David Shook writes poems that explore the vibrancy of the city and its inhabitants. His collection Our Obsidian Tongues was longlisted for the 2013 International Dylan Thomas Prize, and poems from that book have been translated into French, Isthmus Zapotec, Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish, Swedish, and Uyghur, as well as being adapted into a short film in Rwanda.
Shook founded Los Angeles-based nonprofit publishing house Phoneme Media, the first publisher to win consecutive Best Translated Book Awards for Poetry, and has himself translated books from Spanish and Isthmus Zapotec, including work by Mario Bellatin, Tedi López Mills, and Víctor Terán. He served as Translator in Residence for the Poetry Parnassus in 2012, part of London’s Cultural Olympiad, featuring a poet from every participating olympic nation, where he premiered his covertly filmed short documentary Kilómetro Cero, about persecuted Equatorial Guinean poet Marcelo Ensema Nsang.
A graduate of the University of Oklahoma and the University of Oxford, Shook has performed his poetry in dozens of countries, from the Bangla Academy in Dhaka, Bangladesh to London’s Southbank, South by Southwest to PEN Haiti. His writing has appeared in Ambit, the Daily Beast, the Guardian, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Poetry, Poetry Review, and World Literature Today, among many other publications. He was recently named an NEA Translation Fellow for 2017, for his translation of the São Toméan poet Conceição Lima’s selected poems. He is a contributing editor to Ambit, Bengal Lights, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and World Literature Today. He is currently a Visiting Artist at Mount Saint Mary University’s Creative Writing MFA Program and a Visiting Teaching Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Writing Program. Follow Shook on Twitter @yearofpoetry and Instagram @dogamongmen
Translation Workshops: Translation as Poetic Practice
For many poet-translators, literary translation is an extension of their own practice as poets. What does it mean that every word of an English-language translation belongs to the translator, and what ethical questions and responsibilities does that raise? At what point does poetic license become reckless or distortionary? Using texts from a wide variety of emerging and established Mexican poets, we will translate collaboratively and individually to craft English-language poems that sing with the same music and poetry as their original-language counterparts.
Talk: An Open Window: Translation and the Future of Literature
Journeying through Paraguay and São Tomé as well as the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Chihuahua, I will offer an overview how translations have influenced English-language literature throughout the twentieth century and into the present day, as well as offering a model for how the practice of translation contributes to the evolution of both the idiolect and the language at large.