/ 29 September 2023

Versopolis Podcast #8: Lost in Poetry Translation

Dr Aron Aji & Dr Matthias Göritz

Literary translation is a creative genre distinctly different from other art forms. Unlike music, painting, sculpture or dance, the literary work is accessible only to those who know the language in which it is written. Why is preserving a multitude of languages crucial in our globalised world in which the dominant lingua franca tends to homogenise foreign literature into the category of ‘International Fiction’ on bookstore shelves? Is there variation in the expressive power of languages and why does it need to be preserved? Through the international translating workshop, LitTransformer, Professors Aron Aji and Matthias Göritz create spaces of linguistic hospitality where translators can experience another language viscerally, forging connections through the unfamiliar.

Dr Aron Aji is the Director of MFA in Literary Translation at the University of Iowa, the largest programme of its kind in the United States. A native of Turkey, he has translated works by Bilge Karasu, Murathan Mungan, Elif Shafak, Latife Tekin and other Turkish writers, including Karasu’s The Garden of Departed Cats (2004 National Translation Award) and A Long Day’s Evening (NEA Literature Fellowship; shortlist, 2013 PEN Translation Prize). Aji was president of The American Literary Translators Association from 2016 to 2019.

Dr Matthias Göritz is a poet, translator and novelist. He has written four poetry collections: Loops, Pools, Tools and Spools; four novels, including Der kurze Traum des Jakob Voss (The Brief Dream of Jakob Voss) and Parker; and three novellas. He has received the Hamburg Literature Prize, the Mara Cassens Prize, the Robert Gernhardt Prize, the William Gass Award and the International Pretnar Award. He teaches at WashU. He is Professor of Practice of Comparative Literature at Washington University in St. Louis.