Emerging Translator Mentorship Program

Emerging Translator Mentorship Program

The ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorship Program is designed to establish and facilitate 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 nine months. The emerging translator is expected to choose a project that can be completed in that time, and they will only be advised on that particular project. ALTA's Emerging Translator Mentorship Program was founded by former ALTA board member Allison M. Charette. 

Program Structure

All mentors and mentees meet via video conference at the beginning of their mentorship in February, and continue their work through individual meetings during the rest of the mentorship year, either in person, over Skype, or by phone. A minimum of six meetings is expected for the course of the program. The mentorship will conclude with a presentation of the mentee’s work in a reading at the annual ALTA conference in the fall. ALTA's mentees also have the option to take part in our "First Look" program, which allows participating magazine and book publishers to be the first to read excerpts of the translations mentees have worked on throughout their mentorship, for possible publication. The award covers ALTA conference registration, as well as travel to the conference location and on-site accommodations, up to $1500.

current and Former Mentees

Click here to read about ALTA's current and former mentees.

Mentorship Program Accomplishments

Click here to read about the many accomplishments of ALTA's current and former mentees. 

2020 Mentorships

The program will run from February-November, 2020, culminating at the 43rd annual ALTA conference. 

The 2020 mentorships are offered by ALTA in partnership with Amazon Crossing, the A. M. Qattan Foundation, the Institut Ramon Llull, the Hong Kong Poetry Festival Foundation, the Literature Translation Institute of Korea, and the Russian Federation Institute for Literary Translation

  • *Non-language-specific, non-genre-specific, with mentor Bill Johnston
  • Arabic poetry or prose, with mentor Kareem James Abu-Zeid
  • Catalan poetry or prose, with mentor Mara Faye Lethem
  • Poetry from Hong Kong, with mentor Jennifer Feeley
  • Korean poetry, with mentor Joyelle McSweeney
  • Korean prose, with mentor Janet Hong
  • Russian prose, with mentor Marian Schwartz

Read more about our 2020 mentors here. Our 2020 mentees are listed here.

2021 Mentorships


Applications for the 2021 Mentorship Program will accepted from September-December 2020.

Applications must be submitted online through our submission platform, 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 nine-month 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.

*Additional information about the Non-Language-Specific Mentorship, offered in partnership with Amazon Crossing:

  • This mentorship 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. Russian or Polish prose)
  • Amazon Crossing will be granted right of first refusal on the completed manuscript resulting from this 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. While ALTA’s Mentorship Program is open to all applicants, we especially encourage applications from translators of color, translators with disabilities, LGBTQ+ translators, and those who don't have an MA, an MFA, or some other equivalent type of training, such as a mentorship from the National Centre for Writing’s Emerging Translator Mentorships (UK). 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 (it's good practice to secure the rights before beginning a project, but applicants are not expected to secure rights in order to submit their proposal). 

This program is distinct from the ALTA Travel Fellowships. Current mentees are not eligible to apply for an ALTA Travel Fellowship. Previous years' Fellows are welcome to apply for the Mentorship Program, however.

Past Mentorships

Previous years have included mentorships for translators working from the following languages: 

  • Kazakh (Non-language-specific prose mentorship), with mentor Madhu H. Kaza (2018-2019)
  • Greek (Non-language-specific poetry mentorship), with mentor Kareem James Abu-Zeid (2018-2019)
  • Catalan, with mentors Mara Faye Lethem (2017-2018) and Ronald Puppo (2015-2016)
  • French, with mentors Emmanuelle Ertel (2016-2017) and Alyson Waters (2015-2016)
  • Korean, with mentors Sora Kim-Russell (prose, 2017-2018) and Don Mee Choi (poetry, 2017-2018)
  • Polish, with mentor Bill Johnston (2018-2019, 2016-2017, 2015-2016)
  • Russian, with mentor Marian Schwartz (2018-2019, 2017-2018, 2016-2017)
  • A Singaporean national language (Malay, Mandarin Chinese, and Tamil), with mentor Jeremy Tiang (2016-2017) and applications judged by Alvin Pang
  • Occitan and French (Non-language-specific poetry mentorship), with mentor Steven Bradbury (2017-2018) 
  • Indonesian (Non-language-specific prose mentorship), with mentor Bill Johnston (2017-2018) 

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

You can watch video recordings of past Mentorship Program closing readings on ALTA's YouTube channel.