Category Archives: Literary Workshops

An Afternoon of Collaborative Translation

“An Afternoon of Collaborative Translation”
At the Wheeler Centre, 7th December 2019

Thanks to all who made our last event of 2019 such a success.

In our warm up exercise, we did some “jigsaw” poetry, taking the English translations of two contributor poems (one by Vasile Baghiu and the other by Koraly Dimitriadis), and cutting them into individual words. Each group was given the individual words and was invited to create a new poetic work from these fragments.

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We were able to produce several poems in this way, some quite brief (see pictured), others more substantial in length. You can download some of the results below!


Then, our wonderfully diverse group of collaborators produced four independent translations of two Romanian poems.bb861501-9098-4cf8-931a-eb36508af1b8

Nicolae Coande – Tălpi mici 

Cristina Savin: “This is a love poem. There are a few challenges in the text but overall it is not too difficult. The poet, Nicolae Coande, is well known in Romania. The poem is suitable for people with a solid understanding and knowledge of poetry.

Costel Stancu – untitled

Cristina Savin: “This is a delightful poem full of surprises (with no title!). It is a playful little story that would lend itself quite well to children’s poetry. It is about a young boy who has an imaginary friend; there is an unexpected, gentle twist at the end.

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All these translations will appear in future publications, and will be made available to all TransCollaborate members.

If you are interested in joining as a member, follow this link here.

A Collaboration with Marco Polo

TransCollaborate’s activities this year have brought us into contact with Melbourne’s many Chinese communities, including both migrant and international-student cohorts. We have found many ways to connect with these communities through collaborative translation.

One of our closest partners, the Marco Polo project, has been facilitating weekly language exchange workshops since 2011. These workshops match Chinese-English bilinguals, including international students and native English learners of Chinese, to translate prose texts from Chinese into English. We have been given the opportunity to run our own Marco Polo workshops, applying our own unique methodology.

Following in the spirit of our previous Emerging Writers Festival workshop, our Marco Polo workshops translate the “Ci” of Su Dong Po. Our workshops involve the participation of several “target collaborators” with little-to-no experience with Chinese, but who have experience in translating creative texts in various contexts. Each target collaborator facilitates a small group to translate a Ci, marshaling input from collaborators with different language backgrounds and creative skills.

One group’s translation can be found here.

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.

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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.

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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.

International Symposium: Translation workshops

The outcomes of our literary workshops at the TransCollaborate Symposium have been recorded in this video.

TransCollaborate Workshops: The Poetry of Li Qing Xiao

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We also ran practice-based workshops on how collaborative translation functions in Language Learning and Research contexts. Below, you can access some of the materials that were contributed to these workshops to stimulate discussion and inspire new projects

Workshop A. Collaborative Translation and Language Teaching
Workshop B. Collaborative Translation as Research

Translating the poetry of Su Dongpo and Li Quinzhao

Special thanks to Julia (Xiaohong) Min (Monash University), who has shared and commented on her experience of translating poems by Su Dong-po & Li Quinzhao. Her responses will be valuable in developing our research further, and we look forward to her participation the future.

Min Xiao-hong.pngThis collaborative project was undertaken with a multi-lingual, multi-disciplinary team in the 1980s. The work still fires Julia’s imagination, and she is keen to continue this type of translation project in the future.

Julia will be assisting TransCollaborate with the use of Chinese poetry in upcoming collaborations. The outcomes can be seen in our Emerging Writers Festival workshop and our Marco Polo workshop.