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Progress In Translation - New Initiatives for and by Literary Translators

This session will look at how the career of the literary translator as we know it has been changing over the last year through new opportunities, working models and self-initiated sidelines. Coming together to discuss the significance, importance and, in some cases, necessity of these new developments will be British Library Translator in Residence Jen Calleja, Ruth Clarke of new translation collective The Starling Bureau, and a member of Shadow Heroes, a project bringing translation into...


Opening Plenary

This plenary panel will examine the UK’s changing demographics, and what they might tell us about who translators are and where we might find them. How has the make-up of our cities changed? Will translators of the future be drawn mostly from second-generation urban immigrants rather than(as in the past) primarily anglophones with modern languages degrees? Will Brexit make things worse, or better? How well is the diversity of our contemporary culture currently reflected in the translation...


Kingdom Of Twilight

On 13 February 2017, German writer Steven Uhly discussed his new book, a thrilling epic novel of resettlement, with the translator of the English version, Jamie Bulloch. Featuring: Jamie Bulloch and Steven Uhly. Wanderlust: Great Literature from Around the World is a monthly event series from Free Word. Listen to writers and translators from around the world and hear them talk about their creative work. To explore the Wanderlust events and books we've held so far, click here:...


Dragonworld: Four Short Stories from China

On 12 December 2016, Read Paper Republic hosted an evening of speed-book clubbing at Free Word Centre on contemporary fantasy fiction from China. We asked people to read the short stories before the event, and come along to share their thoughts and questions with translators. Featuring translators Nicky Harman, Dave Haysom, Emily Jones and Helen Wang. Wanderlust: Great Literature from Around the World is a monthly event series at Free Word. To explore the Wanderlust events we’ve held so...


Arguing with Reality

How have political ideologies and crises impacted families throughout history? With new austerity measures under discussion, a refugee problem continuing, the aftermath of the Brexit vote and more to come, it is one the most relevant questions today. How do writers reflect these pressures in characters, in their work? And how do they engage with alleged realities when creating fictional versions of their own? On 18 October 2016 novelists Benjamin Markovits and Joanna Kavenna came together...


A Nordic Noir – Thomas Rydahl’s The Hermit

On 10 October 2016, Danish writer Thomas Rydahl brought his extraordinary debut crime novel The Hermit - translated by K. E. Semmel - to Free Word Centre and discussed the themes of the book with Dr Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen. Set in Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands, the novel's unlikely hero, a 67 year old ex-pat Danish taxi driver, is caught up in a dangerous web of corruption and murder. Wanderlust: Great Literature from Around the World is a monthly event series at Free Word:...


Northern Lights - Voices from the Arctic

Poetry, performance and film to begin Highlight Arctic, a year-long multi-arts festival from and about the circumpolar North. Featuring Niillas Holmberg, a Sámi poet, musician, actor and activist and Jessie Kleemann, and Inuit poet and performance artist. The two films screened at this event were Pitaqangittuq (2010 – Dir. Guillaume Ittukssarjuat Saladin, Félix Pharand D., Nicolas Tardif) and Hollow Earth (2014 – Dir. Tanya Busse & Emilija Skarnulyte). This event was presented by Highlight...


Body Politic 2016: Freedom of Movement

How does a climate of censorship affect art? There are different ways of not being allowed to speak. Artists discuss how issues of censorship are reflected in their art. How does censorship affect the language of the body? Are there things we cannot say, even when not using language? Body Politic is Dance Umbrella’s strand of discussions and debates focusing on key cultural issues affecting dance and performance. This was a Dance Umbrella initiative, presented in partnership with Free...


At Home in Language?

Multilingual writers Vanni Bianconi, Xiaolu Guo and Bohdan Piasecki discuss linguistic mixing and matching, identifying (or not)with a language and self-translation.


Closing Plenary: Translation Through the Looking Glass

What does sign language literature look like? What qualities does sign language poetry have? And what challenges might lie in trying to translate a visual, gestural, dynamic, three-dimensional literature? Can the page capture it? This session took us deep into the wondrous world of sign language poetry, and introduced some of the curious forms of translation that might lurk there.


What Multilingual Creativity Means for Translators

There are now over 1 million pupils in UK schools who speak English as an additional language (EAL). Languages no longer live neatly side-by-side, but rather mix and mingle. This has thrown up new hybrid ways of using language. Participants explored what this means for translators and heard about the creative opportunities this multilingualism affords.


Publisher's Armchair

What happens after you successfully place a book with a publisher? This session aimed to give publishers the chance to explain the editorial stage and other practicalities from their point of view, providing a unique chance to learn what publishers wish translators knew about their side of the business.


Current State of Translation In Higher Education

Historically, literary translation featured in Higher Education mainly as an undergraduate language-learning method. More recently, many universities have developed master's degrees in translation that reflect the rapid development of CAT tools and the rise of Translation Studies as an academic discipline. But the role of literary translation in this context is less clear. We examined the changing role of literary translation within academia, focusing in particular on the interface between...


Alternative Routes To Publication

Is self-publishing feasible for translators? When writers choose to self-publish, their voice becomes their brand but as translators speak in many voices they need a different approach. We explored some of the options open to self-publishing translators - hybrid or alternative publishing solutions , co-operations, crowd funding and personal projects, amongst others.


Translation Masterclass

A focused session with one of the shortlisted translators for the 2016 Man Booker International Prize sharing their experience, practice and advice with reference to projects past and present.


Splithead - 12.9.16 Edited

On 12 September 2016, Austrian author Julya Rabinowich joined us at Free Word Centre to read from her novel 'Splithead' - translated by Tess Lewis - and share her thoughts on Europe. Splithead is a tale of what happens when East meets West for one family. It is a novel about exile, new departures and dead ends. Julya was joined in conversation by Dr Áine McMurtry, lecturer in German at King’s College London. Wanderlust: Great Literature from Around the World is a monthly event series at...


Wordsmiths: Yeonmi Park

Yeonmi Park, a human rights activist originally from North Korea, talked to us about her favourite word: 'love'.


Stories of Each Other

On 22 June 2016, Free Word, in association with Counterpoints Arts and Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants, presented a read-a-thon and panel discussion with writers, poets and newly arrived communities. For a full list of speakers and to see videos from this event, visit our blog: This event was part of Refugee Week 2016 as well as Unravelling Europe:


Illiberal Democracy: The Future of Freedom

On 15 June 2016, Free Word, in partnership with Index on Censorship, presented a panel discussion on the future of freedom in Europe with cultural figures from Hungary, Poland and Turkey. This event featured philosopher Agnes Heller (Hungary); novelist Elif Shafak (Turkey), who has written on Europe for Free Word and writes for the Guardian on the political situation in Turkey; and poet Adam Zagajewski (Poland), author of ‘A defence of ardour’. The event also featured a performance by Alix...


An Ode to Storytelling: Translating ‘The Book of Pearl’

On 13 June 2016, Walker Books presented the imaginative adventure story 'The Book of Pearl' at Free Word Centre. We welcomed its internationally acclaimed author, Timothée de Fombelle, who was in conversation with his translators Sarah Ardizzone and Sam Gordon to discuss his journey in creating the story, and theirs in bringing it to life in English. This event was chaired by Joy Court. Wanderlust: Great Literature from Around the World is a monthly event series at Free Word. Join us on...