Wild Translation workshop

Paul Russell Garrett reports on the first in a series of workshops facilitated by Nielsine Nielsen (pictured).

On a cold, dark Copenhagen day in April 2024, a small troupe of translators met up at Kulturhuset in Islands Brygge, in the inaptly-named room, Solisten. For although we translators are famed for working solo, on this day, we came together to pool our combined creative forces. Yes, individual thoughts and ideas were expressed, but they were the result of a creative and collaborative atmosphere, subtly and deftly created by workshop leader Nielsine Nielsen, as we exercised our translation muscles.

As our guide for the day, Nielsine presented the background, scope, and vision for the session, sharing her long-developed ideas on wild translation and how to translate wildly. Was this to be a translation strategy or a translator manifesto? Time will tell.

The afternoon began with a brief introduction from participants, including sharing what kind of tree we would like to be. I chose an oak, hoping to imbue the ensuing activities with its sturdy characteristics. A series of exercises ensued, which included crayons, more trees, and working on texts into and out of Danish. With Nielsine’s prompts to both think wildly and to focus on the outcome, there were definitely some wild translation results!

“I found the Wild Translation workshop to be really refreshing and liberating. The techniques Nielsine Nielsen presented could lead to more creative solutions to translation challenges in literary translations and in other genres. I left the workshop feeling inspired and prepared to look at my work in a new way”

Mary McGovern (translator)

In collaboration with DELT, Nielsine plans to run the second in a series of four wild translation workshops later this year. Watch out for updates in our members’ newsletter and members’ Facebook Group! If you’d like to take part, find out how to join DELT here.