Friday, 13 January 2012

Fun things to do in 2012: enter a translation competition

It will come as no surprise to my nearest and dearest that I have merrily broken most of my 2012 resolutions already; for stronger-minded readers of this blog who are still looking for suggestions for self-improvement in 2012, here's one that you might fancy:

 2012: enter a translation competition. 

There are lots of them out there, and they focus the mind marvellously. Some have set texts; some are open to any eligible text chosen by the translator. Prizes may include cash and/or publication. Good experience for entrants, and great exposure for prizewinners. Entry fees and restrictions on residence/nationality, etc. may apply. Information believed up-to-date at time of writing (though translation competitions do tend to wax and wane a bit).

Here are a few notable ones, roughly in order of deadline (click on links for terms and conditions):

New Books in German Emerging Translators Programme (deadline: 20 January 2012)
DE-EN. Six places available for translators who have not yet published a book-length translation. Involves a workshop in March and publication in New Books in German. Entries include a short sample translation; text is on the website.

German Embassy Award for Translators (deadline 31 January 2012)
DE-EN. Entrants translate a downloadable extract from the novel Das Geschenk by Wolf Wondratschek.

Modern Poetry in Translation Poetry Translation Prize (deadline 1 February 2012)
Open to translations into English of poems from any language on the subject of 'Freedom', not longer than 20 lines.

Dryden Prize (deadline 15 February 2012)
A long-running competition for unpublished literary translations from any language into English, organised by the BCLA and the BCLT.

Susan Sontag Prize for Translation (deadline 9 March 2012)
PT-EN. A different source language is chosen each year; this year it's Portuguese. For proposals rather than completed translations. The prize is a grant of $5,000 towards the proposed translation.

Academia Rossica Young Translators' Award
RU-EN. The translator chooses one of the set texts. Last year's deadline was in March. (The website is a bit difficult to extract information from).

The Times Stephen Spender Prize for Poetry Translation (deadline Friday 1 June 2012)
For poems from any classical or modern language into English, plus a short commentary on the translation. Three age categories: open, 18-and-under, 14-and-under.
Last year the Trust also inaugurated a Russian-to-English poetry translation prize, the Joseph Brodsky/Stephen Spender Prize: no details about a new deadline for this on the website as yet.

American-Scandinavian Foundation Translation Prize
For unpublished translations into English of Scandinavian writers born after 1800. Last year's deadline was in early June. 

Harvill Secker Young Translators' Prize
A different language is chosen each year (Spanish 2010, Arabic 2011, ?? 2012). Open to young translators from 16 to 34. Entrants translate a set text. Last year's deadline was in late July.

Translators' House Wales Translation Challenge
Translators' House Wales seems to run intermittent translation competitions from Welsh and other languages:

Austrian Cultural Forum Translators' Prize (entries accepted 1 July-1 September annually)
DE-EN. Gives a $3,000 grant, payable on acceptance of the full manuscript by a publisher, for an unpublished translation of an Austrian writer. North-America-focused.

Kurodahan Press Translation Prize 
JP-EN. The set text is usually announced in June, for a deadline in September.

Willis Barnstone Translation Prize
For unpublished translations of poetry from any language to English. Last year's deadline was in early December. 

William F. Sibley Memorial Translation Prize
JP-EN.  Literary translations, length not to exceed 15,000 words, eligible genres change year by year. No deadline available yet for 2012.

Alternatively, if you're more of an armchair translation-fancier, you could get involved by recommending an already-published work for a translation award; my favourite award which is open to nominations by civilians is the Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Awards, a great initiative to win more recognition for genre fiction in translation.

If you're anywhere in the EU, and you are in contact with secondary schools, you might like to make them aware of the excellent Juvenes Translatores competition run annually by the Directorate-General for Translation of the European Commission.

For other lists of prizes, see here, here or here. I'd be delighted to hear further suggestions about translation prizes (especially into languages other than English) and links in the comments.

EDIT Tues 17 January:

ATA Student Translation Award (deadline 29 June 2012)
Have just heard about the American Translators' Association Student Translation Award, open to registered students in the United States (preferably registered on a translation programme).

EDIT Wednesday 25 January:

Compass Translation Award (RU-EN), deadline 25 June 2012
RU-EN Translate a poem of the entrant's choice by Marina Tsvetaeva.

UPDATE 22 JUNE 2012: For a fuller update on translation competitions, e.g. confirmed entry dates, etc. see

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