Posted: Tuesday May 8, 2012
May 8, 2012
Michelle Gil-Montero, assistant professor of English and director of creative writing in the School of Humanities and Fine Arts at Saint Vincent College, was featured in the Arts Beat section of The New York Times on Friday, May 4.
The article reviewed the PEN World Voices Literary Festival, in which Ms. Gil-Montero was an invited participant.
The article took note of her performance in a “translation slam” in which she participated with her husband, Roman Antopolsky, who is also a poet and translator. According to New York Times writer Larry Rohter, the slam, held at the Bowery Poetry Club, “was modeled on the poetry slams that have become popular in recent years, reaching even the White House.”
“A pair of translators are given the same text, in this case three days in advance, and asked to create their own versions in another language, which they read to an audience that can be appreciative or not,” Mr. Rohter wrote. “It’s partly intellectual puzzle, partly spectacle, and meant to be great fun for everyone involved.”
The event, sponsored in part by the Mexican Cultural Institute, was divided in two separate parts. In the second half of the program, two Spanish-to-English translators were given a piece of prose written by Naief Yehya, a writer born in Mexico City who now lives in New York. The text was about watching a bad and boring soccer game on television. “As they admitted later, the translators, Rosalie Knecht and Ms. Gil-Montero, were at a disadvantage because neither is a soccer fan,” Mr. Rohter noted. “The differences in their approach started with the rendering of Mr. Yehya’s title and continued throughout.”
“The biggest challenge, though, may have been how to translate the Spanish word, penitencia,” Mr. Rohter commented. “Mr. Yehya’s explanation of his motivation for enduring bad soccer games ‘in a distant land’ whose ‘results matter little to me.’ Ms. Gil-Montero went with ‘penance’ while Mr. Knecht chose ‘penitence.’ Ms. Gil-Montero ventured a guess when the question came up after the performance: ‘I teach at a Catholic college,’ she said, ‘drawing laughs from the audience’.”
This complete article is available online:
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