A Summer of Virtual Activities

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.

Photo of Christina Hesselholdt by Robin Skjoldborg

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.

A few of the BCLT Danish participants hard at work …

DELT In Conversation with Christina Hesselholdt

Photo by Robin Skjoldborg

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.

Training and Mentorship Opportunities

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!

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 skribbl.io (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 members@danishtranslation.org 

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.