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 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 year. The mentorship will conclude with a presentation of the mentee’s work in a reading at the annual ALTA conference. 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 end of the mentorship.

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

As we celebrate four successful years of ALTA's Mentorship Program, and after consultation with past mentors, funders, and mentees, we are implementing some changes to make the program even stronger. For the 2020 Mentorships, the program timeline will shift. Applications will be accepted from September-December, 2019, and the program will run from February-November, 2020, culminating at the ALTA conference in Tucson, AZ. Please check back for more information, and to apply, as the year progresses. There will be an informational session at ALTA42 in Rochester, NY, so please plan to attend!

Thus far, the following four 2020 mentorships are confirmed and will be available (mentors to be determined). The four 2020 mentorships are offered by ALTA in partnership with AmazonCrossing, the Hong Kong Poetry Festival Foundation, the Institut Ramon Llull, and The Russian Federation Institute for Literary Translation.

  • Non-language-specific, non-genre-specific
  • Poetry from Hong Kong
  • Catalan poetry or prose
  • Russian prose

Additional information about the Non-Language-Specific Mentorship, offered in partnership with AmazonCrossing:

  • 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)
  • AmazonCrossing will be granted right of first refusal on the completed manuscript resulting from this mentorship.

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 one-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.

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 Program.

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.