Poetry in Motion: A Roundtable on Translation
A close reading of poems and their translations by the participants Rosa Alcalá, Rachel Galvin, Hai-Dang Phan, and Margaret Ross.
Rosa Alcalá is a poet and translator originally from Paterson, NJ. According to the New York Times, her most recent book of poems, MyOTHER TONGUE, captures “the messy emotions and miscommunications that move between languages” and is a reminder of “how little precedent there is for honest writing [about mothers and daughters], compared with the epic traditions of fathers and sons.” Her poems and translations have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Harper’s, The Nation, Poetry, Best American Poetry, and American Poets in the 21st Century: Poetics of Social Engagement. She is the recipient of a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant to Artists and a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship. The translator of several books by Latin American poets, her book Spit Temple: The Selected Performances of Cecilia Vicuña was runner-up for a PEN Translation Award. She is also the editor and co-translator of New & Selected Poems of Cecilia Vicuña. The DeWetter Endowed Chair in Poetry at the University of Texas at El Paso, she has taught in the Department of Creative Writing and Bilingual MFA Program for nearly 20 years. Her fourth book of poems, YOU, is forthcoming from Coffee House Press.
Rachel Galvin is a poet, translator, and scholar. Her newest book of poems, Uterotopia, was published by Persea Books in January 2023. Galvin is the author of Elevated Threat Level, a finalist for the National Poetry Series, and Pulleys & Locomotion. She is the translator of Raymond Queneau’s Hitting the Streets, winner of the Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize, and co-translator of Oliverio Girondo’s Decals: Complete Early Poetry, a finalist for the National Translation Award. Her current translation project is supported by a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work appears in journals and anthologies including Best American Experimental Writing 2020, Best American Poetry 2020, Boston Review, Fence, Gulf Coast, Harvard Review, McSweeney’s, The Nation, The New Yorker, and Ploughshares. She is a co-founder of Outranspo, a creative translation collective, and is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago, where she also teaches in the Creative Writing Program and leads Translation Studies.
Hai-Dang Phan was born in Vietnam and raised in Wisconsin. He is the author of the poetry collection Reenactments (Sarabande, 2019) and the translator of Phan Nhiên Hạo’s selected volume of poems, Paper Bells (The Song Cave, 2020). His poetry has appeared in Poetry, The New Yorker, New England Review, Lana Turner, and in the anthologies Best American Poetry 2016, New Poetry from the Midwest 2019, and The Norton Introduction to Literature (13th Edition). The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and the American Literary Translators Association. He teaches at Grinnell College and lives in Iowa City.
Margaret Ross is the author of A Timeshare. Her poems and translations have appeared in The New Republic, The Paris Review, and POETRY, and have been recognized by a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, a Fulbright arts grant, and residencies from Yaddo. She is currently a Harper Schmidt Fellow and collegiate assistant professor at the University of Chicago.