Monday, October 23, 2006

ALTA Conference

I got back from Seattle yesterday after spending a few days at the ALTA conference there. ALTA is the American Literary Translators' Association and their conference is a bit like the AWP except with translators and presses that publish translations.

I had the pleasure of meeting one of my favorite poets, Kim Hyesoon from Korea, and getting to hear her read with her awesome translator Don Mee Choi. Also, she dedicated a poem to Joyelle (who unfortunately wasn't there!).

If you are curious about her poetry you can find some samples in the second issue of Action, Yes, the second issue of Circumference, and in an *amazing* chapbook from Tinfish.

And when you've read that you'll certainly want to get "Anxiety of Words," Don Mee's brilliant new book of three Korean women poets just out from Zephyr Press. If you get no other book this year, I would recommend this one. I'm buying copies for everyone I know.

I should also say that Don Mee's own poems are great too. And she's in the same issue of Action,Yes. Between her poetry and translations, I see Don Mee as one of the most interesting figures in American poetry right now.

I first read her translations in the Circumference issue. Joyelle and I were both so taken by the poems that we immediately sought out Don Mee and convinced her to translate a whole book for us. So we're publishing a selection of her Kim Hyesoon translations next fall.

I also enjoyed meeting the Circumference editors Jenny and Stefania (everybody need to subscribe to their journal), Steve Bradbury (his wonderful translations of modern contemporary Taiwanese poetry are published by Zephyr Press) and a host of other total crazies. Also hung out with Dwayne of Absinthe, a journal of contemporary European poetry. Everybody should subscribe to his journal as well.

I was on the contemporary Scandinavian literature panel and that was fun. Göran Malmqvist of the Swedish Academy (the people who give out the Nobel Prize) was in the audience (now I'm a shoe-in). He's quite amazing, having translated countless books of Chinese prose and poetry into Swedish, including all of Bei Dao's work. He's also translated tons of stuff into Chinese and helped Bei Dao translate Transtromer and Sodergran into Chinese.

He's actually a linguist. We talked after the panel and he immediately observed, "You must be from Lund." Which I am. He then proceeded to inform me that there are eight dialects in Skåne and I speak the Lund dialect.

I was also the "moderator" on the publisher's panel with editors from White Pines, Zephyr Press, UW Press and Copper Canyon. Fortunately nobody needed to be moderated. Mostly the audience members seemed concerned with the possible effects of print-on-demand.


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