Meet The Publisher: Antares Press’s Margarita Feliciano on Publishing from Spanish, French, and Indigenous Languages

I’m interested in bringing to the attention of readers in the world the fact that there are other languages—not known languages.

ANTARES Publishing House of Spanish Culture is a trilingual press located at York University’s Glendon Campus in Toronto, Canada. ANTARES aims to bring literary and scholarly works from the Spanish-speaking world to North American readers. With this in mind, the press publishes non-fiction, fiction, poetry, and theater either written in or translated from Spanish, English, and French. In recent years, ANTARES’s interests have expanded to include the literature of indigenous languages such as Quechua and Ojibwe. Asymptote’s Editor-at-Large for Argentina, Sarah Moses, met with director Margarita Feliciano to chat about ANTARES’s catalog and their commitment to publishing translations of works written in Spanish and indigenous languages.

Sarah Moses: How did ANTARES get started?

Margarita Feliciano: The press started in the year 2005, but officially we started to publish in the year 2006. I’ve been a professor at York University since 1969 and I’ve always taught literature. In 1989, I started to publish a magazine called Indigo—before Indigo the store; I didn’t have a chance to register it. The subtitle of the magazine was The Spanish/Canadian Presence in the Arts. Things were not done in translation but published in their original language—it could be Spanish, English, or French.

I was forced to retire in 2005 because at the time we had lost a strike and one of the requirements was mandatory retirement for people aged sixty-five. The law is now gone but I unfortunately fell in that category. So in view of that, I decided to create ANTARES—to continue to do what I was doing and at the same time keep me at university because in my life all I’ve done is either be a student or a teacher. So I wanted to continue my work.

SM: ANTARES’s catalog is quite varied and includes numerous non-fiction titles as well as anthologies that bring together works written in different languages. Can you share a few books you’re excited about?

MF: I created a big book for the Pan Am / Parapan Am Games called Sharing Spaces: Toronto 2015 Pan Am / Parapan Am Games. It’s in Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, Guarani, and Dutch—all the languages in the Americas. It’s about regional games in the Americas, which are different from regular sports. Regular sports are universally the same; however, regional games and sports are characteristic of a country. So they’re culturally a manifestation of that country.

Another book we did is The Whirling of the Serpent: Quetzalcoatl Resurrected. Do you know the myth of Quetzalcoatl? Quetzalcoatl was a god who led the Aztecs. He was a positive god—the god of the dawn who was always clashing with the god of noon, Tezcatlipoca. Quetzalcoatl was also called the plumed serpent. He said one day that he was going to leave and come back. He did not look Indian: he was like an albino figure, from what I understand. He left on a raft, he said he would be coming back to Mexico in the year Ce Acatl, which means one reed. That happened to coincide with the year that Cortés arrived in Mexico. He was blond so they thought that he was the god. So the idea of the god of Quetzalcoatl spread all over the Americas and this book shows how it manifested itself in other parts of Latin America.

We published Tales of Ancient Women, a translation of two plays written by two Italian playwrights. The idea is to publish not only languages but also themes that people don’t know about. This is about women in ancient Greece who were mothers or sisters related to tyrants and who lost their Athenian citizenship because of that. This took place about four thousand years ago. One of the plays is called Two Foreign Women. It is about two women who find themselves in a virtual space—one was a concubine—and how they come together. Both of them have lost their citizenship. Little by little they tell of each other and you can see how the women were treated in those days. The other play has to do with something that took place in the same period. It’s a monologue, a soliloquy by Clytemnestra, who killed her husband Agamemnon. However, the play doesn’t take place in ancient Greece, but in modern-day Naples and the wars are those between the Mafia.

SM: What translations are you working on at the moment?

MF: The book that we are going to publish on October 24 is a book on the bicentennial of Argentina’s independence. It’s a collection of academic and creative work and also the celebration of Canada’s one hundred and fiftieth anniversary. Because of the French influence—Argentina has a lot of French influence in the language—we want to join the two countries by bringing out as much as possible the similarities between them. We’re going to be publishing that in Spanish, first of all. Because Programa Sur wants the book printed in Spanish first, we have to do that and then ask them to give us funds to translate it. So that is our next big project.

SM: In addition to bringing works written in Spanish to a wider audience, you’re interested in publishing translations of indigenous languages like Quechua and Ojibwe. Can you tell me a bit more about that?

MF: I was aware of aboriginal languages because we have a lot of literature written in those languages already. But we’re talking about what people write nowadays in autochthonous languages.

I have a neighbor here who teaches translation too. She’s from Bolivia and she says that there are about ten million Quechua speakers and now the Quechua language is in the process of becoming official in Peru. I also know people in Ecuador, where I’ve been several times, and they speak Kichwa there, which is a different form of Quechua.

I am also interested in religious syncretism, so I went on a field trip to Latin America—to Guatemala—many years ago, to see what the similarities are between pre-Columbian religions and cultures with Hispanic cultures. When you ask a Central American, a Guatemalan let’s say, the question “¿Cómo hacen costumbre?,” which is something like, “What is your religion like,” they start by saying, “Well, we believe in God and the Virgin Mary.” But then they go off and say all these different things and it’s because there is a mixture of the two religions. So I’m very fascinated by that and I’ve done a lot of research on that.

I started by publishing a short story in Guarani and we published it in the book on the Pan Am / Parapan Am Games. But it makes me worried because I don’t know what it says. So you have to be very careful. It takes a long time. What I want to do is find somebody who will translate literally from that language—then I would know what the basis is and I would create a text from that.

We want to have books of translations from native languages, including even African languages. Anything that we can get our hands on. So I need somebody that’s trustworthy when it comes to bringing the text to English—because I cannot read those languages—somebody who can translate literally what it says. I mean literally and then you can create that atmosphere and publish them because I think it’s very important to do that.

I also want to do Canadian autochthonous languages like Ojibwe—there’s quite a lot written in Ojibwe. Why not gather some of it so that people who are not Ojibwe know how these people live. But I don’t want a sociological treatise—I want it to be literary.

I’m interested in bringing to the attention of readers in the world the fact that there are other languages—not known languages. How do you make those things known?


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