Call for translations

Bordertown III

If you have a translation of a literary and/or biographical work that you have previously completed collaboratively, we would like to invite you to submit it for printing in our 2019 edition of “Bordertown”.

This will be the third in our series of collaborative translation collections. Excerpts from our previous two are available here.

Funding for printing has been generously offered via the Community Grants program at the City of Melbourne.

We will also be pursuing a number of new collaborative translation ventures next year so, as always, if you are interested in being involved email us at

See you all in 2019!


Come and collaborate!

Calling LEARNERS of English: Work with a NATIVE SPEAKER and BOOST YOUR CONFIDENCE with English

Calling WRITERS of English: GET PAID to share your knowledge of English and work with a text in a NEW LANGUAGE

At TransCollaborate Inc. in Melbourne we are excited to offer our next collaborative translation venture: group collaboration involving a professional writer together with four students learning English as an additional language.


How it works: The group collaborates on an English translation of a short literary text. The text is originally written in the students’ native language, but the writer matched with the group is not able to understand that language.

So the LEARNERS explain the text to the writer in English (great conversation practice) while the WRITER helps them create the most effective English translation (a unique writing challenge).

Exchange your knowledge of language and literature and introduce a new text to English readers!


When: Ongoing throughout 2018-2019

Where: On site in Melbourne CBD

For more info: contact Jessica at



Emerging Writers’ Festival 2018

On a cold, bright Melbourne morning, a motley crew of logophiles and poetry buffs gathered at the State Library Victoria to translate a 900-year-old Chinese ci. 

The sold-out workshop, organised in concert with the Emerging Writers’ Festival and Monash University, saw participants collaborating in small groups to tackle the translation of a ci-poem by Song-dynasty poet Li Qingzhao, one of the greatest female poets in Chinese history.

The 3-hour workshop began with a series of short introductions by the event organisers, each of whom provided insight and context on a particular aspect of the collaborative translation process.


Literary translator, Cordite editor and Monash University lecturer Alice Whitmore kicked things off with an overview of some of the most significant theoretical approaches to poetry translation, drawing on the creative, symphonic philosophies espoused by great twentieth century poet-translators like Octavio Paz and Ezra Pound.

Poetry translator Julia Min gave an enthralling explanation of the historical context, exquisite form and symbolic complexity of ci poetry, and shed some light on the collective translation process that yielded her 1989 translations of Li Qingzhao’s poems. Julia read three carefully selected ci-poems, spanning the breath of Li Qingzhao’s life, and groups were asked to choose one for translation.

Finally, Transcollaborate President Jessica Griffiths outlined how the morning would unfold: working at tables of 3 to 4, and armed with a colourful pile of art supplies, groups would have 2 hours to come up with a collaborative translation of one of Li Qingzhao’s poems. The final draft would be presented on a single sheet of A5 paper for later compilation into a Transcollaborate zine.


The workshop yielded five fantastic and remarkably original poems—experimental forms, concept poetry, illustration and back-translation all featured in the final products, making for a truly diverse collection of collaboratively-crafted masterpieces.

All in all, a fun and creative morning. Stay tuned for more events like this! And click here to see more photos from this event.


Melbourne Emerging Writer’s Festival free event: Collaborative Translation and Poetry Workshop.

21 Jun 10:00 AM. At State Library Victoria, Experimedia 

Curious about translation, but don’t know where to start? Poetry translation is often thought of as an impossibly specialised craft, but approach it creatively and it becomes an inclusive and inspiring practice.

In this collaborative, hands-on workshop you will be teamed up with writers, visual artists and poetry lovers of various language abilities to tackle the translation of an ancient Chinese cí. The Transcollaborate team will walk you through the endless creative and linguistic possibilities for your translation project, and your masterpieces will be published in a zine.

Explore language, challenge your preconceptions, and be prepared to get creative! Open to visual artists, poets, linguists, and avid readers of all linguistic backgrounds.

Bookings essential: click here to book!

With Jessica Griffiths, Julia Min and Alice Whitmore