In this episode of the Asymptote Podcast, we explore the identities of translators and authors via an interview with translator Lawrence Schimel whose groundbreaking translation from the Spanish of Trifonia Melibea Obono’s La Bastarda was recently reviewed on the Asymptote blog. (Obono is the first female author from Equatorial Guinea to be translated into English.) Podcast Editor Layla Benitez-James, returning from her sabbatical, sits down with Schimel in Madrid to discuss the challenges of translating this novel in the light of John Keene’s essay, “Translating Poetry, Translating Blackness.” We also delve into Schimel’s work at the helm of A Midsummer Night’s Press, the challenge of getting more female authors translated into English, and how to advocate for a more inclusive global literature.
Produced by: Layla Benitez-James Featuring: Lawrence Schimel Music: Studio Mali – Wake Up – “It’s Africa Calling” by IntraHealth International. Creative Commons licenses can be found at http://freemusicarchive.org
Lawrence Schimel is a bilingual poet and translator based in Madrid. He translates in both directions between Spanish and English. Schimel has translated poems by Vicente Molina Foix, Luis Antonio de Villena, Jordi Doce, Sofía Rhei, Jesús Encinar, Care Santos, among others. Writing in both Spanish and English, he has published over 100 books as author or anthologist in many different genres, including one collection of poems written in Spanish, Desayuno en la cama (Egales), as well as a chapbook in English Fairy Tales for Writers (A Midsummer Night’s Press). His poems have appeared in diverse periodicals, ranging from The Christian Science Monitor to Physics Today to Gay Scotland, and have been widely anthologized. He has won the Lambda Literary Award (twice), the Spectrum Award, the Independent Publisher Book Award, and the Rhysling Award for poetry. His writings have been translated into Basque, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, English, Esperanto, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Turkish, and Ukrainian.
Layla Benitez-James is an Asymptote Podcast Editor, poet, translator, and artist living in Alicante, Spain. Translations can be found in Waxwing and Anomaly. She currently works with the Unamuno Author Series in Madrid as their Director of Literary Outreach. Her first chapbook, God Suspected My Heart Was a Geode But He Had to Make Sure was selected by Major Jackson for the 2017 Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize and published by Jai-Alai Books in Miami, April 2018.