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Residencies In Review: Collège International Des Traducteurs Littéraires

Residencies in Review highlights international residencies for writers and translators of French by sharing the experiences of past participants. Some of these programs provide literary artists with structure, scheduled workshops, meetings, and excursions, while others provide the time and space to work away from the concerns of day-to-day life and let the writers and translators plan their own work schedules.

In this edition, Tegan Raleigh shares her experiences at the Collège International des Traducteurs Littéraires (CITL) in Arles.

Born and raised in California, Tegan Raleigh studied at Reed College, l'Université de Rennes II, and the University of Iowa. She is currently working on her doctorate in Comparative Literature at UC Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on the commonalities between works of translation and texts by authors who write in a language other than their own mother tongue. She was awarded a fellowship from the American Literary Translators' Association for her translation from Jean Pélégri's Les Étés perdus and a PEN grant for her translation of Assia Djebar's Oran, langue morte. Most recently, her modern adaptation of the E.T.A. Hoffmann story “Spielerglück” appeared in the collection From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-Day America.

Dates of your residencies: July 1-August 15, 2011 and July 1-July 31, 2013

Project you will work on at the Centre International des Traducteurs Littéraires this July: Les Pharisiens, by Georges Darien, a novel about anti-Semitism in the press during the late 19th century in France, to be published by Litwin Books in 2014

Please tell us a bit about your previous experience at the Centre International des Traducteurs Littéraires:The Centre International des Traducteurs Littéraires (CITL) in Arles is located in a former hospital where Vincent Van Gogh was once a patient. About one half of the building is dedicated to a space for translators, while the other half, called the Espace Van Gogh, is open to the public. The window of my room overlooked a courtyard that he depicted in Le Jardin de l’hôpital d’Arles. It’s an honor to work somewhere with its own legacy, and the sight of the tourists in their straw hats outside would remind me how important art is to so many people -- a fact that isn't always so obvious when I'm working in my office or on my computer at home.

There was a rotating roster of about twenty translators staying at the main building as well as an “annexe” closer to the city center. CITL hosts various translation workshops throughout the year, and in November there is an international colloquium (ATLAS) that brings together hundreds of translators and writers to discuss a specific theme. During my stay, there were no roundtables or workshops, but I would translate in the morning with a cup of Nescafé and, come lunchtime, would have breakthroughs or challenges to share with the other residents. Often I’d be thinking about the meaning of a phrase and ask somebody in the kitchen their opinion, only to wind up discussing it to the point where another translator would come in to prepare a salad, or oysters, and the conversation would continue out onto the terrace where we’d end up with a huge impromptu feast. There was a very easy sense of community that I’ve rarely experienced elsewhere, and it was all the more special because even though we were all working on very different texts from or into at least eight different languages, we shared a similar relationship to literature.

Lunch would end around 2 or 3 and then most of us would work until around sunset, at which time we'd start making dinner and talking about the progress we'd made over the course of the afternoon, or about what was going on in town. Arles has an amazing variety of things to do, from the Camargue-style bullfights (where the bull is not killed) in the old Roman arena to the annual photography festival and the Saturday market, which is the largest in Provence. Since there was so much going on, I never felt like I absolutely had to tear myself away from my work in order to make it to one particular event. It was almost as if once I was done for the day, I would just walk straight from my desk to a concert by the Rhône or a film at the Cinéma Actes Sud. Otherwise, I had no distractions from my work and was able to focus in a way that I can't when there are other demands competing for my attention at home. It's really a privilege to live and breathe literary translation for a few weeks, and I'm greatly looking forward to my return this summer!

The Collège International des Traducteurs Littéraires (CITL) in Arles welcomes literary translators from around the world for residencies that range in duration from one week to three months. The CITL also plans cultural events, conferences, and round table discussions in Arles and the surrounding region.

Translators interested in attending the CITL must apply with a specific project under contract with a publisher. Authors who wish to spend an extended period of time working closely with their translators may apply for joint residencies, but cannot apply for individual residencies. Linguists and researchers are also welcome to apply. For more information, to download a residency application or to contact the CITL, please visit their website.

For information about other residency programs, please visit the Residencies in Review homepage.