Literary Translation is Original, Creative Writing

Main Article Content

Mark Schafer


In February 2023, I traveled to Mexico City to attend an homage to my friend, the Mexican poet David Huerta, whose poetry I’ve translated extensively. There, in the company of Huerta’s colleagues and friends, I was received and embraced as a fellow poet, my translations understood as poetry that coexists with Huerta’s and their own. Upon my return to the US, I found this reply from a writing program to my inquiry as to whether literary translation projects were eligible for their writing fellowship: “We ask that Fellowship projects be original writing or research; translation projects are not accepted.” In response, I wrote the following description of literary translation as original, creative writing, based on my own work and personal experience. I dedicate it to the memory of David, writer, reader, literary thinker, and teacher extraordinaire, and to the enormous literary community he left incalculably enriched.

Article Details

Articles and Translations
Author Biography

Mark Schafer, University of Massachusetts

Mark Schafer is an award-winning translator and visual artist and a Senior Lecturer in Spanish at the University of Massachusetts Boston. His two most recent translations are Stay This Day and Night with Me, his translation of Belén Gopegui’s novel, and Migrations: Poem, 1976–2020, his translation of Gloria Gervitz’s life’s-work poem. He also edited and translated the career-spanning anthology of the poetry of David Huerta, Before Saying Any of the Great Words: Selected Poems. In addition to the work of Gopegui, Gervitz, and Huerta, Schafer has translated the poetry, fiction, and essays of authors across the Spanish-speaking world, including Virgilio Piñera, Alberto Ruy Sánchez, Jesús Gardea, Eduardo Galeano, and Antonio José Ponte. He lives in Roxbury, Massachusetts, the traditional and unceded territory of the Massachusett and Wampanoag Peoples, with his wife and daughter.