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An inspiring translators’ residency during an unexpected early spring

Birgit Erdmann translates fiction, non-fiction and children’s and young adult literature into German. She spent the second half of February at the Translators’ House in Antwerp to work on her translation of The Most Beautiful Book of All Colours by Tom Schamp, which will be published by Gerstenberg Verlag. And she made the most of an early spring too. Here’s an impression!

Birgit Erdmann at the Translators' House
Birgit Erdmann with her colleague Gonzalo Fernández Gómez at the rooftop terrace of the Translators' House

My stay at the Translators’ House in Antwerp revolved around two illustrators who are doing a great job with their pens and words. It’s rewarding for me as a translator: word games, visual allusions and beautiful drawings. Alongside my work on these wonderful projects, I also spent a fair bit of time out of the house, in an effort to better understand and remember Dutch/Flemish, which always sound difficult to me.

It was lovely at the Translators’ House. My Spanish colleague Gonzalo Fernández Gómez and I got on well and given the good weather we were able to sit out on the roof terrace on a few occasions to chat and exchange experiences.

I also had an exciting day in Brussels. First an extremely useful meeting with Tom Schamp, during which I could ask him my questions about his Book of Colours. This was followed by a reading group at deBuren with Jaap Robben, of whom I have translated several books (The Sourballs, Tinkleman, 'Birk'...). It was an excellent gathering with eight enthusiastic readers, who discussed 'Summer Coat' with the author and shared their own ideas about the young protagonist’s adventures.

It goes without saying that I also had frequent contact with the team of Flanders Literature. Karen and Patrick came over for lunch at the Translators House one day – a pleasant break from my daily routine – and once I joined the team lunch in the offices of Flanders Literature. Finally, I met up with fellow translators Isabel Hessel and Christina Brunnenkamp. In short: it was an enjoyable and productive stay with lots of nice encounters!