Thursday, May 14, 2020

SOBRE A PROGRESIVA DIMINUCIÓN DO APOIO INSTITUCIONAL Á TRADUCIÓN EN GALICIA


Segundo este artigo de Chad Post, Small Stations Press vén sendo a segunda meirande editora de literatura de España en Estados Unidos durante a década 2008-2018. Cando empezamos a editar a literatura galega en inglés en 2009, só había 29 títulos galegos en inglés que saíron durante o periodo 1964-2008. Parecéronnos ben poucos para unha literatura de tres millóns de falantes. A finais de 2019, xa había 104 títulos galegos en inglés, un incremento de 75 títulos en once anos, dos que 46 títulos son nosos. Pódese consultar unha lista dos títulos neste enlace.

Dividimos os títulos de Small Stations en catro coleccións: narrativa adulta (Small Stations Fiction, www.smallstations.com/fiction), narrativa xuvenil (Galician Wave, www.smallstations.com/wave), clásicos da literatura galega (Galician Classics, www.smallstations.com/classics) e poesía (Small Stations Poetry, www.smallstations.com/poetry).



Editamos as primeiras edicións en inglés dos poemarios Cantares gallegos e Follas novas de Rosalía de Castro, en tradución da poeta canadense Erín Moure. Cantares gallegos saíu por vez primeira en 1863, a súa edición inglesa non ata 2013 – 150 anos despois! En total, editamos a obra de 29 escritoras e escritores galegos en tradución de 9 tradutoras e tradutores, e con ilustracións de 7 ilustradoras e ilustradores. Editamos a obra de autoras como Marilar Aleixandre, Fina Casalderrey, Agustín Fernández Paz, Paco Martín, Marina Mayoral, Teresa Moure, Xavier Queipo, Manuel Rivas, Anxos Sumai e Suso de Toro. Este ano temos previsto sacar dez títulos máis de autoras inéditas en inglés como son An Alfaya, Marica Campo, Francisco Castro, Pedro Feijoo, Iria Misa, Xelís de Toro e Martín Veiga.

Para algúns destes libros recibimos as axudas á tradución que outorga a Xunta de Galicia. A xente pensa que estas axudas son para a editorial, pero débense pagar integramente á persoa tradutora da obra. De feito, a editorial recibe só o 45% da axuda de antemán, debe anticipar o resto ao pagar á persoa tradutora e esperar ata que o proxecto se aprobe para cobrar o 55% restante (que pode ser varios meses ou incluso un ano despois). A editorial funciona como banco de crédito, neste sentido.

A tarefa que outorgaba a Xunta de Galicia era de 25-50 euros/páxina ata 2012, pero en 2013 esta tarefa baixou a 20 euros/páxina, que está por debaixo da tarefa recomendada pola Asociación de Tradutoras do Reino Unido (£95/1.000 palabras, aproximadamente 25 euros/páxina). Con esta tarefa, a persoa tradutora só vai poder sobrevivir, non vai poder aforrar. A persoa tradutora tense que manter nunha permanente tensión – só cobra mentres traduce, en canto deixa de facelo non cobra nada. Non conta con seguridade social, pensión, vacacións pagadas.

E nos anos 2013, 2014 e 2019, a Xunta de Galicia chegou a outorgar para algúns dos nosos libros tarefas de 17,80, 17,52 e 15,42 euros/páxina respetivamente. Na convocatoria – por exemplo esta de 2020 – a tarefa dáse como ‘20 euros por páxina, como máximo’, o cal simplemente fixa o límite para a Xunta – debería ser unha tarefa mínima que se garante para a persoa tradutora, é dicir, ‘20 euros por páxina, como mínimo’.

Cando lle escribín á Xefa do Servizo do Libro e Publicacións, Dolores Tobío Barreira, para saber que debía facer coa tarefa de 15,42 euros, a resposta foi que a editorial debía poñer a diferencia. Entón a editorial que intenta exportar a literatura galega, á parte de correr cos gastos de revisión do texto, deseño, impresión e distribución do libro, debe anticipar o 55% da axuda e suplir o déficit cando esta axuda non chega aos 20 euros/páxina.

A partir de 2018, introducíronse axudas para a tradución dos libros, ‘así como para a súa edición’, pero en 2018 non se percibiu ningunha suma adicional e en 2019 foron sumas pequenas e na metade dos casos a tarefa que se pagou pola tradución foi menos de 20 euros/páxina – o que se gañou acabouse perdendo.



Small Stations Press está basado en Bulgaria. Utilizamos o mesmo sistema de distribución ca moitas editoras do Reino Unido (como, por exemplo, Shearsman Books, editora de moitos títulos da poesía galega en inglés), é dicir print on demand ou impresión baixa demanda, o cal permite que os libros se poidan pedir e imprimir nos tres grandes mercados anglosaxóns de Estados Unidos, do Reino Unido e de Australia a través de 39.000 puntos de venda e dende calquera curruncho do mundo. Intentamos que os prezos dos nosos libros, que varían entre 10 e 18 euros, sexan asequibles.

A tradución é moi importante. É a voz propia máis alén das fronteiras dun país. A outra persoa na maioría dos casos non vai chegar a entender a cultura galega sen que haxa tradutor ou tradutora que a traduza. A tradución permite o intercambio cultural, a comprensión mutua, debería ser unha prioridade, pero moitas veces só se nos ocorre despois (e en canto deixa de ser necesaria, adoitamos esquecela). Pero é a voz do outro.

A Consellería de Cultura e Turismo da Xunta de Galicia ten unha páxina adicada ás traducións, que a día de hoxe (14 de maio de 2020) conta con cinco iniciativas:
1. as axudas á tradución que mencionei arriba;
2. a colección Galician Classics, que foron coedicións entre a Xunta de Galicia e a miña editorial, Small Stations Press, e que consta de sete títulos;
3. unha Anthology of Galician Literature-Antoloxía da literatura galega bilingüe (galego-inglés) que saíu en dous volumes (1196-1981/1981-2011) en 2010 e 2012, da que fun eu o editor e o principal tradutor;
4. un web para a literatura galega en inglés, o Portico of Galician Literature, www.galicianliterature.gal, que coordino;
5. o Obradoiro internacional de tradución poética que organiza a impulsora cultural Yolanda Castaño.

Nótase que tres das cinco iniciativas dependen directamente do meu traballo como tradutor e editor, pero en ningún momento se menciona o meu nome. O tradutor non existe.

A colección Galician Classics é unha colección magnífica – de deseño facilmente recoñecible, cunha foto da autora ou do autor na portada e a ollada da autora ou do autor no lombo do libro, para que nos atraia a atención dende o estante (e certamente é así). Na súa función de coeditora, para os catro primeiros títulos a Xunta de Galicia mercaba mil exemplares, pero a partir da edición de Nimbos en 2014 este número baixou a trescentos exemplares, o cal dificultou moito a edición de Follas novas en 2016 (cando tiven que aportar os meus propios cartos para que a edición saíse adiante e a tradutora recibise a tarefa recomendada), e a partir da edición de Ilustrísima en 2017 non se fixo ningunha outra edición. É dicir, a Xunta de Galicia terminou a súa colaboración nesta colección hai tres anos, a pesar das suxerencias que fixen ao Director xeral de Políticas Culturais, Anxo Lorenzo, de sacarmos títulos como Á lus do candil de Ánxel Fole, Arredor de si de Ramón Otero Pedrayo, Tempo fósil de Pilar Pallarés (obra gañadora do Premio Nacional de Poesía) e Scórpio de Ricardo Carvalho Calero (figura que se celebra este ano no Día das letras galegas, pero do que non se pode ler ningún libro en inglés).

É unha mágoa porque esta colección, ao seren nomes máis facilmente recoñecibles (Rosalía de Castro, Álvaro Cunqueiro, Carlos Casares), tivo unha relativamente boa acepción entre o lectorado anglófono.



Namentres, a Anthology of Galician Literature-Antoloxía da literatura galega en dous volumes (1196-1981/1981-2011) tivo a particularidade de que as cento dez escolmas as fixesen as propias autoras e autores, ou persoas expertas na súa obra. O segundo volume saíu hai xa oito anos, e a meu ver non tiveron a distribución debida – podíanse dar a cada visitante estranxeiro ás institucións galegas e a participantes en eventos, conferencias e festivais organizados en Galicia, como carta de presentación. Ben sabido é que o inglés funciona como lingua intermediaria, e moitas editoras e lectoras do mundo o utilizan para acceder a textos (e culturas) aos que non terían acceso normalmente.

O web para a literatura galega en inglés, o Portico of Galician Literature, www.galicianliterature.gal, conta coa presencia virtual de corenta escritoras e escritores galegos, cunha pequena biografía, a sinopse dun libro importante e unha tradución mostra de 40-50 páxinas. Utílizase nas feiras do libro. Segundo Google Analytics, dende a súa incepción en 2012 recibiu as visitas de máis de 14.000 usuarios dun total de máis de 80 países do mundo. Sen embargo, e a pesar de que lle escribín tres correos electrónicos ao Director xeral de Políticas Culturais, Anxo Lorenzo, e ao seu departamento nos meses de febreiro e marzo, a Xunta de Galicia este ano non renovou o seu interese.

É dicir, das cinco iniciativas adicadas á tradución, semella que tres pertencen ao pasado (pero mantéñense, anonimamente, na páxina web da Consellería de Cultura); as axudas á tradución e o Obradoiro que organiza Yolanda Castaño, é de esperar que continúen.

Esta é a situación que afrontamos as tradutoras e editoras da literatura galega fóra de Galicia (é dicir, as representantes da cultura galega para toda persoa que non entenda galego, que vén sendo a gran maioría da poboación do mundo).

A semana pasada (7 de maio de 2020), o Conselleiro de Cultura e Turismo, Román Rodríguez, presentou un plan de reactivación dos sectores cultural e turístico (a nova está aquí, o PDF do plan aquí). A tradución méncionase na páxina 42:

“Apoio ás traducións literarias. Incremento das axudas ás empresas editoras para a realización de traducións do galego a outras linguas e doutras linguas ao galego.”

As únicas axudas que eu coñezo son as axudas á tradución que mencionei. A convocatoria de 2019 está resolta. A convocatoria de 2020 está en trámite, pero non se sabe cando se han outorgar. Se se outorgan en xullo ou agosto, como vén sendo habitual, a primeira anualidade das axudas (o 45%) pagarase este ano e a segunda anualidade (o 55%) a finais de 2021 ou principios de 2022. Aínda que se incrementen – entendo que o orzamento será maior e se outorgarán máis axudas, pero coa mesma tarefa de 20 euros/páxina (que está fixada na convocatoria ‘como máximo’, pero que pode ser menos) – ¿que axuda nos dá nesta situación difícil que afrontamos? Cando, á vez, parece que se cancelaron os proxectos Galician Classics e Portico of Galician Literature, e a Anthology of Galician Literature foi editada hai xa varios anos.



Levo vinculado coa cultura galega trinta anos. Traducín obras de Manuel Rivas que están editadas por Penguin Random House. Editei e traducín un suplemento de Contemporary Galician Poets para a revista da Poetry Society británica, a máis prestixiosa revista de poesía do Reino Unido, Poetry Review en 2010. Este suplemento foi enviado en papel aos domicilios das 4.000 suscritoras e suscritores da revista e segue dispoñible na páxina web da revista para calquera que queira descargalo.

Dende hai trinta anos, fixen un esforzo tremendo para que a literatura galega – e, por tanto, a cultura galega – saíse máis alá das súas fronteiras lingüísticas, esforzo que non recibiu ningún recoñecemento oficial por parte das institucións galegas e que nin merece mención do meu nome na páxina web da Xunta de Galicia que está adicada ás traducións.

O que necesitamos é un apoio para promocionar os nosos títulos, unha política de promoción. Veño dende 2009 reclamando a creación dunha Oficina de Tradución cun orzamento anual de entre 60.000 e 120.000 euros (o Consello da Cultura Galega, que ten un apartado de ‘Acción Exterior’, conta cun orzamento anual de 2.800.000 euros, segundo este artigo de Galicia Press) que se adique a promocionar os títulos galegos noutros idiomas, a establecer contactos cos axentes culturais dos países de chegada (librarías, bibliotecas, xornalistas, etc.), a organizar actos, a poñer anuncios en revistas relevantes, incluso a organizar un premio de tradución para premiar o labor da persoa tradutora e realzar a obra gañadora. Hai un montón de actividades que se podían levar a cabo para que as traducións entrasen con máis facilidade no mercado de chegada, pero fai falta un orzamento, fai falta un compromiso constante. Levo once anos pedindo e agardando esta iniciativa.

Nunha recente entrevista con Daniel Salgado no xornal Nós Diario, tamén suxiro a creación dunha Escola de Tradutoras con dez postos de traballo para persoas tradutoras, para que as tradutoras poidamos percibir un salario, dignamente. Podíanse dar a persoas tradutoras con probada traxectoria que traballan activamente no eido da tradución co galego. Segundo o mesmo artigo de Galicia Press, a Consellería de Cultura e Turismo conta cun orzamento anual de 157.200.000 euros. Podíanse crear vinte-cinco postos de traballo cun salario anual (pagado de antemán e cunha duración mínima de cinco anos) de 25.000 euros – a literatura galega chegaría moito máis alá, as tradutoras teriamos certa estabilidade en vez de ir de proxecto en proxecto, e levaría o 0,4% do orzamento. ¿Non é apto para unha Consellería de Cultura e Turismo?

E se o Conselleiro de Cultura e Turismo, Román Rodríguez, realmente quere axudar ás persoas tradutoras, debe non incrementar as axudas, senón incrementar a miserable tarefa de 20 euros/páxina a 25 euros/páxina como mínimo. Isto pódese facer co mesmo orzamento, outorgando axudas a menos libros – corenta en vez de cincuenta, por exemplo.

Afronto serias dificultades para sobrevivir simplemente polo feito de ser tradutor – porque creo que debería haber persoas tradutoras que se adiquen á tradución a tempo completo. A tradución é unha práctica, apréndese na práctica, pero as tradutoras corremos o risco de nos convertermos en pezas arqueolóxicas.

Jonathan Dunne
Director, Small Stations Press
Tradutor da literatura galega dende 1993

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rosalía Translators – Interview with John Howard Reid

Continuing our series of interviews with editors/translators of Rosalía de Castro’s Galician and Spanish poetry, I include here an interview with John Howard Reid, the editor/translator of two anthologies of Rosalía’s Spanish poetry.

John Howard Reid (also known as Tom Howard) is based in Australia. He self publishes with Lulu.com. He has published numerous titles on cinema, a series of mystery/suspense novels based on the character Merryll Manning, new translations of the Gospels, poetry, advice on writing, and translations from Spanish of poetry.

These translations include Rosalia de Castro: Selected poems rendered into English verse and Rosalia de Castro: Margarita & other poems in Spanish & English. A third volume of Rosalía’s Galician poems, based on Mauro Armiño’s Spanish translation, is planned.

What made you want to translate Rosalía de Castro’s poetry?
I’ve always loved Rosalia’s work since reading ‘The Bells’ many years ago at college.

What were the main criteria you used in your selection?
I had none. I simply translated the poems I particularly admired. But there were so many de Castro creations in this category, one book could not contain all my favorites. So I followed Rosalia de Castro Selected Poems rendered into English verse with Margarita & Other Poems in Spanish & English.

Why were none of Rosalía’s Galician poems included in your selection?
I can’t read Galician, but now that they have been translated into Spanish, I am working on English translations for publication later this year.

Did you receive any input from the publisher – did they comment on the translation or did they limit themselves to publishing the book?
The publisher had no input whatever. In fact, they didn’t even publicize the book to any great extent.

What kind of reception has the book received? How well has it been distributed?
Reviewers have been most encouraging, but despite their praises, the publisher, the wholesaler and book retailers generally have been totally unimpressed. Amazon is the only noteworthy exception.

You have translated other poets and also parts of the Bible. How do you approach a translation? Do you approach all translations in the same way?
To some extent, the answer is yes. My first question is: ‘What are the authors actually telling us in this particular passage or sentence?’ My second question: ‘How can that particular notion/thought/statement/idea be best rendered into English?’ In other words, it is the meaning rather than the form that I home in on, but I do try to preserve a poetic structure, even if that structure is not actually a mirror image of the original.

You have written poetry, crime fiction, advice on writing, and also been involved for many years in the publishing industry. How do you combine such varied activities?
I transferred from the newspaper industry to the publishing industry because I wanted to broaden my horizons. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life writing a newspaper column. Who remembers newspaper columnists – even famous ones? Is Will Rogers still thought of as a newspaper columnist? In fact I’d be surprised if anyone would make this connection today.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fifty Books of Galician Literature Are Published in English


The list of books of Galician literature published in English has reached fifty titles for the first time. 2013 has already seen two titles published in English: Rosalía de Castro’s Galician Songs (in Erín Moure’s translation) and Suso de Toro’s The Hunting Shadow (in Antonio de Toro and David Clark’s translation). A couple of other titles are projected for the coming months.

The bumper year regarding books of Galician literature published in English was 2010, which saw seven titles, including the first volume of Jonathan Dunne’s Anthology of Galician Literature and Antonio de Toro’s anthology Breogán’s Lighthouse.

The most successful author of Galician literature published in English is Manuel Rivas, seven of whose titles have appeared, five in Jonathan Dunne’s translation, one in a translation by Margaret Jull Costa and Jonathan Dunne and one in Lorna Shaugnessy’s translation. His eighth title, All Is Silence, is due out in May.

The first book of Galician literature published in English was Rosalía de Castro’s Poems, which was produced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Madrid in 1964. There have been a total of twenty-four poetry collections, thirteen novels, eight books of short stories and five mixed-genre anthologies.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Rosalía Day – ‘The Poet Out of Time & Place’


To celebrate Rosalía Day, the Irish poet Michael Smith, who edited and translated Rosalía de Castro’s Selected Poems for Shearsman Books in 2007, has written the following poem, which we are honoured to publish on this blog:

THE POET OUT OF TIME & PLACE

in memoriam Rosalía de Castro (1837-1885)

Born out of time and place
as most of us think we are,
her sadness was not hers alone
but her people’s, too, inbred in her.

‘A village moaner,’ Unamuno said.
But his own moans – his mortality –
were longer and larger than hers
which she bore with as great courage.

A lost, loved child. Sickness.
Wanderings in a Castile not quite hers,
a heart-rending desire to return,

to die by the sea amid her own.
Their lost poetry her persistent love.
Her scattered folk never forgotten.

Michael Smith

Galician Songs in English


Small Stations Press announces the publication of Rosalía de Castro’s Galician Songs, considered the cornerstone of modern Galician literature, for the first time in English. The translation was carried out by the Canadian poet and translator Erín Moure, who as well as being an accomplished poet in her own right – winner of the Governor General’s Award for poetry and twice of the A. M. Klein Prize for Poetry – has translated three books by Chus Pato into English, all of them published by Shearsman Books.



Galician Songs forms part of the series Galician Classics published by Small Stations Press with the support of the Xunta de Galicia. Previous titles in the series are Lois Pereiro’s Collected Poems, Álvaro Cunqueiro’s Folks From Here and There and Celso Emilio Ferreiro’s Long Night of Stone.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Rosalía Translators – Interview with Aileen Dever


The third and final interview in our series of interviews with the editors/translators of the three anthologies of Rosalía de Castro’s Galician and Spanish poetry available in English is with Aileen Dever, who together with her father, John P. Dever, edited and translated The Poetry and Prose of Rosalía de Castro for Edwin Mellen Press in 2010.

What made you want to translate work by Rosalía de Castro?
My father and I were drawn to the beauty and meaningfulness of Rosalía’s poetry and essays. We thought it could be useful to bring to English a larger selection of her work for scholars, creative writers, and those who simply enjoy reading poetry and prose.

How difficult was it to find a publisher? Who made the initial contact, you or the publisher?
It was not difficult to find a publisher as Edwin Mellen Press regularly has a representative and published material about the company at one of the conferences I regularly attend. When my father and I decided to do the translation, we sent the manuscript proposal to Mellen simply because we knew them.

There were two of you translating this book. How did you share the workload?
My father had recently retired from his teaching position and was looking for projects to do. I thought this might be a nice project to engage his mind and one in which he could continue to utilize his skills. We divided up the poems and essays equally. Then we would do our own translations; next we would exchange them and edit each other’s work.

Which edition of Rosalía de Castro’s texts did you use?
Castro, Rosalía de. Obras completas. Ed. Marina Mayoral. 2 vols. Madrid: Biblioteca Castro, 1993.

What were the main criteria you used in your selection?
The main criteria used included selections that we found meaningful, beautiful and artistic in addition to seeking a wide representation of Rosalía’s themes. We wanted readers to have a very good idea of who she was.

Was there a difference between translating texts from Galician and Spanish?
I would say that I particularly enjoyed translating the Galician texts because I think they truly represent Rosalía’s greatest work.

Did you receive any input from the publisher – did they comment on the translation or did they limit themselves to publishing the book?
The manuscript was sent out for review and one critic thought the manuscript was too long, so we shortened it a bit. As I recall, there were no comments that stand out about the actual translations. The comments were more directed to the introduction, which they found rather prosaic, and, thinking about it, I would have to agree.

What kind of reception has the book received? How well has it been distributed?
We have received some comments here and there, but not much beyond that. That’s all right. We understood when we undertook the project that it would probably fill a lacuna for a small group of people. We do hope, though, that professors may bring some of her poems into their classrooms.

What place do you think Rosalía de Castro occupies in world literature today?
I believe that Rosalía de Castro occupies a place that is edging closer to that of Emily Dickinson, her U.S. contemporary with whom she shares numerous thematic and stylistic points of contact. These two women were philosopher-poets who pondered and felt deeply.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Rosalía Translators – Interview with Michael Smith


To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication in Vigo of Rosalía de Castro’s Galician Songs, recently published in English for the first time, we continue our series of interviews with the editors/translators of the three anthologies of Rosalía’s Galician and Spanish poetry available in English.

Today is the interview with Michael Smith, who edited and translated Rosalía de Castro’s Selected Poems for Shearsman Books in 2007. We will be publishing a poem Michael wrote for Rosalía Day, ‘The Poet Out of Time & Place’, this Sunday on this blog.

What made you want to translate work by Rosalía de Castro?
I had come across her name in various books on feminism, but, when I went to look for her poems, I found that these were unavailable or had been poorly translated or were in a dated English. The best I found were the translations by the Scottish poet Edwin Morgan (which still seem to me to read well). Besides that, I was aware of her role in reviving Galician, which has a great deal in common with the Irish experience of reviving poetry in Gaelic after many years of marginalisation and neglect. I also felt that the feminists who wrote about Rosalía seemed more concerned with feminism than with the poetry. At any rate, I felt that Rosalía deserved decent recognition in English. I might also add that, as an Irish poet, I felt a deep affinity with the Galician background. That affinity was very helpful in empathising with Rosalía’s work.

How difficult was it to find a publisher? Who made the initial contact, you or the publisher?
I initiated the project, but I had no difficulty in finding a publisher. Tony Frazer of Shearsman Books had already published many of my translations from Spanish and, once I had sent him my small anthology of Rosalía’s work, he immediately agreed to publish it.

Which edition of Rosalía de Castro’s texts did you use?
I used the Obras completas in two volumes, edited by Marina Mayoral (Madrid: Turner, Biblioteca Castro, 1993).

What were the main criteria you used in your selection?
My main criteria were the quality of the poems and the possibility of their being translated into an English that was readable and pleasurable and at the same time faithful to their originals, at least in the sense that any translation can be ‘faithful’ to its original.

Was there a difference between translating texts from Galician and Spanish?
Now, I don’t know Galician, but with the help of Spanish literal translations and the help of two Galician friends, José Manuel Estévez Saá and Margaret Estévez Saá, I was able to cope comfortably enough with the Galician. Two Spanish friends of mine, Luis Huerga and my longtime co-translator from Spanish, Luis Ingelmo, were extremly helpful in checking my translations of the poems in Spanish.

Did you receive any input from the publisher – did they comment on the translation or did they limit themselves to publishing the book?
Tony Frazer was extremely pleased with the book and gave it an unreserved acceptance.

What kind of reception has the book received? How well has it been distributed?
I honestly don’t know how well the book was received, but four of my translations have been included in the prestigious Norton Anthology of World Literature, so clearly the book has not been ignored.

What place do you think Rosalía de Castro occupies in world literature today?
Although not quite in the same league as Emily Dickinson, Rosalía should rank with Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Christina Rossetti and (as a poet) Emily Brontë.

One last thing. I am hoping to persuade some good bilingual Irish poet to translate Rosalía’s poetry into Gaelic. Her work would find a very sympathetic acceptance in that language.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rosalía Translators – Interview with Anna-Marie Aldaz


This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication in Vigo of Rosalía de Castro’s Galician Songs, the cornerstone of modern Galician literature and recently published in English for the first time in Erín Moure’s translation by Small Stations Press and Xunta de Galicia.

To celebrate this fact, we have conducted interviews with the editors/translators of the three anthologies of Rosalía’s Galician and Spanish poetry available in English. These are Poems (1991), edited and translated by Anna-Marie Aldaz, Barbara N. Gantt and Anne C. Bromley; Selected Poems (2007), edited and translated by Michael Smith; and The Poetry and Prose of Rosalía de Castro (2010), edited and translated by John P. Dever and Aileen Dever. A fourth anthology, now only available second-hand, is Poems of Rosalía de Castro (1964), edited by Xosé Filgueira Valverde and translated by Charles David Ley.

We start with Anna-Marie Aldaz, who kindly agreed to answer the following questions:

What made you want to translate work by Rosalía de Castro?
While attending an American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) conference, my friend and colleague Barbara Gantt and I came across an announcement by the State University of New York (SUNY) asking for submissions for its series Women Writers in Translation. After some discussion, we decided that Rosalía de Castro would be an excellent candidate because we felt that she was too little known in the English-speaking world.

How difficult was it to find a publisher? Who made the initial contact, you or the publisher?
We submitted our proposal to SUNY, where it was met with great interest by the series editor. Even so, it took time and effort to clear the path to acceptance.

There were three of you translating this book. How did you share the workload?
After selecting the poems we wanted to translate, Barbara and I divided the task. We met frequently to read each other’s translations and revise them. When we were finally satisfied with our versions, we asked another friend, the poet Anne Bromley, to read and critique them. After a discussion of her suggestions, we came up with what would be the final version.

Which edition of Rosalía de Castro’s texts did you use?
The edition we used – Rosalía de Castro, Obras completas. 7th ed. (Madrid: Aguilar, 1982) – was the latest one available at the time we worked on the poems (the late 1980s). It includes the original selections by Victoriano García Martí and additional ones by Arturo del Hoyo.

What were the main criteria you used in your selection?
Since our main aim was to make Rosalía better known in the English-speaking world, we chose relatively short, mostly lyrical poems from her three major books (Cantares gallegos, Follas novas and En las orillas del Sar), hoping this sampler would illustrate her innovative style, pervasive moods and recurrent themes.

Was there a difference between translating texts from Galician and Spanish?
The Galician texts were at times linguistically more challenging, but we felt that many of the poems Rosalía wrote in her native language best captured her most intimate thoughts and deeply felt emotions.

Did you receive any input from the publisher – did they comment on the translation or did they limit themselves to publishing the book?
We did not receive any comments on the translation. However, since our book was part of a series, there were definite guidelines regarding the format. This meant that, much to our chagrin, our book could not be a bilingual edition.

What kind of reception has the book received? How well has it been distributed?
Though overall favorable, the initial critical reception was fairly low-key, but some recent studies have seen our book as groundbreaking. Around 250 libraries hold a copy and, given that SUNY had the foresight of digitalizing our book soon after its publication in 1991, the book can also be accessed online from over 500 libraries worldwide.

What place do you think Rosalía de Castro occupies in world literature today?
It is gratifying to see that Rosalía’s stature has continued to increase steadily over the years and that she is now rightfully recognized as one of the outstanding figures in world literature.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Claudio Rodríguez Fer’s Tender Tigers


This year saw the publication of Claudio Rodríguez Fer’s Tender Tigers (Tigres de ternura) in a bilingual Galician-English edition by Editorial Toxosoutos. The English translation is by Kathleen March and is accompanied by illustrations by Kathleen’s daughter, Kimberleigh Martul-March.



An up-to-date list of books of Galician literature published in English can be consulted here.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Anthology of Galician Literature 1981-2011

This month sees the publication of Jonathan Dunne’s Anthology of Galician Literature 1981-2011, a companion volume to the earlier Anthology of Galician Literature 1196-1981.

While the earlier volume was intended to give an overview of the history of Galician literature up to the present day, this second volume aims to introduce the English-language reader to contemporary Galician writers. Sixty texts by sixty different writers ranging from Xavier Alcalá to Domingo Villar, passing through more established names such as Chus Pato and Manuel Rivas, and including younger names such as Oriana Méndez and Daniel Salgado, present the genres of adult and children’s fiction, poetry, drama and essay in a bilingual Galician-English edition. In the case of living authors, all the texts were chosen by the authors themselves; thirty-nine of the texts date from the twenty-first century, making this volume highly up-to-date.

It is hoped that this book will enable the interested reader to access some of the best of what is being written in the Galician language today.

Anthology of Galician Literature 1981-2011 is edited and translated by Jonathan Dunne, with additional translations by Roy Boland, Erín Moure and Sonia Soto, and published by Edicións Xerais de Galicia and Editorial Galaxia in collaboration with the Xunta de Galicia. A list of the contents is to be found here.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Forked Tongues


Today sees the publication by Shearsman Books of a volume of Galician, Basque and Catalan women’s poetry in translations by Irish writers, which has been edited by Manuela Palacios, associate professor of English literature at Santiago University (Manuela also co-edited with Mary O’Donnell an anthology of Galician women poets, To the Winds Our Sails, with translations into English and Irish).

The five Galician poets included in Forked Tongues are Pilar Pallarés, Chus Pato, Lupe Gómez Arto, Yolanda Castaño and María do Cebreiro, who have been translated by five Irish writers, Maurice Harmon, Lorna Shaughnessy, Anne Le Marquand Hartigan, Máighréad Medbh and Mary O’Donnell respectively. The Galician poets are accompanied by four Basque and four Catalan poets.

Shearsman Books is one of the main publishers in the UK of poetry in translation and has published six books of Galician poetry, three by Chus Pato and one each by Rosalía de Castro, María do Cebreiro and Manuel Rivas.

It is possible to see the contents and read Manuela’s introduction here. Congratulations to all involved!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Three New Galician Books in English


Three new books of Galician literature are published in the space of twenty days, bringing the total number of books of Galician literature published in English to 45 (just two years ago, at the start of 2010, there were 31). A full list of Galician titles in English can be consulted here. It includes twelve novels and fourteen individual poetry collections (as opposed to group anthologies).

Last Friday saw the publication of On a Bender, Craig Patterson's translation of A esmorga by Eduardo Blanco Amor, published by Planet Books. An interview with Craig is available on this blog.


15 April sees the publication of The Disappearance of Snow, Lorna Shaughnessy's translation of Manuel Rivas' A desaparición da neve, published by Shearsman Books, who also publish Rosalía de Castro, Chus Pato and María do Cebreiro. A selection of Rivas' earlier collected poems, From Unknown to Unknown, came out in 2009.

And 20 April sees the third title in the series Galician Classics published by Small Stations Press - Long Night of Stone in Jack Hill's English translation.

Translators crossing lines, sewing wounds, so that grass grows where the scar was.

Friday, March 30, 2012

On a Bender

Today sees the publication by Planet Books of Eduardo Blanco Amor's classic novel A esmorga, translated into English as On a Bender by Craig Patterson. Craig, who is lecturer at Cardiff University and president of the International Association of Galician Studies, kindly agreed to give the following interview about the book and his translation.

What is On a Bender?
On a Bender is my translation of Eduardo Blanco Amor's 1959 novel in Galician A esmorga. The novel centres upon the main character Cibrán's account of an extended spree of drinking and shenanigans in Auria, an imaginary transposition of Ourense. The novel's psychological depth lies in the way Cibrán retells events to the police and in his attempts to save his own skin by prolonging the narrative and distorting events and details. The novel is constantly rated in surveys by Galicians as their favourite of all time, so it has been an honour to work on the English version which will hopefully contribute to Galicia's international cultural profile.


What's this business about the book being censored? Do we now have the original as the author intended?
The manuscript of A esmorga was taken to Galicia from Argentina by Isaac Díaz Pardo on behalf of Blanco Amor at the end of 1955 and handed to the Galician-language publisher Galaxia, which then began the process of submitting it to the Francoist censor. The first attempt at publication in Galicia in 1956 failed because the text was rejected on the grounds of its expletive language rather than for political reasons. After some further difficulties, Blanco Amor followed a course familiar to many writers who could not get their work past the gatekeepers of the dictatorship's moral and religious codes and sought publication in Latin America. A esmorga appeared in Buenos Aires on 3 April 1959. The novel was submitted to the censor on two further occasions in 1969 in a new attempt to get it published in Galicia. Although the literary quality of the work was praised on this occasion, it was nonetheless cut in five places in order to suppress criticism of authority, including the reference at the end to the possible causes of the protagonist's death (at the hands of the Civil Guard). It was finally published in Galician in December 1970. In 2010 Galaxia published a restored version which retained the five fragments suppressed by the censor over forty years earlier. If anybody wants to learn more about the history of the novel's publication history and the censorship it encountered, then they should consult Xosé Manuel Dasilva's excellent study "As vicisitudes editoriais d'A esmorga" (Grial 184, pp. 36-51).

I am delighted to say that On a Bender will be the first translation of the restored novel by Blanco Amor into any language. Luís González Tosar told me recently that Blanco Amor had hoped that his most well-known novel would be translated into English one day and I am honoured to have been a part of this endeavour.

What does a piss-up set in the nineteenth century have to do with the global crisis?
The novel is about what ordinary people do in extraordinary circumstances and also how they cope with those circumstances, warts and all. It's about what people with nothing do to make their lives worth living. So there is some universality there. There is greater contemporary resonance, however, in the novel's treatment of the relationship between the mainstream and the periphery, between the conventional, the marginal and the marginalised, between conformity and being true to one's own identity, however flawed we may be as human beings. Also the novel deals with the relationship between a repressive authority and possible criminality or social deviance. All of these factors held great relevance for Blanco Amor at the time of the novel's publication, given that he was a homosexual writer producing the work in exile when the Franco dictatorship was firmly in power in Spain and Galician culture just beginning to emerge, if only in a fragmented way, from the bleak period that followed the Spanish Civil War. But in the same way the novel can still travel across cultural specificity today, in our times, when decades of progress in terms of social welfare, mobility and inclusion seem to be being rolled back at an alarming rate, when economic inequality in the form of bankers' bonuses and levels of unemployment are never higher and when we must question more than ever the discourse imposed upon us by superstructure, be that a government, the media or advertising. For me one of the many essential truths of the novel is: together we stand, divided we fall. That may mean something for us today and for our need for solidarity in the face of disaster capitalism and shock doctrine on both a large and smaller, everyday scale that challenges our serenity.

What were some of the peculiarities of translating this book?
I can think of four peculiarities: two general and two specific.

The first general peculiarity was of course deciphering and translating the heavily colloquial Ourensan Galician in which the narrator-protagonist relates the events that supposedly took place during the notorious bender, in a style which reflects his struggle to surpass his own cultural, educational and social condition. Translating that strand of Galician in general was extremely challenging. The second was that of trying to emulate or capture the voice of a narrator-protagonist who is not educated to a great degree, but who nevertheless shows occasional lyrical flourishes and a creative tendency in his exposition. So register had to remain mid to low whilst at the same time almost reaching higher levels now and again.

In addition there were two specific cases relating to vocabulary. One of these was the translation of the Galician noun follateira. The search for the meaning behind the term went on for some time and, to cut a long story short and after many linguistic trials and tribulations, friends reminded me that Blanco Amor himself defines the term in his novel La catedral y el niño as "misteriosa fiesta de Auria, reminiscencia, quizás, de cultos báquicos del latino colonizador". This of course led to a new challenge: how to reduce that down to a term without the recourse to a footnote, textual or otherwise. I opted for "those drunken fiestas that go back to old Auria".

The other principal linguistic challenge encountered was the phrase fóra a ialma, which appears six times in the text. The expression has the equivalent grammatical value of the conjunction agás or excepto, expressing anomaly, exception or even contradiction. Its function is not semantic, but pragmatic and euphemistic and is employed when animals are compared with humans within a clearly Catholic socio-cultural context: its cultural specificity is rooted in the blasphemous connotations of such a comparison. For example it is still not uncommon today to hear the expression in regards to domestic animals such as cats and dogs when humans are compared to them or vice versa: "fóra alma e fé [os cans] son como a xente". In Catholic doctrine God created man in his own image and animals were doctrinally inferior. Therefore to suggest a person is like an animal is to offend the work and image of God and therefore blasphemous. This rhetorical exemption clause allows blasphemy to be avoided without excluding the recourse to animalisation through simile. It has an apologetic core that seeks to redress the overwhelmingly blasphemous essence that it conveys in a southern European socio-religious context.

In order to translate this specific and peculiar Galician idiom with no direct equivalent in English, I favoured retaining some its strangeness whilst attempting to render it as a seamless part of the dialogue and rhetoric of the narrator-protagonist, just as it functions in the Galician. I achieved this by consolidating and reinforcing the sense and lexicon of the original Galician so that it attained some idiomatic plausibility in English: "save for his/her/their blessed souls". By introducing the adjective "blessed", a liturgical and hallowed sense of spiritual exclusivity is retained, thereby emphasising the religious quality of the rhetorical device and reminding what will probably be a largely secular readership of its purpose, origin and cultural specificity. Furthermore this solution communicates the peculiarity or otherness of the source idiom precisely by highlighting its origins through an appeal in the English to archaic religious lexicon that evokes the pre-Reformation period.

The great irony is that A esmorga has been extremely challenging to translate, yet it is a relatively short novel. By comparison Castelao's sprawling masterwork Sempre en Galiza, which I am also translating, has been relatively straightforward in linguistic terms. The only challenge with that text is of course its length and the need to provide a critical edition for it. Watch this space.

Our congratulations to Craig and to Planet! The book can be ordered here.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Folks From Here and There


Today sees the publication by Small Stations Press of Folks From Here and There by Álvaro Cunqueiro in Kathleen March's new translation. This follows fifteen years after Everyman published Merlin and Company in Colin Smith's translation and is set to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the author's birth.

Kathleen March is well known for her work with Galician literature and in particular for her translation of an anthology of Galician short stories, Así vai o conto, and Circling by Ramón Otero Pedrayo. She is professor of Spanish at the University of Maine in the US, where she specialises in Galician, Latin American and Women's Studies.

This book is the second title in the series of Galician Classics created by the publisher Small Stations Press with the support of the Xunta de Galicia. The first title appeared in May this year and was the Collected Poems of Lois Pereiro.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Popescu Prize for Poetry in Translation


Two books of Galician poetry in English translation are among the 73 titles translated into English from twenty-five European languages nominated for the 2011 Popescu Prize.

The two Galician titles are: I Am Not from Here by María do Cebreiro, translated by Helena Miguélez-Carballeira (published by Shearsman Books in 2010) and the Collected Poems of Lois Pereiro, translated by Jonathan Dunne (published by Small Stations Press in 2011).

The Popescu Prize is awarded every two years and is administered by the UK Poetry Society and funded by the Ratiu Foundation. The winner of this year's prize, whose judges are Jane Draycott and Sasha Dugdale, will be announced in November.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Galician Poets in English


This week sees the publication in English of two books of Galician poetry. Shearsman Books publishes a third title by Chus Pato in Erín Moure's translation, Hordes of Writing, while Small Stations Press publishes the Collected Poems of Lois Pereiro (the subject of this year's Galician Literature Day on 17 May) in Jonathan Dunne's translation.


These two publications take the number of books of Galician literature published in English translation to 42. This list includes nineteen poetry titles and three mixed anthologies (poetry and prose). In December 2010, Poetry Review, the magazine of the Poetry Society, published a selection of Contemporary Galician Poets, which can be downloaded for free.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Interview with Neal Baxter

Neal Baxter was born in Shrewsbury, England, and studied Linguistics and French at York University. He later worked in the Diwan Breton language schools in Brittany. Since 1995 he has taught Interpreting at Vigo University, where he holds a doctorate in Translation Studies.

How did your involvement with Galicia come about?
My wife, who I met during my study year in Brittany, studied Spanish at Roazhon/Rennes University, which has contacts with Galiza and I went with her, variously with and without a grant, to attend the very first three years of Galizan language courses for foreigners organised by the Galician Language Institute in Santiago. After working for the Diwan Breton language schools for several years, we decided to make the move to Galiza, where we’d made a lot of friends who also introduced us both to the Galician Nationalist Bloc or BNG.


You’ve done a lot of work on the normal use of minority languages and genre/sexuality in translation. Where, in particular, is there a need to raise awareness?
My opinion pieces on Terra e Tempo Dixital deal mainly with the state of the Galizan language and militant atheism. The bulk of my academic research has, barring my dissertation, tended to centre on the place/portrayal of what could best be termed ‘socially marginalised’ groups (primarily wimin) within the context of ‘socially marginalised’ languages (mainly Galizan, but also touching on Welsh and Breton). Using this terminology perhaps helps to draw out how I see the two aspects as being related. As a believer in the impossibility of adopting a neutral stance on social questions within an objectively unbalanced context, my research is ‘engagé’ in the sense that I hope it helps contribute to change for the better, driven by the idea that the priority of preserving Galizan in the face of aggressive competition from Spanish does not require that other issues, such as the use of inclusive language to stimulate debate and explicitly highlight the role of wimin, need be disregarded as incompatible with this ‘higher’ aim. I am also pleased to see that this work has, in part at least, inspired students of mine to take their postgraduate research in that direction, notably with the recent PhD dissertation by Olga Castro, currently lecturing at Exeter University.

As a member of the Galician People’s Union or UPG’s Committee for International Relations, how do you view the role of a non-Galician in the context of Galician nationalism?
I joined the UPG and the BNG as well as the CIG trade union soon after I settled in Galiza. I am very proud of being a member of the UPG, having also served on the Local Committee, and would probably (and fairly) be described as a staunch upholder of the Party line. Although I’ve lived here so long, being a foreigner still provides you with the certain advantage of a perhaps more neutral or objective view of certain issues and a different way of thinking about them derived from a different cultural background. Having a native English-speaker and professional interpreter/translator is of course an asset when dealing with foreign delegations and when translating the International newsletter and press releases. Somewhat paradoxically perhaps I have been the language corrector for Terra e Tempo (official publication of the UPG) for several years because, as a non-native Galizan speaker who hasn’t formally learned any Spanish, it’s easier for me to spot interferences than it is for many Galizans.

How do you find living and raising a family in another culture? What are the specific challenges? And the dominant language at home?
I suppose we can’t pass on everything about Galizan culture directly but then again neither do a lot of Galizans… Fortunately we have a strong network of friends, almost all of whom are Galizan-speakers who provide additional input. My daughter never speaks Spanish with either of us at home and only speaks Galizan with certain friends, although Spanish dominates at school. The main home language is French, which I use with my wife. I only use English with my daughter, except on rare occasions where the situation would make it look as if we were deliberately excluding people, although I usually use English with her in front of friends, at BNG rallies, demonstrations, etc. It’s never even been commented upon, except to say how fortunate she is. We would like to have added Breton which she hears in the summer, but we thought four was enough for the time being.

Are you the Robert Neal Baxter who wrote a book called Chinese: That Marvellous Tongue (Joseph Biddulph, 1997)? What is the most curious language you’ve learned?
Yes, that’s me… At University, as part of the Linguistics course, we had to choose a new language out of Chinese, Hindi and Kiswahili. I dabbled in Yiddish years ago (which actually came in handy in Prague) and learned a bit of Nynorsk with Norwegian friends as university. I also did some Cornish in Brittany. More recently I had a go at isiZulu and isiXhosa (not much of a go really). I gave up Arabic after a while. My most recent interests have been Modern Greek, which I’ve been learning on and off for about four years, and Turkic languages, mainly Turkish and Azerbaijani. I have absolutely no Latin and no Ancient Greek!

Thank you for talking to us!