Adding value through poetry translation – playing with words and rhythms

Ellen Singer and Joanna Pawulska Saunders

16 September 2022, 10:00 -16:00 CET

Course content

Click on a translator’s website and chances are you’ll read about precision, accuracy and consistency. But what happens when these aren’t the main considerations? What if you want to awaken emotion, to tap into your readers’ feelings? So much of today’s content includes an element of persuasion, where an accurate rendition isn’t quite enough. Think sales and marketing, for example, or tourism. Looking at poetry can help us focus on elements other than pure meaning, including rhythm, rhyme, musicality and message.

Translating poetry can free us from traditional constraints, but also compels us to dig deeply into our linguistic reserves, weighing words carefully and examining the effect they have on our readers. This audience-centric approach can add value to our everyday work, encouraging us to create an emotional balance between our source and target texts, rather than just transforming the meaning. It also allows us to have some much-needed fun with words, exploring the effects of particular word combinations and looking to mimic that effect in our target language.

Listening to the poems in languages we do not understand also adds value, we realize we can hear where the translator stumbled, where the poem soars.

In this workshop, we’ll present and discuss the main elements on which a poetry translator needs to focus, and how this can help us in our day-to-day work. Attendees will have the opportunity to work on a series of poetry translation exercises, to be completed in language groups and read aloud. This will be followed by discussion: what were the chief difficulties, which techniques were most effective, etc.

Who are Joanna and Ellen?

Having qualified as a translator and interpreter from the Universities of Bath, Kent and Innsbruck, Joanna has spent over two decades as a professional linguist. While written translation has always been her first love, she has also worked as an interpreter, linguistic abstractor and teacher. Nowadays, she focuses on translation full-time, translating from French, Polish and German into English, specializing in the lifestyle sector, notably food and wine, environmental/agricultural issues, literature, art and music.

Joanna worked on The Translator’s Little Book of Poetry with seven other translators in 2020.

Website: Lifestyle Translations

Ellen has been a technical translator since 1995 at AzTech Solutions, a small translation agency that provides a wide range of services. Although she specializes in technical translation and has used CAT tools since the nineties, Ellen’s interests and skills are far-ranging. For the past five years she has taken up the challenge of projects requiring creativity and rhyming skills, as well as transcreation and copywriting projects.

Websites: AzTech Solutions, Write outside the box

Who should attend?

Anybody ready to play with words and rhythm, to let go of their usual processes and enjoy themselves with like-minded translators. We believe it is a learning opportunity and looking back will raise a smile.

Event details

Date: 16 September 2022
Location: Utrecht – Address to be determined soon
Time: From 10:00 to 16:00 CET
Early-bird price: €119.00 (excluding VAT, valid until 31 July 2022). Includes light lunch, tea/coffee and free hugs
Regular price: €149.00 (excluding VAT, from 31 July 2022 onwards). Includes light lunch, tea/coffee and free hugs
Registration: Fill in the form below. ART will send you an invoice, which will include the VAT if applicable, to be paid before the event.
Remarks: If we cannot hold it live we will reschedule to a later date approximately four months later.

Register for the workshop

To register for the workshop please fill in the registration form. You will receive an invoice with our payment data. Your registration will be confirmed once we receive your payment.

The form received by ART includes information indicating the workshop you are interested in. You do not need to add the name or date of the workshop on the form. You can indicate in the Additional remarks field whether you would like to register for another workshop or event with the same form should this be the case, or make any other comment.

Should you not have heard from us a few days after submitting the form, please contact Ellen Singer directly via or +31 23 555 3079.