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Translating Poetry Symposium with CO.AS.IT September 28 3-6pm

AALITRA, in association with CO.AS.IT., presents

CO.AS.IT., 199 Faraday Street, Carlton
Thursday 28 September 2023, 3-6pm
Free event offered in person and in Zoom mode

Registration essential here

Zoom link:

Topic: AALITRA Symposium

Time: Sep 28, 2023 03:00 PM Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney

Join Zoom Meeting


Robert Frost is credited with the saying ‘Poetry is what gets lost in translation.’
But what if it was more accurate to say: ‘The poetry in a poem is what gets
saved (or even strengthened) in a good translation’?

Peter Boyle – Translating a poem into a poem

Stephen Nagle – Translating mood: Rilke, The Heartfelt,
and Celan, The Conscience of the Damned

Judith Bishop – Translating poetry-in-prose:
the case of Philippe Jaccottet


Peter Boyle
Translating a poem into a poem

Robert Frost is credited with the saying “Poetry is what gets lost in translation.” But what if it was more accurate to say: “The poetry in a poem is what gets saved (or even strengthened) in a good translation”?

By the “poetry in a poem” I don’t mean the fact that it rhymes or is in alexandrines or has a lot of alliteration or clever word play. When we value a poem it isn’t just because of stylistic features or the poem’s paraphrasable message, if it has one. What counts, the poetry in the poem, is the unity of emotion, sound, rhythm, breath, a stance towards the world, the way it embodies a personality, and the lure of a meaning that always slightly escapes us. A poem is like a journey through a musical structure where emotion and thought are unified in a way that strikes us as both true and new, irreducible to what we’ve heard said before.

So what is it that a translator seeks to hold on to when translating a poem? I would argue it is the translator’s intuition of what is most valuable in the specific poem, the unique poetry it alone offers, and the way the poem, as an art object, unfolds in time. Crucial to this task is finding an equivalent in a different language for the tone of voice, the imprinted personality, of the original poet, their stance towards the world.

In this talk I will explore these ideas by reflecting on my experience of translating three very different poets — the Venezuelan Eugenio Montejo, the Cuban poet José Kozer and French poet René Char.


Stephen Nagle

Translating mood: Rilke, The Heartfelt, and Celan, The Conscience of the Damned


Both Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) and Paul Celan (1920-1970) grew up in cultured enclaves where high German was the language of philosophy and poetry, but not the language of the street. Rilke was born into the Prague of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and Celan the long standing Jewish community of Czernowitz, Romania – a place where “people and books used to live”, said Celan. Rilke was a gifted poet and a social butterfly. Celan was witness to the Holocaust and challenged immediate post-war German intellectuals to take responsibility.


Judith Bishop

Translating poetry-in-prose: the case of Philippe Jaccottet


Philippe Jaccottet’s Truinas, le 21 avril 2001 was published by La Dogana in 2004, after a three-year struggle to complete the work. In this short book, Jaccottet describes the burial of his close friend, the contemporary poet and fellow admirer of Friedrich Hölderlin, André du Bouchet. Truinas was translated independently by John Taylor (Les Brouzils, 2018) and myself (unpublished, 2006). The sinuous lines of Jaccottet’s poetry-in-prose make the act of translation feel like an undulating and rather risky flight. Despite Jaccottet’s despairing assessment of the work, it bears all the technical hallmarks of his most exquisite poetry. Linguistically, there is the expert deployment of syntactic rhythm, semantic association and lexical choice, while prosodically, there is the building and release of tension through the devices of white space, dashes, asides, inverted commas, colons and ellipses. I will consider key differences in the translation of a central passage with reference to these aspects of Jaccottet’s art.




Dr Judith Bishop is the author of two award-winning poetry collections, Event (Salt, 2007) and Interval (UQP, 2018). A third collection, Circadia, is forthcoming from UQP in 2024. In 1995 Judith completed an MPhil in European Literature at the University of Cambridge with a focus on post-World War II French poetry.


Peter Boyle is a distinguished Australian poet and translator of poetry from Spanish and French. He has ten books of poetry published and eight books as a translator. His most recent poetry collections are Ideas of Travel and Notes Towards the Dreambook of Endings.

As a translator his books include Anima by Cuban poet José Kozer, The Trees: Selected Poems of Eugenio Montejo and Three Poets: Olga Orozco, Marosa Di Giorgio and Jorge Palma. A bilingual Selected Poems of José Kozer is due out this year from Puncher and Wattmann. His translations of French poets René Char, Pierre Reverdy and Max Jacob have appeared in journals and anthologies in the US. In 2013 he was awarded the New South Wales Premier’s Award for Literary Translation.


Stephen Nagle lived in Germany and Switzerland in the 70’s and 80’s. He worked as a language teacher and technical and medical translator in Hamburg, then West Germany. More recently he has taken to poetry and translating Rilke and Celan from German to English. He has a NAATI Level 3 certification.



THE WHITE REVIEW is delighted to announce that we will be publishing an anthology of writing in translation. The book will celebrate the important work of translators, and bring innovative and exciting writing to Anglophone readers. Submissions free and open from July 31-Sept 10.

For further info, go tohttps://www.thewhitereview.org/news_and_events/the-white-review-translation-anthology/

2023 AALITRA AGM will be held on Wednesday August 9

Members please note:

The 2023 AGM will be held on Wednesday August 9, 5:30-6:45 at RMIT 80.04.06 (with a Zoom option).

The AGM will include a short presentation by Brian Nelson on  “Translating Emile Zola’s L’Assomoir: A Question of Voice.”

If members have not received an email with attachments about the AGM already, please send an email to aalitra.australia@gmail.com with the subject line Re: AGM, and asking for the attachments, etc. and please provide an indication of your attendance.

Rhyme and Reason in Dante and the difficulty of translation: A talk by Simon West

Rhyme and Reason in Dante and the difficulty of translation: A talk by Simon West

13 June 2023

Thanks to those who attended this event, which was organised by AALITRA in assocation with COAS.IT and the Dante Alighieri Socety.

Thanks to Di Cousens for taking photos.

Applications open for Jan Michalski Foundation’s residency for writers

The Jan Michalski Foundation’s residency for writers is designed to provide an environment for creative writing and to support those involved in the written word.

General Terms and Conditions

Residences are available for all types of writers engaged in literary creation. While we give priority to writers and translators, we are also open to any other discipline as long as writing is at the heart of the project. Stays in the Jan Michalski Foundation are granted to individuals as well as pairs of writers working on a common project. The latter might include a writer and a translator, a writer and someone from another discipline, two writers, and so on.


The Jan Michalski Foundation lies at the foot of the Swiss Jura Mountains in Montricher. The village is approximately 30 minutes from Lausanne and one hour from Geneva. It is possible to reach Montricher from Morges by train.

Six “cabins” overlook Lake Geneva and the Alps while a seventh is oriented towards the forested slopes of the Jura. One final cabin serves as a kitchen and common living area where resident writers can cook together, socialize and relax.

Applications for 2024 are now open and will be accepted until September 14, 2023.

More info: https://fondation-janmichalski.com/en/residences

AALITRA and The Chinese Studies Association of Australia jointly holding a Chinese-English Translation Competition

The Chinese Studies Association of Australia and The Australian Association for Literary Translation call for submissions to a 2023 Chinese-English Translation Competition.

The Competition considers translations of Chinese texts of any genre or period into English. The length of submissions is 10-15 double-spaced pages of prose or 8-10 double-spaced pages of poetry translated into English.

Submission will also include a commentary of 800 to 1200 words (not included in submission page count) explaining their choice of text and strategies of translation. For examples of commentaries, see AALITRA Review.

Translations of previously translated texts are acceptable only if they are completely novel translations, and the commentary must justify the choice.

The winning entry will receive 250 AUD and be strongly considered for publication in AALITRA Review.

The deadline for entries will be 30 June, 2023 and should be submitted to csaa.members@sydney.edu.au. The winner will be awarded at CSAA Biennial Conference in December 2023.

Eligibility: Australian PRs & citizens or members of CSAA or AALITRA.


  • Will Gatherer (The University of Queensland) Chair
  • Jindan Ni (RMIT)
  • Tin Kei Wong (The University of Adelaide)

Join us: Chinese Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 

Date: 7-9 December 2023
Location: The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Call for Papers: Studying Things Chinese: Challenges and Opportunities (Deadline 31 July)

Call for Applications: CSAA Travel Bursaries (Deadline 31 July)

Call for Nominations: CSAA Best Postgraduate Essay Prize (Deadline 1 October)

Call for Nominations: CSAA PhD Thesis Prize for China Studies (Deadline 1 September)

If you have any questions, please get in touch with us on csaa.members@sydney.edu.au .

More info here: https://www.csaa.org.au/2023/02/call-for-submission-2023-csaa-aalitra-chinese-english-translation-competition/#:~:text=The%20winning%20entry%20will%20receive,at%20CSAA%20in%20December%202023.

Best of Mariano Coreno. Event in Italian and in English

The Dante Alighieri Society and COASIT invite you to an evening of poetry in Italian and in English.

Tuesday 6 June 2023, 6,30-9pm
COASIT, 199 Faraday Street, Carlton 3053

This event celebrates the book launch of Best of Mariano Coreno, Italian Poet in Australia.
A selection of new poems and the most loved poems from six of his books will be presented, all with new English poetry translations by Jack Taylor with the participation of the poet.
Jack Taylor presents the English part of the book.
With Kavisha Mazzella, AM, singer, and Benedetta Ferrara.
Readings by Rosaria Mazzarotta.
Registration essential here:

Rhyme and Reason in Dante and the Difficulty of Translation A talk by Simon West



AALITRA, in association with COASIT and the Dante Alighieri Society, presents

Rhyme and Reason in Dante and the Difficulty of Translation A talk by Simon West

COASIT, 199 Faraday Street, Carlton

Tuesday 13 June 2023, 6.30-8pm

Free event. Booking essential here


There’s no rhyme or reason to it, we sometimes say, as if rhyme and reason were two distinct modes of thought. This talk explores the role of rhyme in Dante’s Divine Comedy and poetry more widely, and the challenges of ’non-reasonable’ discourse for translation.


Simon West is the author of five collections of poetry, including Carol and Ahoy, published in the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poetsand The Ladder, which was shortlisted for the 2016 Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. He is also the author of Dear Muses? Essays in Poetry and the editor and translator of The Selected Poetry of Guido Cavalcanti. He lives in Melbourne.


Image: Dante holding the Divine Comedy with scenes from the Divine Comedy and Florence in the background. Fresco by Domenico di Michelino, Florence, Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Image sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

Asymptote: Call For Submissions – Indonesian Special Feature

For our Summer 2023 issue, we are thrilled to partner with the Lontar Foundation to host a showcase of contemporary writing from the Indonesian—specifically literary fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry—to demonstrate the wealth that Indonesian Literature has to offer to the English-speaking world. Translators and authors whose work is featured in this showcase will each be paid USD80 per article. As with all sponsored showcases, submission fees will be waived; optional feedback can be requested for a fee of USD10. For translated prose, send up to 5,000 words; for poetry, up to 20 pages. Please include the original texts along with your translations. General guidelines below apply. Submit your best work via Submittable, and only if this is absolutely not possible, via email at editors@asymptotejournal.com with the subject header “INDONESIAN FEATURE”. Deadline: May 1st, 2023



The SALT Project to Promote South Asian Literature in Translation

The SALT Project will help bring the extraordinarily rich literature of the subcontinent to readers, writers, and scholars in publishing markets where it has been severely underrepresented.  https://salc.uchicago.edu/salt-project