3 April 2017

Students translate the work of European Champion Slam Poetry: Carmien Michels

“An author with a thorough cultural understanding”. “Certainly no cliché”. This is what our students had to say about author Carmien Michels after reading her text 'Not Long Now'.

Michels spent three weeks travelling through Britain, giving performances and workshops at various locations. Michels visit was organised and coordinated by Henriette Louwerse who orchestrated a fruitful 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.

Michels wrote her text 'Niet lang meer' for the European literary project citybooks.eu – a project Sheffield has been involved with since its inception. Michels' wrote her text about the German university town of Münster, which happens to be one of Germanic Studies active Erasmus links. Together with students of Dutch from UCL, Nottingham and Sheffield, Carmien worked on the English translation of this text. Initially, the bachelor and master students collaborated digitally in small groups. Carmien visited personally and professional translator Jonathan Reeder was available for advice. Finally, all participants were present at the plenary Translation Symposium on 8 March 2017.

"Literary translation is an art from"

For most of our students, 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.”

Every year we receive a guest author at Sheffield. In November 2017 we hope to welcome Dutch writer Maarten van der Graaff.