Friday, January 7, 2011

Innovative Translation Workshop Brings Together The Writer’s Center Students and Latino Poetry Community

 By workshop leader Yvette Neisser Moreno, who leads the Translating Local Latino Poets workshop beginning January 24.

 Starting this month, I am excited to offer a new, innovative workshop that strives to bring together translation students with the local Latino poetry community. Instead of my usual workshop format—in which students select works to translate from any country and any time period—this class will focus on translating poems by local Latino poets included in the recent Spanish anthology Al pie de la Casa Blanca: Poetas hispanos de Washington, DC (At the Foot of the White House: Hispanic Poets in Washington, DC).

I developed the workshop in close collaboration with anthology co-editors Luis Alberto Ambroggio and Carlos Parada Ayala, who hope to have an English edition of the groundbreaking anthology ready for publication by the end of the year.

  Co-editor Carlos Parada—a Salvadoran poet and organizer of the local artistic collective Para Eso la Palabra—will attend the first class (January 24th) to talk about the anthology, the poets, and the collaboration with the class. Essentially, the editors see this workshop as an opportunity for budding “translators from the community to translate local poets,” thus building on the anthology’s original concept of showcasing the rich community of Latino poets in the DC area. Over the course of six weeks, each student will translate and workshop two to three poems, which will then be submitted to the editors and poets. If the poets are happy with the translations, these will be included in the English edition of the anthology.

My desired outcomes for the workshop are:
  • to introduce students to the work of talented local Latino writers
  • to help local Latino poets find good translators in the community
  • to give students an opportunity to publish the work produced in the workshop
  • and, ideally, to foster ongoing relationships between students and local poets

Al pie de la Casa Blanca (published by the Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española in 2010) includes over 300 pages of poetry by 24 distinguished Hispanic poets who live in or have strong connections to the DC area. The following are just a few of the many prominent poets included: Francisco Aragón (Nicaragua/US), Director of Letras Latinas; Naomi Ayala (Puerto Rico), award-winning poet; Rei Berroa (Dominican Republic), Professor at George Mason University; Consuelo Hernández (Colombia), Professor at American University; and Milagros Terán (Nicaragua), winner of Nicaragua’s Premio Nacional de Poesía Mariana Sansón, among others. The book is available at Busboys and Poets (14th & V Streets NW), Pórtico bookstore (1350 New York Avenue NW, at the IDB), and from

The workshop will run for six Monday evenings at The Writer’s Center, starting January 24th. Students should have some experience with either writing poetry or translation (of any kind of text), as well as working knowledge of Spanish.

Yvette Neisser Moreno is a poet and translator whose work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Beltway, The International Poetry Review, A River & Sound Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review. Her translation of Argentine Luis Alberto Ambroggio’s Difficult Beauty: Selected Poems was published by Cross-Cultural Communications in 2009; one of her translations was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Moreno works as a freelance writer and Spanish interpreter, and teaches writing at the University of Maryland University College and at the Writer’s Center. Most recently, she co-translated (with Patricia Fisher) South Pole by Venezuelan poet María Teresa Ogliastri.

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