New York is the literary capital of the United States, right? Not necessarily. California is filled with inspiring bookstores and opportunities to interact with authors. In addition, there are many organizations dedicated to literature and to the literary life. One such organization that deserves more exposure is the Center for the Art of Translation in San Francisco.
The Center began in 1994 as a literary magazine known as Two Lines. The aim of the magazine was simple: to showcase both international literature and those who made it possible for people without bilingual skills to appreciate the written art of different cultures and countries. By providing both the original text and the translation, Two Lines allows the reader to see the original without being stupefied by it. In addition, the magazine showcases articles about translation Ė what it is, what it isnít, how it works.
In addition to the journal, the Center has developed an educational program known as Poetry Inside Out. The purpose of this program is to bring poetry as well as translational skills to schoolchildren, to allow them to interact with the beauty of the written word, and to learn the critical thinking skills necessary to take a thought from one language (and culture) to another. Currently, the program offers both artist residencies that take poets and translators directly into the skills and professional development for K-12 teachers.
Visitors to San Francisco can also take part in one of the Centerís special events. The Two Voices series brings writers and translators together to do public readings and interact with interested people. These events are held at various places within the city of San Francisco. The Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who founded the San Francisco bookstore City Lights, has been one of the featured speakers, as has US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky and Pulitzer Prize winner Gary Snyder. A smaller lunchtime reading series is also offered.
Those people interested in world literature and translation who cannot make it to San Francisco can still become involved with the Center and what it offers via the website, which includes a blog written by various members of the community. In addition, the web site offers a store which offers publications by the Center, subscriptions to Two Lines, and various anthologies. Audio transcripts of various events can also be found here.
Like other charitable organizations, the Center is always looking for donations. Funds raised go to the further development of these initiatives and to maintenance of the office on Market Street. More information about the Center can be found at catranslation.org.