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Carmien Michels translates city book with British students

Author, poet and European slam poetry champion, Carmien Michels, was recently invited to the United Kingdom for a translation project at the universities of London, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Author Carmien Michels and translator Jonathan Reeder

“An author with a thorough cultural understanding”. “Certainly no cliché”. This is what British students of Dutch had to say about author Carmien Michels after reading her text 'Not Long Now'. Michels spent three weeks travelling through England, giving performances and workshops at various locations, thanks to a collaboration between the Dutch Language Union, Flanders Literature, the Flemish-Dutch cultural organisation deBuren and Flanders House, the Representation of the Flemish Government in the United Kingdom. The project was organised and coordinated by Henriette Louwerse (Sheffield University).

Michels wrote a citybook about Munster for deBuren, entitled, ‘Niet lang meer’ (‘Not Long Now’). Together with students of Dutch from the three universities she visited, she worked on the English translation of this text. Initially, the bachelor and master students collaborated digitally in small groups at their own universities. Carmien visited personally and professional translator Jonathan Reeder was available digitally for advice. Finally, all participants were present at the plenary translation symposium in Sheffield.

"Literary translation really is an art"

For most participants, this project was their first encounter with literary translation. For many, it was different from what they had expected. “The project offered me the opportunity to explore the text at a much more in-depth level than any other of my translation experiences," said one student. "I’ve found literary translation to be far more interesting, immersive and more of a creative task than I had expected.”

Another student remarked on the fact that you draw on both your analytical capacity and your creativity. “The most important thing I learned over the process of this project is that literary translation really is an art.”

May 16th, 2017