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KSU Wick Poetry Center - Traveling Stanzas

It is always a great privilege when Localingua has the opportunity to take an active role in helping the community. Since Localingua is based in Kent, Ohio, working with the community includes taking part in projects and collaboration activities with Kent State University. In addition to having a long-term partnership with the Institute for Applied Linguistics, Localingua is proud to have participated in translating poetry for the Wick Poetry Center's Traveling Stanzas. This project involved translating poetry from English into Arabic, Chinese, Italian, and Spanish, written by poets of all ages and backgrounds. As an art, poetry is malleable, multidimensional, and as unique in style as its author, making it a unique kind of text for translation. Maintaining each writer's style and voice in another language was the beautiful challenge of this project. Literary projects are few and far between in the language service industry, which is dominated by technical and marketing materials; working on the Traveling Stanzas was a project that was truly enjoyed at Localingua. Due to collaboration with graphic design company Each+Every, the poetry can now be seen throughout the city in various locations, as well as online.

Learn More About this Project

Localingua was chosen to work hand in hand with the Wick Poetry Center in order to translate the poems created as a part of the Traveling Stanza’s project. Poems were created through workshops with community members of all ages, and then paired with graphic design work for sharing on public transportation in Northeast Ohio. The project has since grown and evolved. In order to expand the project’s goal of inclusion, it was decided that with the creation of a new website would also incorporate translations of many of the poems into four languages: Arabic, Chinese, Italian, and Spanish.


Localingua management held multiple meetings with David Hassler and his colleagues at the Wick Poetry Center before beginning the project. This face-to-face meetings were important in order create a strong working relationship, and a clear understanding of the goals (current and long-term) for the Traveling Stanzas.


Selecting resources for literary translation from English into Arabic, Chinese, Italian, Spanish

Literary translations are often done as personal undertakings by translators due to their love of a certain work or author, without any guarantee of compensation. It was really wonderful to be able to contact literary translators and let them know that we had an exciting batch of about 100 poems to translate, and that they would be fairly compensated for their work. We were happy to be able to partner with several professional linguists from the Kent State University translation program to work on this project. We also were able to connect experienced literary translators through the ATA and ALTA’s membership networks. We contacted several translators for each language, and then based on their qualifications and availability, designated one translator and one editor per language pair who would be committed to the project for its duration.


Developing a system for translating and editing

We wanted the effort to feel like a collaboration between the translator and the editor, so we decided to allow for the editor to track changes and make comments and suggestions. The marked up translation was then sent back to the translator so that he or she could have the final say on whether or not to make changes. We worked with the same translator and editor for each language for the duration of the project in order to maintain consistency, and to develop the relationship and positive collaboration between each translator and editor.


Reviewing translations after they were integrated into the multilingual website

One of the many beautiful things about this project is that the new Traveling Stanzas website was conceived as being multilingual from before its creation, and this was taken into account as it was designed. This is an ideal process, and Localingua was able sit in a couple planning meetings with Each + Every designers and David Hassler in order to offer advice for the team. For example, Romance languages tend to expand up to 25% in length when translated from English, so more space will be need to accommodate these languages. Also, Arabic has a right to left orientation, which poses a special set of challenges and requires to careful proofing to be sure that the text appears correctly after it has been placed on the site. We were able to plan together, and then have our linguists review the web pages with the poems before it went live in order to be sure that everything appeared as it should.