Translators Aloud: A YouTube Project Shining the Spotlight on Literary Translators

WHO WE ARE

Translators Aloud is a YouTube channel devoted to sharing the work of literary translators, both published and unpublished works, all read by the translators themselves. The channel came into being in late May 2020, in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, when Tina posted on Twitter that she was considering uploading a video of herself reading from one of her translations, but wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested in watching such a thing. The response was tremendous, both from readers expressing their desire to see a translation read by its creator and from translators who had entertained both similar desires to read their own work publicly, and similar doubts that it would find an audience. Charlie, surprised that such a platform didn’t already exist for literary translators, suggested to Tina that they create one–and by the end of the day, the YouTube channel that became Translators Aloud was born.

In less than a year, we have gained over 900 YouTube subscribers and 1500 Twitter followers. The channel continues to grow in reach and evolve day by day, and we have been blown away by the positive engagement. To date, we have shared over 150 videos by 130+ translators working from nearly thirty languages, and some weeks we have been posting videos every day, including  feature weeks spotlighting different languages or themes including Women in Translation, International Translation Day, Children’s and Young Adult literature, and Jewish Book Week.


Translators Aloud’s co-founders:

Charlotte Coombe: a British literary translator working from French and Spanish into English. Two-time Pen Translates award winner, she was also shortlisted for the Valle Inclán Translation Prize for her translation of Fish Soup by Margarita García Robayo. Her published translations include Khomeini, Sade and Me by Abnousse Shalmani, The President’s Room by Ricardo Romero, The Imagined Land by Eduardo Berti and Holiday Heart by Margarita García Robayo. Her work has featured in journals such as Modern Poetry in Translation, Latin American Literature Today, Words Without Borders and World Literature Today. She is currently working with Isabel Adey on a co-translation of En diciembre llegaban las brisas by Marvel Moreno, forthcoming from Europa Editions. She also offers mentoring to emerging literary translators.

Tina Kover: the translator of nearly thirty books from French, including Alexandre Dumas’s Georges, Anna Gavalda’s Life, Only Better, and Mahir Guven’s Older Brother (a 2020 finalist for the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize). Her translation of Négar Djavadi’s Disoriental won the 2019 Albertine Prize and the Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Fiction and was shortlisted for the 2020 International Dublin Literary Award, and was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award, the PEN Translation Prize, the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation, and the Scott Moncrieff Prize. Forthcoming translations include Hervé Le Corre’s In the Shadow of the Fire (winner of a 2020 French Voices Award), Haitian poet and journalist Emmelie Prophète’s Blue, and the nonfiction volume The Science of Middle-earth.


Interview with Charlotte Coombe and Tina Kover, co-founders of Translators Aloud

WHAT WE DO

  • We publish videos of translators reading from their own work, at least twice a week (usually Mon/Thurs), sometimes more frequently, depending on the volume of submissions received.
  • We publish excerpts from both published works in translation, and translated samples of books that are seeking an English-language publisher (with our dedicated Seeking a Publisher playlist).
  • We showcase a diverse set of languages (over 20 different language playlists currently) – we accept bilingual readings (author/translator) as well, as long as one of the languages is English. We are always eager to receive more bilingual submissions; that is, featuring authors and translators reading side by side, illustrative as this is of the symbiotic nature of the translation process. 
  • We are building relationships and collaborations with various organisations, (for example, our forthcoming feature weeks with New Books in German and DELT – Association of Danish-English Literary Translators, and existing collaborations with  Yiddish Book Center, Borderless Book Club and various indie presses). We are constantly reflecting on  how we can find ways to promote the work of translators, as well as highlight certain literary themes and genres, draw attention to  new books, celebrate book publication dates, increase participation in book clubs that feature literature in translation, promote books seeking publishers, celebrate women in translation, and more.

WHY WE DO IT

Our aim is to connect the literary world, with translators at the heart of it. We love books, and the people who make them possible. Translators Aloud is dedicated to: 

  • Bringing translators out of the shadows, and into the spotlight. Our constant focus is the importance and visibility of literary translators, reminding viewers, readers, and critics alike that texts do not magically appear in English–that they are, rather, the result of a great deal of hard work and passionate advocacy of global texts, in many cases by the translators of these texts themselves. 
  • Promoting the art of literary translation.
  • Helping translators to enjoy a little self-promotion, and achieve the recognition they deserve.
  • Exploring the benefits of reading aloud for translators: for improving self-confidence, editing your work,  keeping the art of storytelling alive, and sharing great literature.
  • Adding an audiovisual dimension to translators’ samples, hopefully helping to spark interest, for example, in books that have not yet found the right English-language publisher. Literary translators can use these readings as a dynamic ‘extra’ when approaching publishers with a book they want to translate. 

LITERARY TRANSLATORS, PUBLISHERS, LITERARY AGENTS, BOOK REVIEWERS, READERS, BOOK LOVERS, please get in touch… We want to hear from you!

Here are some ways  you can get involved: 

  • Subscribe to our YouTube channel: youtube.com/c/TranslatorsAloud
  • Submit a reading, or discuss ideas for collaboration to: translatorsaloud@gmail.com  (guidelines for submission can be found on our About page)
  • Watch videos and follow us for news on Twitter: @LoudTranslators
  • Follow us on Instagram: @translatorsaloud
  • Support Translators Aloud by purchasing merchandise through our Bonfire campaign. This project is a labour of love for the two of us, but as the popularity of our channel grows, so does our workload. We plan to apply for arts funding, but in the meantime we are fundraising to cover the costs of automating our social media posts and scheduling. We are also planning to sponsor a BIPOC place at the BCLT summer school in 2022, as a way of contributing to increasing accessibility for all to the literary translation profession.
    Our ‘Translation is diplomacy is hope is peace’ mugs, totes, T-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies available to buy at our Translators Aloud Bonfire store
  • Read more about us

REVIEW: Translators Aloud – Translating Women blog by Helen Vassallo

Translators Aloud Shines Light on Literary Translators – Archipelago Books blog

Showcasing the Voices of Translators Around the World – Self Taught Japanese

YouTube Influencer, but make it Slovene Literature – Olivia Hellewell

Category: NewsOther Blogs

Tags:

3 comments

  1. This is a wonderful initiative which has enabled me to discover the work of many writers and translators, and prompted me to take part myself. Thank you!

  2. Amazing initiative, great to know. I wanted also to ask, among the 20 languages you have among your collaborators, do you have anyone dealing with Chinese>English translation?
    How do you see translation from people who are not English mothertongue to begin with?
    Thanks

Leave a Reply to Tina Kover Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

X