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Nordic Literature in Translation: Damascus, Atlantis

April 23, 2022—1:00 pm2:00 pm

On April 23, join us for a Nordic Literature in Translation event with author Marie Silkeberg and translator Kelsi Vanada on Silkeberg’s 2021 book Damascus, Atlantis, which was recently longlisted for the 2022 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. With moderator David Rothenberg, the publisher of  Terra Nova Press, they’ll discuss Silkeberg’s poetry collection and Vanada’s translation of her works, for which Vanada won ASF’s  Nadia Christensen Translation Prize in 2018.

Silkeberg has been a major voice in Swedish poetry since the early 1990s. In these poems, translated by Kelsi Vanada and drawn from her two most recent collections, Atlantis and Till Damaskus (written with Ghayath Almadhoun, whose poems from the collection were published in English translation as Adrenalin), she tackles some of the most wrenching events of recent decades—globalization, the escalating war in Syria, and its ongoing aftermath and consequences. The speakers of these poems live in a reality informed by these events and by an older European history. Taking the standpoint of listener and observer forced to confront the horrors in present tense, the poems question how we share the pain of others, and how the meeting between different experiences of trauma influences language. The poems are matched with stills from Silkeberg’s poetry films, putting word and image in dialogue to explore ruins, cityscapes, the echoes of history, all into the depth of language’s power.

In today’s event, Silkeberg and Vanada will read from and discuss the writing, translation, and publication with images of this book which has been called “beautiful, breathtakingly threatening, cruel as only love can be” (Kristian Lundberg, Aftonbladet) with Rothenberg.

Now in its 43rd year, ASF’s Annual Translation Competition awards prizes for outstanding translations of poetry, fiction, drama, or literary prose written by a 20th- or 21st-century Nordic author. The Nadia Christensen Prize recognizes an outstanding translation of a literary text from a Nordic language into the English.

This event will take place as a Zoom webinar; please ask questions in the chat or send them in advance to Registration is required; please sign up at the link above. This conversation will be recorded and available later to stream on our Virtual Programming page and on our YouTube channel.

About the Speakers

Marie Silkeberg is a poet, translator, and poetry filmmaker living in Stockholm. Since her first book appeared in 1990, she has written nine collections of poetry, including 23:23 (2006), Material (2010) and, with Ghayath Almadhoun, Till Damaskus (2014). Her two most recent books are Atlantis (2017) and Revolution House (2021). During her years as Professor in Literary Composition at Valand Academy, Gothenburg University, Silkeberg published nonfiction in Avståndsmätning (2005) and Att fortsätta med att skriva (2011). She has translated several books by the Danish poet Inger Christensen and American poets such as Susan Howe, Rosmarie Waldrop, Claudia Rankine and Anne Boyer. Together with different composers, filmmakers, and poets, she has made text and sound compositions and poetry films; the four most recent, with Ghayath Almadhoun, have been screened all over the world. In 2021, Damascus, Atlantis, a selection of her poems translated into English by Kelsi Vanada, was published by Terra Nova Press.

Kelsi Vanada is a poet and translator from Spanish and Swedish. Her book-length translations include Damascus, Atlantis: Selected Poems by Marie Silkeberg (Terra Nova Press, 2021), which was longlisted for the 2022 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation; as well as Into Muteness by Sergio Espinosa (Veliz Books, 2020) and The Eligible Age by Berta García Faet (Song Bridge Press, 2018). She published Rare Earth, a chapbook of original poems, in 2020 (Finishing Line Press). A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in Poetry, Vanada also holds an MFA Literary Translation from the University of Iowa. She won the 2018 American-Scandinavian Foundation Nadia Christensen Translation Prize for poems from Marie Silkeberg’s Atlantis. Vanada works as Program Manager of the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) in Tucson, Arizona.

About the Moderator

Musician and philosopher David Rothenberg wrote Why Birds SingBug Music, Survival of the Beautiful and many other books, published in at least 11 languages. He has more than 30 recordings out, including One Dark Night I Left My Silent House which came out on ECM, and most recently In the Wake of Memories and Faultlines.

He has performed or recorded with Pauline Oliveros, Peter Gabriel, Ray Phiri, Suzanne Vega, Scanner, Elliott Sharp, Umru, Iva Bittová, and the Karnataka College of Percussion. Nightingales in Berlin is his latest book and film. Rothenberg is Distinguished Professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the founder and publisher of Terra Nova Press


April 23, 2022
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm