The residency of the Croatian Literary Translators’ Association for literary translators and writers is the result of years of effort to create a space in Zagreb welcoming both translators and writers: translators, as voices of Croatian authors in the world, and writers who are still looking for their translators as well as those whose works are being translated.
During their stay in the residency the guests will be introduced to their fellow translators and writers, to Croatian publishers and cultural and literary milieu in general, but they will also be granted an opportunity to delve into the everyday life of the Croatian capital and the local traditions. In the long run, this project aims at making a series of new cultural links and putting Zagreb on the map of the European network of residencies for translators.
Residency of the Croatian Literary Translators’ Association for literary translators and writers promotes and encourages cooperation with language institutes, language departments at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb, publishers, festivals and international networks for residential exchange. Part of the stay of our residents is dedicated to their work on the text which brought them to Zagreb, while the other part includes activities such as panel discussions with fellow translators and writers, workshops and masterclasses at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences as well as tandems with peers and guest appearances at literature festivals.
In 2022 nine translators and writers are to stay in the residency: Anita Vuco (Italy), Alida Bremer (Germany), Sara Latorre (Italy), Heidi Saevareid (Norway), Miłosz Waligórski (Poland), George Mario Angel Quintero (USA, Columbia), Olivier Lannuzel (France), Rusanka Liapova (Bulgaria) and Olja Alvir (Austria).
The project is funded by the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia.
The residency has its own blog where all the news regarding its activities are published, as well as residents’ poetic diaries about their time spent in Zagreb. Some of entries are in English and you can read them here.
March 2020: During the very first days of the COVID-19 crisis in Italy, a health care institution in Milan asked renowned children’s author Roberto Piumini to write something for youngsters that addressed the topic. This gave rise to a children’s rhyme that spoke about the Coronavirus in a gentle, lighthearted and caring manner.
After being posted on Facebook, the poem instantly spread and quickly went viral. So viral, in fact, that Italian translators’ associations STRADE and AITI together with CEATL (Conseil Européen des Associations de Traducteurs Littéraires), and FIT (International Federation of Translators), decided to expand the project on a global scale by launching the initiative, joyfully embraced by the BCBF (Bologna Children’s Bookfair), of translating the poem into a variety of different languages.
Over forty translators from all over the world enthusiastically volunteered to take part in the project, which formed a playful carousel of languages (English, French, Spanish, Galician, Catalan, Basque, Ladin, German, Russian, Dutch, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Czech, Swedish, Norwegian, Greek, Danish, Lithuanian, Afrikaans, Lesotho, Tshivenda, Kalanga, Hebrew, Polish, Slovenian, Croatian, Finnish, Turkish, Chinese, Arabic, Slovak, Hungarian, Quichua, Georgian) to be read and listened to. The BCBF also published an audio or video lecture of the translations and a short biography of the translators.
This linguistic merry-go-round is a virtuous example of best practices because of the synergy created between translators, translators’ associations from all over the world and an international children bookfair like BCBF.
And is a good example of the healing power of words, which thanks to the author and the translators involved, entered homes during a period of social isolation that was difficult for both children and adults.
As Roberto Piumini writes:
Words are presents, words are seeds,
they’re gifts that we have plenty of
and if they’re good they’re all we need,
when we’re apart, to grow our love.
Last but not least, the project demonstrates the delicate and enriching cultural and social function of translators in connecting different languages and different ways of living and thinking. As translator Mulalo Takalani member of SATI (South African Translators’ Institute) wrote: «I am so happy to be part of the team for the translation of “Is There Something In The Air” into my language Tshivenda, it puts Tshivenda language on the map».
A success story from Slovenia about the newly-established translation residency “Sovretov kabinet” ‒ “Sovre’s study” (Dol pri Hrastniku, Slovenia) run by the Slovenian Association of Literary Translators (DSKP).
In 2019, Marko Funkl, the newly-elected mayor of the Municipality of Hrastnik, offered DSKP a small renovated flat in the town of Dol pri Hrastniku to be used as a translation residency. The mayor himself has a background in translation and is very active in promoting culture in his municipality. Moreover, the Municipality of Hrastnik is the birth place of a renowned Slovenian classicist, Anton Sovre, after whom our best literary translation prize—the Sovre Prize—has been named. The local public library also bears his name.
The agreement between the municipality and our association has been that we can use the flat rent-free as long as we refurbish it ourselves and do the general maintenance work. Most of the furniture we bought new, some we received as donation from our members, and the mattress was donated by a local company that sells bedding and mattresses. At 48.45 m2, the flat has a living room and a bedroom, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a small storage room. There are a post office, a shop, a restaurant, a café, and a bus station close by, as well as a little cultural gem: the Zmajeva luknja (Dragon’s den) antiquarian bookshop, run by the Rast Association. It is a hub for literature aficionados and culture lovers in general. The local public library has donated a transferable membership card for our residents, as did the local public transport company.
The residency program was launched in 2020 and, because of to the COVID pandemic, it welcomed its first residents in June 2021. It is open to translators of literary, humanities and social sciences texts who have published at least two book-length translations. In selecting candidates, priority is given to translators translating from Slovenian, whose translation project will help promote Slovenian literature and humanities abroad. The purpose of the residency is to facilitate independent translation projects by individuals. Successful applicants commit to participating in at least one cultural event organised by DSKP. DSKP provides for their accommodation, a flat rate for travel expenses amounting to EUR 200 and an EUR 200 fee for participating in 1-2 events organised by DSKP.
The Association of Catalan Language Writers (AELC), in collaboration with the Ramon Lull Institute, inaugurated in 2021 a new innovative consultancy programme that will match literary translators working in the same language pair, one of which is Catalan, with the aim of improving the quality of translations from Catalan in other languages and vice versa.
Participants will benefit from the insight and the expertise of a peer and qualified native speaker of their source language throughout their work on their translation project. In addition, the programme seeks to build an international network of professional translators working with Catalan.
The hope is that this new experimental scheme will be picked up by other cultural institutions that support literary translations, helping not just improving the quality of translated literature but also develop collaborative communities of literary translators.
For more information on the programme itself, as well as on how to apply, please visit:
In literary translation mentoring and lifelong learning it is important to distinguish between the teaching of beginners and professional, peer-to-peer mentoring. There should be scientific criteria for the marking of students’ work, such as the use of an assessment grid showing different levels of error and attainment (eg. errors of anachronism, of rhythm etc.).
The PETRA-E Framework of Reference for lifelong education in Literary Translation maps the competences of literary translators and levels in the acquisition of those competences. It is based on the experiences of translators and trainers and has been developed for teaching and learning purposes. I aims to help teachers and institutes to create tools and programs to acquire these competences. For students, the Framework helps to detect ‘gaps’ in their training and education.
The Framework consists of five levels (from breakthrough to expert) and eight competences (translating, linguistic, textual, heuristic, literary-cultural, professional, evaluative and research ones) all of which are described in detail. To each level a certain mastery of each competence is assumed.
The Framework is available in Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Bulgarian.
Peer learning, residential seminars and Stammtisch
British Centre for Literary Translation Summer School – University of East Anglia (UK)
The annual BCLT Summer School brings together writers and translators for an intensive, one-week, residential programme of hands-on translation and creative writing practice.
For most language-specific workshops, groups have the unique opportunity to work on a collaborative translation with both the author in residence and the workshop leader. For translators working from any other languages there are two multilingual workshops, one for prose and one for theatre. These are designed for translators working from any language into English.
All workshops are designed to encourage collaboration and peer learning in a small group setting (maximum of 10-12 translators in a group).
During the week, the workshops are complemented by creative writing workshops for all participants and also plenary sessions, such as publishing panels and lectures.
Warwick Translates – Summer School at the University of Warwick (UK)
Warwick Translates offers the opportunity to translate texts across the literary genres into English, working with leading professional translators. Groups will be limited to a maximum of 20 students. The course is taught in an all-day workshop environment using a variety of texts including non-fiction (essays, journalism, academic) and fiction (poetry, fantasy, children’s literature and crime writing etc.). There are plenty of opportunities for networking with publishers, agents, Warwick staff and one another.
ViceVersa – peer-to-peer residential seminars
ViceVersa is a bilingual, peer-to-peer residential seminar for literary translators, which has been successfully carried out with translators working with several language combinations.
The ViceVersa Programme an international programme for the continuous training of literary translators working to and from German, was set up by Deutscher Übersetzerfonds and Robert Bosch Stiftung in 2011.
In 2015 a similar programme involving translators to and from Italian was established under the name of Laboratorio Italiano by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia and Translation House Looren. Such workshops are a unique opportunity for literary translators to meet their colleagues and tackle translation issues together in a constructive and friendly way.
Usually they have from 10 to 12 participants all working with the same couple of languages, half of them in one way and half in the other, meeting for a week. Each participant has the opportunity to present and discuss a three-page extract from one of their current translation projects and ask for inputs from the colleagues to solve translation problems.
The aim of such workshops is not to evaluate a translator’s job, but rather to encourage lively discussion among colleagues based on actual practice.
AITI (Italy) continuing professional development
Continuing professional development is recognised to be essential for translators.
As to art. 7 of AITI Statute and art. 11 of Deontological code, each member has the duty to keep updated, study and learn as part of her/his professional development and growth, no matter the age.
The Association has established a three years programme with a detailed grid of reference to get a minimum number of credits. If an ordinary member failed in getting the minimum number of credits, he or she will be temporarily downgraded to the aggregate category for the following three years.
Members send their documentation to the national Commission for Training and Learning through a simple, automatic form.
Members who have an institutional, active role in the Association will get credits for their work.
Many of CEATL’s member associations hold regular meetings (the third Friday of every month, for example) to discuss matters relating to the profession – working conditions, contracts and so on; to share information about publishers and fees; or to talk about translation matters. The term ‘Stammtisch’ refers to the table reserved for regular customers in German pubs.
Meeting in given place regularly (for example the third Friday of every month) to discuss matters pertaining to profession – working conditions, contracts etc. ; share information on publishers and fees; or talk about translation matters.
Translators meet and discuss different issues concerning the profession, organised per language combinations and topics; participants bring food and drinks. Organised by AITI and Strade at Laboratorio Formentini in Milan, Italy
Translators meet to discuss problems they have encountered in translation from any language
Group therapy for literary translators at the Christmas Book Fair in Catalonia. This is a public event. Participants always start by: “My name is NN., and I am a translator.” They then go on to present a specific translation problem, which is subsequently solved by the other participants – or the audience.
AITI (Italy) organised a National Open Doors Day in May 12 2018. This was the first time that this kind of event was held nationally on the same day.
AITI has 12 regional branches and 1220 members among technical translators, interpreters and literary translators.
There was a slide presentation about the association and how to apply for membership and a few testimonies of ordinary members. Silvia Musa presented the Calcolareddito (an instrument to calculate your revenue) and then there was a little party with refreshments. A questionnaire was distributed and on a total of 462 participants, there were 233 replies, which is a pretty good result.
The AITI Open Doors Day in numbers:
Total partecipants 462:
Non members 165
The key words that emerged from the Open Doors Day were: awareness – professional competence – networking – information – sharing – collegiality – competences – knowledge – exchange – syntony – affinity – partecipation.
AITI transmitted the idea of an association with a strong vocation for team working and a friendly and welcoming climate. An association which is coherent and determined to pursue its common goals.
After this kind of event, the follow up is very important : contacting non members and students participants and checking how many candidates applied for membership.
In 2017, the Polish association STL made a series of short YouTube videos, in which members shared why they were part of the association. Even though they all had different reasons, they mostly talked about the social aspect of being part of an organisation of this kind, as well as about the opportunities for help and exchanging information, and being educated on and assisted with the legal aspects of the profession. They shared one video a week on their YouTube channel and their Facebook page, which did result in new memberships.
STL also has secured considerable discount for its members at a very good Warsaw law firm specialised in copyright, affordable health insurance and even a fitness card. Where the health insurance is concerned, STL was invited to join an existing initiative by a fellow association. The whole group consists of members of several different types of authors’ associations, such as translators, journalists, graphic artists, musicians, and photographers, and they have all signed with one of the largest private medical companies in the country at a considerable discount. The initiators of the idea even negotiated a package tailored to the needs of workers in the creative industries.
Translation: Dorota Konwrocka-Sawa, I translate from English. I’ve been a member of the Polish Literary Translators Association for a year. Before, I worked a journalist in a weekly magazine for many years. When I started working exclusively as a literary translator I realized that what I missed the most was my editorial team, a group of friendly people I met every day, who helped me solve different professional problems and who did what I did. I was hoping I would meet such a group of people in the Polish Literary Translators Association – and I was right. I found it. I meet them every day on the literary translators’ forum on Facebook, I meet them once a month, or sometimes more often, at translators’ breakfasts, translators’ dinners, sometimes I manage to simply get them go to the cinema with me. What’s important for me is that I’m in constant contact with a group of people who are friendly towards one another, who aren’t really in competition, even though we all compete for commissions from the same publishers, but who help one another every day, looking for quotations, trying to come up with the best equivalents from idioms, to figure out the full meaning of a sentence; who, just like me, want the translated text to be the best it can be.
Translation: My name is Rafał Lisowski, I’ve been a member of STL for 4 or 5 years. What this membership has given me is the feeling that in our seemingly lonely book translator’s profession we are far from alone, that we are a professional community with similar needs and problems, that we can count on one another, and together, when we are numerous, we can achieve more, get more done, we can learn something. Myself, I’ve learned a lot about law, about negotiating, about the book market, and I also have the feeling I can do something for others in STL and outside of it. I’ve also met a lot of great people, brilliant translators who, when it come to translation itself, can help me out and I can help them out. That’s fantastic and I think it hold a lot of promise for the future.