Meet Nashwa Gowanlock - Publisher at the PTC

By: Nashwa Gowanlock

Every now and then the stars align and this, for me, is one of those times.

As a poet and literary translator, when this role with the Poetry Translation Centre came up, I naturally jumped at the chance. Here was an opportunity to join an established team whose mission – like my own – was to introduce brilliant poets to the English-speaking world and amplify their voices.

I’ve been working as a literary translator for the past ten years alongside a more established career in journalism. Although, growing up bilingual, the act of translation has been part of my life for much longer. I arrived in the UK in 1990 following the invasion of Kuwait, where I was born and raised. For me, language has always been a way of forging connections.

Since then, I have translated writers from all over the Middle East, using different dialects, along with Modern Standard Arabic, and within different contexts, but who share similar experiences and concerns. I’ve translated poems, screenplays, short stories, novels and memoirs over the years, together with incredibly passionate and dedicated editors, proof-readers and publishers. I’ve edited writing of various genres too for different publications, produced by talented authors and translators.

These collaborations have brought forth literature never before translated into English and, just as it was when I was a younger interpreter between my Egyptian family and the new western society we’d emigrated to, this process opened up possibilities for exchange.

This is where I believe the power of translation lies, the way it offers an intimate view into another experience beyond your own, whether that is in another country, or even a local community with different traditions. When I started to work within the limitless horizon of translating literature, I felt this even more acutely.

We are lucky in the UK that our literary translation community is extremely supportive, whichever language combinations we may work with. Organisations like the PTC have been an integral force within it and a driver for change. Community-building is at its core and it’s an aspect that especially drew me.

In my role as Publisher, I will be following up on the excellent work of the outgoing Commissioning Editor, Edward Doeger. The roster of poets and translators whose work will be published with the support of PTC’s partners this year is remarkable. Plans for the coming years are just as exciting and I’m looking forward to revealing those in due course.

In the meantime, I’m very excited to be working with the poets, translators, publishers, and partners I’ll meet along the way.