Women in Translation Month Q&A

Translation is an art that allows us to share stories all across the world, which is exactly what we aim to do. Translating texts creates a much richer global literary scene, but also allows for a deeper understanding of culture and tradition. As a publisher, we love being able widen our audiences through the means of translation.

This August is Women in Translation Month and to celebrate we reached out to two of Graffeg's translators– Siân Melangell Dafydd and Anwen Pierce. Both Anwen and Siân have translated some of our texts into Welsh for our Welsh language children's imprint, Graffeg Bach. We recently got to ask them about all things books and translation.

1. Who are you? Where are you from? What do you do from day to day?

S: I'm Siân Melangell Dafydd. I'm from the foot of the Berwyn mountains, near Bala. All days look different - ah the joy of freelancing! I teach Creative Writing part time at Bangor University and at the American University of Paris. I walk and forage and write about those two (with my 5 year old). I teach yoga. I write and do other stare-at-a-screen type work! 

A: I'm Anwen Pierce. I come from Flintshire originally, but for years I've lived  in Ceredigion. I'm Editorial Officer at Books Council Wales, so I get the privilege of working with books, and getting a lot of reading done, every day.

2. Why is translation important to you?

S: Translation feels as though it's always been important to me but despite being bilingual, it didn't really become a fascination of mine until I started travelling to Italy regularly after turning eleven. I remember realising after a few years that a salad vegetable I'd been eating in Italy and knew only by its Italian name and flavour was a 'mystery' ingredient that some recipe books called for in English and that I couldn't get hold of. In fact that ingredient was rocket! It wasn't so easy to get hold of in the early 90s! The fact that I could know something in its own language and somehow not know of it in my own language fascinated me. I think it was the beginning of my fascination with how language is and isn't translatable.

A: Translation is important as it allows us to offer the widest possible range of all kinds of texts on all kinds of subjects to Welsh-speaking people around the world.

3. What do you enjoy most about translation?

S: What I enjoy most about translation will often be the conversation around it. Sometimes, it's a conversation with myself, mind you! But even better if it's with another translator or the author of a piece - there are so many lightbulb moments about how language works, the layers we take for granted and which, as translators, we have the privilege to inhabit. Translation is the closest and most intimate reading possible. It's reading deeply and living deeply. 

A: I enjoy translating and adapting because I just love seeing all sorts of texts in my mother tongue, and I appreciate the opportunity to be able to translate works for other Welsh speakers who would otherwise turn to their second language. The work opens doors to other worlds, and I enjoy being able to visit them myself in my spare time.

4. How would you describe your ideal day?

S: My ideal day would be outdoors. Take me back to one of my first translation workshops in Kerala, India, with Sampurna Chattarji, Anita Thampi, Mamta Sagar, Eurig Salisbury. Twm Morys and Robert Minhinnick - the sea and the banana trees. But if that exceptional life opportunity isn't available, well, give me a Welsh hillside and hedgerow to explore with some kindred spirits and it will be very best of days.

A: My ideal day? I'd have a leisurely coffee and go for a long walk in the woods on a sunny day, if I'm not beside the Loire sipping red wine in the sun.

Looking for some translated titles this month? Shop our Graffeg Bach collection below:

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