The Mechanics of Publishing Translations in Canada
Guernica Editions has been publishing translations for nearly 40 years, given that part of the publishing house’s mandate is to ensure the infusion of cultures other than our own into the North American context. The world of translations in the Canadian context can be divided neatly in two: translations into English by Canadian translators of Canadian authors writing in French (or aboriginal languages); translations into English of authors writing in languages from other parts of the world. Guernica has published both – with a viable and active Essential Translation Series. Negotiating the translation of Canadian authors is a more simple process than that involved in publishing translations from other parts of the world. This is mostly because the translation of Canadian authors by Canadian translators has a funding element from the Canada Council – the translator fees are paid at a fixed rate by the CC (18 cents per word [prose]; 20 cents per word [theatre]; 25 cents per word [poetry]). For translations of authors from other parts of the world, the situation becomes more complex and publishers must often rely on the host nation’s arts councils to help in the funding of a particular project – either through paying a portion of the translator’s fees or the publisher’s production costs. In this paper, I would like to talk about the mechanics involved in bringing a piece of literature in one language to the point of publication in another – within the Canadian context, which in many ways is unique. I would also like to talk about how these mechanics could be improved through the rationalization of translation funding – and thus unblocking what is now a bottleneck that is preventing many publishers from taking on more translation projects (ironically, in a country that is officially bilingual).
Michael Mirolla is the publisher and editor-in-chief at Guernica Editions.
Born in Italy, and arriving in Canada at the age of five, Michael Mirolla calls himself a Montreal-Toronto corridor writer (because he spends so much time travelling between the two cities). He’s a novelist, short story writer, poet and playwright. Publications include two novels, the recently-released The Facility, and Berlin (a 2010 Bressani Prize winner and finalist for the 2009 Indie Book and National Best Books Awards); two short story collections – The Formal Logic of Emotion (recently translated into Italian and released in 2010) and Hothouse Loves & Other Tales; and two poetry collections: the English-Italian Interstellar Distances/Distanze Interstellari (2008), and Light And Time (2010), His short story, “A Theory of Discontinuous Existence,” was selected for The Journey Prize Anthology, while another short story, “The Sand Flea,” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His short fiction and poetry has been published in numerous journals in Canada, the U.S. and Britain, including anthologies such as Event’s Peace & War, Telling Differences: New English Fiction from Quebec, Tesseracts 2: Canadian Science Fiction, The Anthology of Italian-Canadian Writing (Guernica), New Wave of Speculative Fiction Book 1, and The Best of Foliate Oak.