The Translation Exchange supports regular residencies in Oxford for a translator, or for a writer/poet and their translator. The residency is an opportunity for the visitors to work and collaborate, but also to deliver masterclasses, workshops and talks, interacting with students and the public.

The Visible Translator: Polly Barton in Oxford, 2022-23

Polly Barton

The Translation Exchange is thrilled to be developing a brand new residency this year, in partnership with Daniel Hahn, Ros Schwartz, and the Stephen Spender Trust. 

In 2022/23, the award-winning writer and translator Polly Barton joins us as a Humanities Cultural Programme Visiting Fellow. Hosted by the Queen’s College Translation Exchange, Polly will deliver events with students, researchers and public audiences centred on the theme of the “The Visible Translator”. Making acts of translation visible and accessible to new audiences, the residency aims to encourage interdisciplinary, dynamic and creative thinking around translation across the Humanities and beyond.

As a Visiting Fellow, Polly will facilitate workshops and seminars designed to raise the profile of translation as a shared critical practice across the university and expand opportunities for future collaboration and research. 

Central to the residency is a move beyond the university. Partnering with local schools, museums and other cultural organisations, Polly will develop a range of innovative and participatory public-facing activities, including a “Translating Comics” workshop and translation duels, designed to make the translation process visible and interactive.  

The residency forms part of a new national translator-in-residence scheme, developed by a range of partners across the UK and led by translators Daniel Hahn OBE and Ros Schwartz. The scheme is set to run in a consortium of Universities and Literature Development Agencies, including Durham and Aston Universities, New Writing North and Writing West Midlands. The pilot in Oxford contributes to the development of a sustainable national model for future translation residencies, and supports efforts across the UK to diversify curricula, research and literary translation.

Polly Barton is a critically-acclaimed writer and translator of Japanese literature and non-fiction. In 2019, she was awarded the Fitzcarraldo Essay Prize for her non-fiction debut Fifty Sounds (Fitzcarraldo Editions/Liveright). Her recent translations include Spring Garden by Tomoka Shibasaki (Pushkin Press, 2017), There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura (Bloomsbury, 2020), and So We Look to the Sky by Misumi Kubo (Arcade, 2021). In 2021, she won the World Fantasy Award for Best Collection for her translation of Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda (Tilted Axis Press/Soft Skull Press, 2020).

The Translation Exchange was supported by a TORCH Micro-Fund Grant to develop the scheme in Oxford. The residency is run in partnership with the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages (Oxford). 

Former Residents

Our inaugural Residency, in 2018–2019 was offered in partnership with the John Rutherford Centre for Galician Studies to Galician writer Chus Pato, and translator Erín Moure. Explore Pato’s poetry in Moure’s translation here.

In partnership with Pushkin House, London, the 2019-2020 Residency was awarded to Russian writer based in Ukraine Galina Rymbu, and translator Helena Kernan. Read Helena Kernan’s account of the Residency, and explore one of Rymbu’s many poetic projects online.

During the COVID-19 pandemic the Residency became virtual. The 2020–2021 Residency, in partnership with the Literature Translation Institute of Korea, was awarded to South Korean Bora Chung (shortlisted for the International Booker Prize) and translator Anton Hur. Explore a reading by Bora Chung, as well as a two-part workshop (part 1 and part 2) by Anton Hur translating a supposedly ‘untranslatable’ poem, recorded from the Residency.