Founding Committee as DELT’s First Committee

5. Founding Chair’s report

6. Founding Treasurer’s report

7. DELT’s current projects:

  • publication ideas

  • strategy ideas

  • future events

  • mentorship/skills/CPD

8. AOB

Panel Discussion

Topic: ‘No Translator is an Island’

Panellists: Martin Aitken and Misha Hoekstra

Moderator: Lin Falk van Rooyen, DELT Committee

Martin Aitken and Misha Hoekstra have translated an impressive list of prize-winning books by internationally acclaimed Danish authors including Peter Høeg, Dorthe Nors, Helle Helle, Ida Jessen and Kim Leine. Their translations have appeared with renowned anglophone publishers like Archipelago and Graywolf Press in the United States and Pushkin Press and Vintage in the United Kingdom. Misha is a professional musician and Martin holds a PhD in linguistics; both highly respected translators now live in Denmark yet came to our profession from such different angles on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Drawing on their vast and varied experience in translation, we will discuss the multi-faceted challenges involved in the business of literary translation, which – perhaps paradoxically – is essentially practised alone.

The questions that the panellists will be discussing include:

– What challenges does the solo translator face in the day-to-day business of translation?

– How can we tackle the loneliness our profession?

– How can we approach the challenge of networking and creating and maintaining independent contacts with publishers on the UK/US market?

DELT members can contribute with questions they would like the panel to address on this topic via the DELT Facebook Group.

Dinner and wine to toast will conclude the afternoon/evening’s events.

First AGM – save the date

We are excited to announce that planning for DELT’s first AGM is underway. A talk/discussion panel and a social dinner will be held following the AGM in celebration of our first year.

The Founding AGM of the Association for Danish-English Literary Translators (DELT) will take place on Friday 26 October 2018, 3pm (AGM followed by guest speaker/s and dinner) in central Copenhagen. Dinner will be subsidised (other expenses for attendees unfortunately cannot be covered on this occasion).

RSVP to confirm your attendance and for venue details by Thursday 20 September 2018 (please advise of any dietary requirements):

Agenda and full programme to follow.