Last week, I escaped from my attic hidey-hole for a few days, and headed off to London in search of translation adventures. After a smooth, book-filled journey down to King’s Cross, my first port of call was the Free Word Centre for a Translation Symposium. The day featured inspiring and motivating talks and discussions with authors, translators and facilitators of all kinds from the world of literary translation. Aside from the interesting organised sessions, it was also a welcome opportunity to meet and catch up with some of my ‘virtual’ colleagues face to face. Some of the many moments which have stuck in my mind from during the day, include Sarah Ardizzone’s reminder about the importance of ‘professional pride’ amongst translators, listening to Robert Chandler explaining how he chose the poems he did for the Penguin Book of Russian Poetry (a truly excellent book and highly recommended), and being regaled by Alice Guthrie’s entertaining samples of Arabic idioms translated into English.
This was followed by two equally worthwhile days at the London Book Fair. LBF is a huge annual event, bringing together all kinds of players in the book publishing industry, from important-looking executives, costumed actors giving readings, and publishing representatives from all over the world, to authors, illustrators and, of course, translators. I divided most of my time between the talks and discussions at the Literary Translation Centre, and the Read Russia stand which also had a very full programme of events. I met some of the best translators in the profession, listened to authors discussing their work and sources of inspiration, absorbed huge amounts of useful information, and found myself infected with the enormous levels of enthusiasm, dedication and determination. Needless to say, the two days passed very quickly, and it seemed only a few moments before I was back at King’s Cross, boarding my train back home.
I would like to thank the organisers of both events for their meticulous and highly successful planning and execution, as well as expressing my gratitude to the many people I met in London, for sharing your passion, experience and energy. I hope we will meet again some time, and meanwhile I wish you every success with your own projects.