by Tereza Braga
Current president Holly Behl joined forces with former president Norma Pace for a long-awaited meeting this past March 7. I am not a literary translator but I don’t remember the last time I enjoyed a MITA meeting this much.
After posing pretty for a professional photographer (always a great idea to have new pictures done), our all-dressed-up group managed to stop chatting and sit down for two delectable presentations.
The first speaker was Jorge Correa, a Chilean immigrant who teaches high school Spanish and was featured in a story entitled “A Translator & Lifesaver” (The Remarker magazine, St. Mark’s School). The blurb says it all: “Inspired by Julie Hersh’s book, ‘Struck by Living’, Jorge Correa found the strength to help his wife, Patricia Inda-Correa, in her battle with depression. Now, with his translation, Correa is helping countless others as they fight their battles”. The article is short and worth reading:
Jorge enthralled us with his courage to face the pain and help his wife in her heart-breaking battle with depression. His son heard about Julie’s book on NPR and the rest is a beautiful story. We all received a complimentary copy of the book (Jorge’s translation), which came out last year: Decidí Vivir. The original, Struck by Living, is available in the Green Library. Julie Hersh talks about the amazing coincidence of hearing about Jorge’s interest in the book and finding out that she had a child in the very same school where he teaches. She also explains the approach they took with the translation and its adaptation from Chilean into Mexican Spanish to reach a wider audience:
The second speaker was another unique revelation. My personal thanks go to Norma for spotting this innovative translation entrepreneur mentioned in the Dallas Morning News.
Will Evans talks a mile a minute, especially when he talks about publishing books by foreign authors. He is an American guy with a Russian degree in history, turned foreign book advocate. His attorney wife got a job in Dallas and they moved here two years ago. He noticed that the only Dallas-based bookstore is Wild Detectives, in Oak Cliff, which happily now hosts literary nights with readings by the translators themselves– organized by Will, of course.
This new Dallasite decided to start his own nonprofit publishing house. It is headquartered at The Common Desk, an amazing co-working concept in Deep Ellum of which I am now a happy member (but that’s another article). In search of a catchy name, he asked a friend who said: “Deep Vellum, of course!” I loved this beautiful word – vellum. From the French veau, it refers to a parchment made from calf skin. It reminds me of veludo, in my native Portuguese, meaning velvet.
“I found out there’s all of this great stuff being written in every language in the world – award-winning books, best-sellers – and very little of it gets translated and published into English,” Will explains. The result was Deep Vellum Publishing. Check out the website and look under Authors and Translators:
Will plans to open a bookstore in Deep Ellum similar to Wild Detectives in Oak Cliff, only twice as big and with 20 times more books. (Will is hiring translators – spread the Word!)
A week after the MITA presentation, I met up with Ana Jewell (also present at the meeting), for one of the literary nights at Wild Detectives and bought our first books from the brand new publishing house, now signed by our new publisher friend. The translator for Sergio Pitol was a favorite and read many excerpts of his translation. I have already finished and absolutely loved The Indian, by Icelandic author Jon Gnarr. Mr. Gnarr just moved to Houston to work at Rice University and is on a speaking tour in the U.S. His book is a hilarious and heart-breaking account of growing up with ADHD – then going on to become the Mayor of Reykjavik.
Keep an eye on your email: I hear MITA’s planning another event soon!
Tereza Braga is a Brazilian Portuguese translator and interpreter, past chair of the ATA Portuguese división, speaker, newsletter editor and long-term member of MITA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.