The Poetry Translation Centre (UK) and the Universidad de San Andrés (Argentina) partnered together to run a Queer Digital Residency programme to support two queer-identifying translators. We worked with one translator based in Argentina, translating from English into Spanish and one translator based in the UK, translating from Spanish into English. The programme ran from April 2022 to March 2023 and offered structured support and paid time for the resident translators to explore the work of a living poet of their choice as well as queer translation as a practice.
During the residency the translators received tailored seminar support, led translation workshops, produced a new body of translations, and generated videos reflecting on the translation process.
Jon Herring is a linguist and early career translator who lives in London. His undergraduate degree was in Spanish and French literature. As part of the Queer Digital Residency he translated Argentinian poet Osvaldo Bossi into English. Read the translations here.
Galindez translated a set of poems by the Scottish poet Jackie Kay from her 2017 collection Bantam. These poems reflect on the body and identity and work with both standard English and Scots. Galindez' translations had to find Spanish language equivalents to reflect these different dialects. Her work as a translator also reflects an interest in gender inclusive language.
Herring translated the Argentinian poet Osvaldo Bossi, whose work was described as ‘tender, arrogant, virile’ by leading queer poet Diana Bellessi. Herring selected a range of Bossi’s poems including several from his collection The love poems that the coyote wrote to the roadrunner. In his translations Herring captured Bossi’s casual, wistful tone and playful appropriation of pop culture imagery from his childhood.
The residents took part in online training session with leading poets and translators, including Mary Jean Chan, a Hong Kong Chinese poet, lecturer, editor, critic and winner of the 2019 Costa Book Award for poetry; and Andrew McMillan, a poet and lecturer who won the Guardian First Book Award, the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and the inaugural Polari Prize. In their session, Mary Jean and Andrew jointly discussed their editorship of the 100 Queer Poems anthology.
Leo Boix, an Argentine-British poet, translator and journalist and winner of the Bart Wolffe Poetry Prize Award and the Keats-Shelley Prize for Poetry gave the pair an overview of the history of Queer poetry in Latin America. Finally the poet, translator and scholar of modern Japanese literature Jeffrey Angles, who won the Yomiuri Prize for Literature, discussed the practice and theory of translation queerness.
You can watch videos about the Queer Digital Residency on the PTC's YouTube page. Paula Galindez made a video about translating Jackie Kay, focusing on the tricky question of finding a variety of Spanish that would capture the use of Scots in Kay's poetry. Jon Herring made a single-take video of a walk to the edge of the ocean that serves as a metaphor for the translation process and ends with a reading of one of Osvaldo Bossi's poems.
There is also a video from Osvaldo Bossi, discussing what it is like to be translated and thinking about the variety of Queer experience in the UK and Latin America. Finally, Bern Roche Farrelly, who managed the project for the PTC, reflects on queerness and translation, and the visibility of translators.
As part of the Queer Digital Residency both of our resident translators Joh Herring and Paula Galindez recorded interviews about translation and thier experience on the residency.
In the first installment the PTC's Partisipation Producer Bern Roche Farrelly and Jon Herring have a wide ranging conversation about getting started in translation, the interplay between linguistics and transition and , of course, a discussion of queer readings of DC superhero. Who else remembers Chris O'Donnell's Robin?
To mark the culmination of the residency programme there were two in-person events held in March 2023, one in London and one in Buenos Aires. The London event was held at the Triangle LGBQ+ Culture Centre in Deptford and featured Jon Herring and Paula Galindez reading their translations and discussing the translation process with poet and translator Leo Boix.
In Buenos Aires, Jon Herring and Paula Galindez appeared at the Universidad de San Andrés for a live event called Una Promesa Longa, featuring Osvaldo Bossi and chaired by Inés Kreplak, professor and author of Confluencia (2017) and La ilusión de la larga noche (2021).
Inspiration and funders
The residency was inspired by the Poetry Translation Centre’s publication of Diana Bellessi’s To Love a Woman translated by Leo Boix as part of their World Poet Series. Bellessi is considered to be the godmother of feminist / LGBTQI+ / Lesbian poetry in Argentina and her work demonstrates a deep commitment to progressive politics, ecological conservation and the social condition of the working class in Argentina and Latin America. Her poetry is seen as groundbreaking for its depiction of lesbian desire and has exerted a strong influence on prominent poets and writers from the 80s and 90s through to the present day.
The Queer Digital Residency was funded by the Jan Michalski Foundation and Oxford Brookes University.
Sobre la prohibición del lenguaje inclusivo en la Ciudad de Buenos Aires
Durante los últimos diez años, el lenguaje inclusivo de género se ha vuelto más utilizado en la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, pero ahora ha sido prohibido.
A Few Comments on the Gender-Inclusive Language Ban in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Translator Paula Galindez discusses how gender-inclusive language had become widely used in Buenos Aires before being banned.