ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorships

ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorships

The ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorship Program is designed to facilitate and establish a close working relationship between an experienced translator and an emerging translator on a project selected by the emerging translator. The mentorship duration is approximately one year. The emerging translator is expected to choose a project that can be completed in a year’s time, and they will only be advised on that particular project.

The mentor and mentee will meet at the beginning of their mentorship at the annual ALTA conference, and continue their work during the rest of the mentorship year, either in person, over Skype, or by phone as appropriate. A minimum of six meetings is expected for the course of the year. The mentorship will conclude with a presentation of the mentee’s work in a reading corresponding with National Translation Month. A number of magazine editors have agreed to review submissions directly from mentees at the end of their mentorship year, and to work with them on potential future projects. The award covers travel to the ALTA conference at the beginning of the mentorship.

The program is open to emerging translators at no cost to them. An emerging translator is someone who has published no more than one full length work of translation. MFA and MA students in translation can apply, but priority may be given to those who do not have access to the kind of guidance already present in a translation degree program. Though English is the target language, the emerging translator need not live in the United States. The selected mentee’s proposed project will be worked on based on availability (applicants are not expected to secure rights for their proposal).

This program is distinct from the ALTA Travel Fellowships. Applicants may apply to both programs in the same year, but only may only receive one award. Previous years' Fellows are welcome to apply for the Mentorship.

Previous years have included mentorships working from the following languages: 

  • Catalan, with mentor Ronald Puppo (2015-2016)
  • French, with mentors Emmanuelle Ertel (2016-2017) and Alyson Waters (2015-2016)
  • Polish, with mentor Bill Johnston (2016-2017, 2015-2016)
  • Russian, with mentor Marian Schwartz (2016-2017)
  • A Singaporean national language (Malay, Mandarin Chinese, and Tamil), with mentor Jeremy Tiang (2016-2017) and applications judged by Alvin Pang

These mentorships were offered by ALTA in partnership with the Institut Ramon LlullThe French Embassy Books OfficePolish Cultural Institute New York, the Russian Federation Institute of Literary Translation, and the National Arts Council of Singapore.

2017-2018 Mentorships

Applications for the 2017-18 ALTA Mentorships were accepted through May 31, 2017. The selected mentees will be announced in July. 

PLEASE NOTE: there are two distinct mentorships for 2017-2018, Language-Specific and Non-Language-Specific

2017-2018 LANGUAGE--SPECIFIC MENTORSHIPS are available working from the following languages:

  • Catalan, with mentor Mara Faye Lethem
  • Korean prose, with mentor Sora Kim-Russell
  • Korean poetry, with mentor Don Mee Choi
  • Russian prose, with mentor Marian Schwartz

(Note: Russian poetry projects should be proposed to the Non-Language-Specific Mentorships).

These mentorships are being offered by ALTA in partnership with the Institut Ramon Llull, the Literary Translation Institute of Korea, and the Russian Federation Institute of Literary Translation.

2017-2018 NON-LANGUAGE-SPECIFIC MENTORSHIPS are available as follows:

  • Prose, with mentor Bill Johnston
  • Poetry, with mentor Steven Bradbury

Additional details about Non-Language-Specific Mentorships:

  • These mentorships will be preferentially awarded to a translator working from an underrepresented or underfunded language.
  • Preference will not be given to projects from the mentor's language.
  • Projects may not be proposed from languages already offered in language-specific mentorships (i.e. Catalan, Korean, or Russian prose. Russian poetry projects may be proposed to the Non-Language-Specific Mentorships).
  • AmazonCrossing will be granted right of first refusal on the completed manuscript resulting from these two mentorships.

These mentorships are being offered by ALTA in partnership with AmazonCrossing and the Amazon Literary Partnership.

All applications must be submitted through our online submission platform by May 31, 2017 and must include:

  • CV
  • A project proposal of no more than 1000 words. Projects must be reasonably expected to be completed within the scope of the 1-year mentorship. Proposals should include information about the original author and importance of the source text, as well as how the emerging translator would benefit from mentorship. One round of judging will be blind, so the translator’s name should NOT appear anywhere on this document.
  • A sample translation of 8-10 pages double spaced (prose or poetry), along with the corresponding source text. One round of judging will be blind, so the translator’s name should NOT appear anywhere on this document.

Please contact Assistant Managing Director Rachael Daum with any questions:

2017-2018 MENTORS

Mara Faye Lethem has translated novels from Catalan by Jaume Cabré, Albert Sánchez Piñol, Marc Pastor, Toni Sala, and Alicia Kopf, among others. Her work has been recognized by an English PEN Award and two International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award nominations. 

Don Mee Choi is the author of Hardly War (Wave Books, 2016) and The Morning News is Exciting (Action Books, 2010). She also translates contemporary Korean women’s poetry.  She has received a Whiting Award, Lannan Literary Fellowship, and Lucien Stryk Translation Prize.

Sora Kim-Russell is a literary translator based in Seoul. Her translations include Shin Kyung-sook's I'll Be Right There (Other Press, 2014), Gong Ji-young's Our Happy Time (Short Books, 2014), Bae Suah's Nowhere to Be Found (AmazonCrossings, 2015), and Hwang Sok-yong's Princess Bari (Periscope, 2015).

Marian Schwartz is a freelance translator Russian classic and contemporary fiction, a past president of the American Literary Translators Association, and the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts translation fellowships and the 2014 Read Russia Prize for Contemporary Russian Literature.

Bill Johnston is Henry Remak Professor of Comparative Literature at Indiana University. He has published about thirty book-length translations from the Polish, including poetry, prose, and drama. His most recent translation is Tomasz Różycki's mock epic poem Twelve Stations (Zephyr Press, 2015).

Steven Bradbury is a freelance translator of contemporary Chinese poetry and a recent recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts and Henry Luce Foundation Chinese Poetry and Translation Fellowships. His most recent book-length translation, of Hsia Yü’s Salsa, was short-listed for the Lucien Stryk Prize.