Heim taught at UCLA and chaired its Slavic languages department. He translated about a dozen languages and helped bring the work of Milan Kundera, Gunter Grass and Roberto Bolaño to English readers. See Los Angeles Times article.
The Fall issue of Source focuses on TRANSLATION AND THE ARTS.
Part I of the two-issue focus on this topic features an in-depth article by Erik Camayd-Freixas on his experience “Translating María la O,” a classic Cuban zarzuela, for the Chicago Chamber Opera; Tony Beckwith’s sensuous prose poem about the translator and his “mistress,” the all-night translation assignment; and Diane Goullard Parlante’s amusing two-piece look at the “Surprising Mélange” of Art and Translation, the second part of which is a punny peek at the “Price of Gas in France.”
The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) will be meeting this year at the Pasadena Hilton Hotel in sunny Pasadena, California, November 11-14 (note the new dates!). Featured speakers will be John Nathan of UC Santa Barbara, Ilan Stavans of Amherst, and Michael Henry Heim of UCLA, whose work is associated with Japan, Latin America, and Europe, respectively. For information on panels, workshops, readings, special events, and registration, go to the ALTA website.
In observance of World in Translation Month, the American Literary Translation Association (ALTA) has created a poster that contains a quotation from scholar, theologian, and bibliophile Miles Smith (1554-1624), known for his mastery of Biblical languages. Smith was an integral participant in the translation and publication of the King James Version of the Bible. Download the poster (pdf), print up a couple, and post them on your favorite bulletin boards.
Beginning literary translators may now apply for travel funds to attend the 2008 conference of the American Literary Translators Association in Minneapolis/St.Paul, Minnesota, on October 15–18. To apply, send a letter that includes the applicant’s curriculum vitae, ten double-spaced pages of translation into English, and the original foreign language text to:
ALTA Travel Fellowship Award c/o UTDallas 800 W. Campbell Road – JO51 Richardson, TX 75020-3021 Attention: Lindy Jolly
Application deadline is May 15.
At the meeting on Saturday (Jan 5), during the announcements, I announced the passing of our colleague and friend, Leslie Willson. I quoted from Mike Conner’s earlier posting and to some extent from the obituary in the paper, which gave a few insights into Leslie’s life.
His story reminds us of the myriad ways in which translators find their languages and their destiny: World War II interrupted Leslie’s plans for a writing career and he left the University of Texas to join the army, where he discovered he had a gift for German, in which he soon became fluent. He was later assigned to a top secret operation known only by its mailing address “P. O. Box 1142” where he and others used their language skills to great effect in the war effort.
That sounds like a blurb for a great movie, one of those black-&-white ones with steely-jawed men in fedoras and women who always used a really long cigarette holder, dahling! In his photo, Leslie looks as though he starred in his own movie – which sounds like one definition of a happy life.
When I finished reading about him, I asked the old question: Where do old translators go? And it occurred to me that old translators never die because they live on in their works. Not just in literary translations of books and poems, but in the countless documents of all kinds that translators work on day to day. The manuals and labels and patents and contracts. The signs and forms and letters and birth certificates. The brochures and instructions and warnings and all the fine print that nobody ever reads.
All those words were one day invoked by a translator and thenceforth entered the canon of their time and space as the issue of their creators – as the fruit of their lives, the essence of their very own synthesis, an expression of their being. Translators make the world a little more understandable, which is an honorable occupation. Leslie Willson did, and we salute him for it.
Among many accomplishments, he served for eight years as chairman of the German Department at UT-Austin, and for 20 years he edited Dimension, a groundbreaking bilingual literary magazine dedicated to the presentation of contemporary German-language authors. He was a co-founder and first president (1978–1979) of the American Literary Translators Association. He also served as president of the American Translators Association (1991–1993). He was recognized for his scholarly work with awards from the Goethe Institute and German government. An obituary appeared in the Austin American-Statesman.
Much of the day-to-day work of interpreters is performed in courtrooms, at meetings, and in medical examining rooms. But occasionally they work in the public spotlight. At the next AATIA member meeting, Tony Beckwith will talk about interpreting the Democratic Presidential Candidate Debates for Univision Television Network.
In addition, Michele Aynesworth and Liliana Valenzuela will report highlights from the recent ALTA conference. According to Director for Membership Maurine McLean, the meeting will include updates on the AATIA website and previews of upcoming workshops, as well as door prizes, refreshments, and networking. Newcomers welcome!
Next AATIA member meeting: 1:00 p.m., January 5, 2008, Austin History Center (9th and Guadalupe) Note: due to scheduling conflicts the meeting will be held the first Saturday in January instead of the regular date.