Two Words: The Blog of the Center for the Art of Translation

Your Summer News Roundup

Posted on July 8, 2014, 03:58:00 PM by Erin Branagan

You can only think so much about movies and the World Cup, so we've put together a roundup of education and literature-related items for these midsummer days.

It's too early to think about school again, but it's a good day when a city announces more funding for the arts. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has just pledged $23 million to boost arts instruction and hire more than 100 teachers, concentrating on underserved schools.

While California's arts funding can't compare to New York's or many other states, the Legislature just approved a budget that includes a $5 million increase to the California Arts Council budget.

And a strapped school district found a creative way to fund their recently eliminated music program and projects to save about $750,000 over the next five years.

Upgrade your beach reading with this article about how literature influenced the evolution of modern medicine.

Science fiction your thing? Ever wondered about diversity in the genre? NPR's Latino USA did a great segment on Diversity in Fantasy and Sci-Fi.

And it just wouldn't be summer without some mention of movies, but with a translation twist: A Freelance Career, Found in Translation.

photo by Niamh

It's National Poetry Month!

Posted on April 21, 2014, 01:34:00 PM by Erin Branagan

Just in time for the celebration, we heard that three Poetry Inside Out student poets are finalists in the 19th annual international River of Words contest for environmental art and poetry by young people. The awards ceremony will be at Saint Mary’s College on Sunday, June 15.

Besides getting an introduction to poetry from around the world and learning to translate poems, Poetry Inside Out students get the chance to use their imaginations and write original poetry. These lessons are so different from most of their school day that the program can make a huge difference in their lives.

Recently one of our teaching artists told us a story about one of her kids, “a boy who was constantly getting up out of his seat, dancing around the classroom, or talking loudly with the boy next to him about video games. When approached, he refused to attempt any sort of writing.” It turns out that this boy’s dad had recently gone to prison. Over the next few lessons the instructor noticed that he listened more closely than the other students. She saw that when he refused to do something, if she approached him quietly and said “I think you should do this”, he did. He wrote poem after poem, many sad.

“It made me realize how writing could be an important emotional outlet for him, and how much he could benefit from my translating his ‘no’ into a ‘please.’”

In the spirit of National Poetry Month, and to celebrate our amazing and gutsy student writers, here are a few of their poems:


I am not myself
I am like a shadow that sees me
when I speak
He stands tall when I move
When I talk he talks
but silently so I cannot hear him
He speaks up for me
just like I do for you
and we talk but he doesn’t talk to me
All he does is watch
All I see is fear
All I can hear is my big heart pounding
like a big thunderstorm
He likes to steer, I like to ride
the fastest roller coaster
He likes to watch everywhere I go

Daybreak Mouse

That daybreak mouse
with hovering birds
tells me that I should
dance and sing

We are humans that
are alive on this earth
we stand here
and rejoice and sing

Job Opening: Poetry Inside Out Research & Curriculum Director

Posted on April 14, 2014, 10:10:00 AM by Mark Hauber

The Center’s Poetry Inside Out education program is looking for a part-time Research & Curriculum Director. The Research & Curriculum Director is responsible for the development, administration, oversight, and evaluation of Poetry Inside Out methodology and lesson plans; charged with implementing the professional development program, and will lead research on local, state, and national educational objectives.

Interested? Read more here.

Introducing Our New Executive Director Michael Holtmann

Posted on April 8, 2014, 01:14:00 PM by Erin Branagan

Happy Spring! In keeping with this season of new beginnings, we wanted to share an exciting update: Michael Holtmann recently joined the Center as our new Executive Director.

Michael joins us from Washington, DC, where he was most recently Program Manager at the National Endowment for the Arts. He oversaw The Big Read, the national community reading program, Poetry Out Loud, the national poetry recitation contest; and Shakespeare in American Communities, the national theater touring program. He has also worked at the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Angelika Film Center.

Michael is a passionate champion of literature in translation and he is looking forward to getting to know our community of readers, translators, authors, teachers, and students. If you live in the Bay Area, you’ll have a chance to meet him at one of our upcoming events, or feel free to get in touch at mholtmann (at)

5/17: Translation Workshop with Denise Newman

Posted on March 17, 2014, 02:19:00 PM by Scott Esposito

DeniseNewmanBay Area translators: this is your chance to participate in a one-time-only translation workshop with a local poet and one of the best translators from Danish working today: Denise Newman.

You can apply for this workshop right here. The total number of participants will be capped at 12. Although Denise translates from Danish, this workshop is open to all translators, regardless of language.

Denise is the translator of possibly Denmark's greatest writer, Inger Christensen, as well as Two Lines Press's forthcoming book, Baboon, by award-winner Naja Marie Aidt. In addition to being an outstanding translator, Denise is a widely published poet and a teacher at California College of Arts. She also received a 2013 NEA Translation Fellowship to complete her translation of Baboon.

Denise will lead a three-hour class, where students will have the chance to both work on a translation and workshop it with their fellow students. This lively, hands-on workshop will include in-depth group discussion and direct practice with various strategies and craft considerations surrounding the art of translation.

Participants will also receive a FREE, ONE-YEAR SUBSCRIPTION to Two Lines Press's 2014 titles, a value of over $50.

WHERE: the offices of the Center for the Art of Translation, 582 Market St., Suite 700

WHEN: Saturday, May 17, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm

Entrance into the workshop will be granted on an application basis. To apply, submit a two-page translation sample via our Submittable page.

Submissions will be judged by the staff of Two Lines Press. Applicants will be notified of our decision within two weeks. Once notified, your spot in the workshop will be held for three days before another applicant may be invited to attend in your place.

Applicants who are accepted and pay their registration fee by April 28, 2014, are offered a discounted admission of $75. To be considered for discounted admission we must receive your application no later than April 21.

All attendees who pay on or after April 29 must pay the full price of $100.

The workshop will be capped at 12 participants. First come, first served. You are encouraged to apply early.

Please note: although Denise is a translator of Danish literature, this workshop is open to translators from all languages.

Any questions may be emailed to Scott Esposito at

All applications must be made via our Submittable page.

Meet Two Lines Press in Seattle!

Posted on February 25, 2014, 02:19:00 PM by Scott Esposito

We're all headed out to the annual AWP Conference in Seattle—drop by and say hello to us at TLP's FIRST AWP EVER! We'll be at table B10. So make sure to drop by, say hi, and get us off to a fantastic start. Show your support for translation excellence!

At our booth you'll find all sorts of great things: we'll be giving away 3 separate chapbooks previewing some of the great writing coming down the pike in 2014.

You'll also have a chance to get your hands on the few remaining copies of our signed Naja Marie Aidt chapbooks

Plus, we'll have a special Running through Beijing giveaway that only for conference attendees! You'll get to see all of our 2013 offerings in the wild, & did we mention the great conference-only deals on subscriptions and back issues of Two Lines?

We're also very excited to be reading at one of the coolest events happening this year—the sexy, sexy Journal Porn. It's all going down at the Black Coffee Coop, 501 E Pine St in Seattle. Starting at 8:00 pm, you'll hear readings from Two Lines and our fellow journals Big Fiction, Parcel, and Versal. Among all the entertainment going all will be live music from the rocking Seattle band XVIII Eyes. Have a look:




Hello from Two Lines Press

Posted on January 21, 2014, 04:01:00 PM by Scott Esposito

Hello to everyone in the Center for the Art of Translation's community! It's been a very busy 2013, and we apologize for the radio silence on our blog. But, we're sure you'll more than forgive us, as the Center's Two Lines Press program has been doing some wonderful things for the cause of translation.

You see, after putting out a leading journal of translation for two decades, we decided it's high time we put our expertise to work by publishing full-length books of translation. So that's just what we didi in 2013, calling it Two Lines Press, and things have been going very well so far! We're getting people to pay attention to translation in places we never knew we'd reach! We've done events with translators and authors on both coasts of the United States. And each of our titles gives the translator top billing, right alongside the author on the cover. How about that!

So what all has been going on? For starters, you can have a look at a wonderful review that the 20th anniversary edition of Two Lines, called Landmarks, received just this week. That review caps off an extraordinary year that saw the inaugural titles from Two Lines Press get coverage in places like Harper's, The New Yorker, Little Star, Rain Taxi, Publishers Weekly, SF Weekly, ZYZZYVA, and lots more. You can find out more about all the great news by having a look at each of our title's individual page on the Two Lines Press website. A great place to start is at our digital catalog.

And for those of you who have enjoyed all the translators, publishers, editors, and other translation professionals we have been featuring on our podcast, That Other Word, you will find all the latest at its new home on the Web, right here. Recent episodes include the amazing Kenyan author and translator Ngugi wa Thiong'o and the new translation publishers Will Evans and E.J. Van Lanen.

Mixing Art and Poetry Makes Kids Feel Like Famous Poets

Posted on November 8, 2013, 06:00:00 AM by John Oliver Simon

For six weeks in September and October, Emerson Elementary School in Oakland (a Poetry Inside Out school site) was a partner in a neighborhood art and poetry installation project that brought a local visual artist together with student poets to make pieces incorporating their words and original art (We wrote about the project kickoff party back in September).

The kids chose verses from poems that they had written and added them to boards that they painted and decorated, creating completely new works of art by combining two disciplines. The idea behind Temescal InSitu was to create public poems and visual art installations to be presented in Oakland’s Temescal district, and to “transform the neighborhood into a book or art gallery”.

The children’s creations were hung on the playground fence for six weeks and are now on display in the hallways of the school. The kids loved working with the artist and thinking about their work in new ways.

Devin, a fifth-grader, says she wrote her “recipe” poem thinking of her mother’s favorite comfort food, “Momma’s Burgers.” “When my poem was mounted on the school fence,” Devin said, “it made me feel like a famous poet. And my name, Devin, means poet in Celtic.”


Maya Angelou and More Than 100 Writers Criticize Obama On Student Testing

Posted on October 30, 2013, 06:00:00 AM by Erin Branagan

Celebrated author and poet Maya Angelou has been joined by 120 other children’s writers in signing an open letter to President Obama criticizing his education policy and its “overuse and abuse” of standardized testing. They are concerned that over-reliance on testing hurts imagination and destroys children’s love of reading.

Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

We the undersigned children’s book authors and illustrators write to express our concern for our readers, their parents and teachers. We are alarmed at the negative impact of excessive school testing mandates, including your Administration’s own initiatives, on children’s love of reading and literature. Recent policy changes by your Administration have not lowered the stakes. On the contrary, requirements to evaluate teachers based on student test scores impose more standardized exams and crowd out exploration….As Michael Morpurgo, author of the Tony Award Winner War Horse, put it, “It’s not about testing and reading schemes, but about loving stories and passing on that passion to our children.”

You can read the full letter here. If you agree that education should inspire curiosity and independent thinking, read our last post “3 Things You Can Do To Help Arts Education”, share it with your friends, and become an active supporter of arts education in your community.

(photo by Brigitte Lacombe)

3 Things You Can Do to Help Arts Education

Posted on October 29, 2013, 02:28:00 PM by Erin Branagan

October is Principal’s Month, and before it’s over in a few days, we thought we’d pass along some ideas about how school leaders can increase arts education in classrooms. The Arts Education Partnership has come up with 3 simple suggestions for teachers and principals. If you believe in the value of arts education, please share these no-cost ideas with other parents, teachers, and administrators:

A establish a school-wide commitment to arts learning
B create an arts-rich learning environment
C rethink the use of time and resources

Read the full article here. (pdf)

Even the President’s Council on the Arts and Humanities agrees that arts education is critical for student learning and engagement. Involvement in artistic activities—music, dance, drama, performing arts, literature—can give kids a reason to come to school and a new interest in learning. Unfortunately, the last twelve years have seen huge cuts to arts instruction. If more schools start following these tips, it could make a huge difference in kids’ lives.