Word for Word Travel Exchanges

The Word for Word Literary Translation Exchange Program was conceived by the School of the Arts Writing Program faculty in the belief that the practice of literary translation can enhance and expand writer’s perspectives on their own work and transform them as literary artists.

In this collaborative, travel-based program, students from the Writing Program are paired with foreign-language peers from partner institutions to engage in collaborative mutual translation. The exchanges take place over the course of an academic year, in the course of which School of the Arts writers travel to their partners’ countries to spend a week attending courses and workshops. Each exchange culminates with the students’ partners visiting Columbia to participate in a final workshop and a public presentation of their finished translations. Past participants’ translations have been published in a series of anthologies with facing-page translations.

The first Word for Word Exchange took place in 2011-2012, pairing SoA students with writers studying at the German-language creative writing institute at the University of Leipzig Deutsches Literaturinstitut Leipzig (DLL). While this partnership continued over the following three years, the Writing Program also partnered with the Columbia Global Centers | Amman on an Arabic language exchange, and with Gallaudet University on an exchange in American Sign Language.

In 2014, the School of the Arts launched two new exchanges, pairing Writing Program students with students from Barcelona, Catalonia (Spain), and Turin, Italy (translating English, Italian, and Catalan). These two new programs were created in association with the Columbia Global Centers | Paris, and with support from the Antonia & Vladimir Kualev Cultural Heritage Fund. Our European partners were the Institut Ramon Llull and the Universitat Pompeu Fabra—IDEC in Barcelona (with additional support from the Fundació Han Nefkens), and the Scuola Holden in Turin.

Most recently, the Writing Program launched a new exchange with the University of the Arts Helsinki. Read more about that program here