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Lycoming students translate book of prose poetry by distinguished Latina writer

Lycoming students translate book of prose poetry by distinguished Latina writer

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Sandra Kingery, Ph.D., Logan A. Richmond Endowed Professor and chair of the department of modern language studies at Lycoming College, and 18 students in her upper-level Spanish translation class recently translated “Corta la piel / It Pierces the Skin,” a book of prose poems by Xánath Caraza, from Spanish to English.

Kingery and her students completed the translation of 62 stories over the course of one semester. Kingery began by dividing the 18 students in her class into six groups, with each group translating a different story every week. Then, everyone in the class would work on perfecting the translation of the six stories for that week. Students would submit their drafts to Kingery, she would mark them up and return them, and the students would edit them again.

“In addition to capturing the meaning of the stories, students worked hard to capture the stories' musicality, the internal rhymes and rhythm of the prose,” said Kingery. “Some stories included a lot of alliteration. This was very hard to reproduce in English while remaining faithful to the meaning of the original, but students came up with some very clever translation solutions.”

“One of the hardest things for me in the translation process was maintaining both the rhythm and the meaning of each sentence,” said Aaron Willsea ’20, business administration major and Spanish minor. “Each word was so crucial to the meaning of the story, and it was difficult at times piecing together sentences that flowed in English but also maintained the meaning in Spanish. Finding that balance is the art of translation. Overall, this experience was one of the most mentally challenging tasks I have ever encountered, but it really taught me to think outside the box.”

Back in 2016, Kingery received funding from a Mellon Grant, which encouraged student-faculty research collaborations in the humanities and social sciences. The funding allowed Kingery to offer Kaitlyn Hipple ’18 a position as a translation collaborator for the summer of 2016 so they could co-translate “Metztli,” another one of Caraza’s books. One of the purposes of the Mellon Grant was for faculty to think about how they could take the experience of bringing a student into their research and expand it to a full class, so that more students could enjoy the benefits of a similar collaboration. After the very positive experience of working with Hipple, Kingery wanted to give a full class the opportunity to translate something for publication.

“Being part of the translation process was definitely challenging, but rewarding,” said Esmeralda Luna ‘20, Spanish and political science double major. “Working alongside my classmates and Dr. Kingery was a great experience because I would learn something new every day from them. My favorite part was seeing how everyone had different ways of translating a word or phrase and working through the process of deciding on the best way to translate. Overall, I very much enjoyed the translation process and hope to one day do it again.”

Students listed below translated “It Pierces the Skin” with Kingery:

  • Caleb M. Beard ’21 (Williamsport, Pa.) – Spanish major; Music minor
  • Abril M. Cardenas ’19 (Dayton, Texas) – Criminal Justice major; Spanish minor
  • Hanna Cherres ’22 (South Plainfield, N.J.) – Spanish major
  • Joshua Josue Cruz-Avila ’21 (Laurel, Md.) – Business Administration major; Spanish minor
  • Angelina M. Fernandez ’20 (Bartonsville, Pa.) – Business Administration and Economics major; Spanish minor
  • Luis Felipe Garcia Tamez ’22 (Houston, Texas) - Undeclared
  • Elizabeth J. Hernandez ’22 (Denver, Colo.) – Undeclared
  • Galilea Landeros ’21 (Chicago, Ill.) – Criminal Justice major; Spanish minor
  • Esmeralda Luna ’21 (Houston, Texas) – Spanish and Political Science major; Latin American Studies minor
  • Lyssett Ortuño ’19 (Houston, Texas) – Business Administration major; Spanish minor
  • Rocio A. Quiñonez ’20 (Chicago, Ill.) – Criminal Justice major; Spanish and Philosophy minor
  • Toussaint Bourgeois ’20 (New York, N.Y.) – Psychology major; Spanish minor
  • Karla I. Rios ’20 (Los Angeles, Calif.) – Spanish and Social Justice Interdisciplinary major; Latin American Studies minor
  • Emily K. Sampsell ’19 (Montgomery, Pa.) – Spanish major; Education Certification
  • Michael Sanchez Palacios ’22 (Houston, Texas) – Undeclared
  • Briana A. Tafoya-Saravia ’19 (Houston, Texas) – Psychology major
  • Leví A. Tristán Aguirre ’20 (Austin, Texas) – Psychology major; Spanish minor
  • Aaron M. Willsea ’20 (Wellsboro, Pa.) – Business Administration major; Spanish and Economics minor

“I was very impressed with the students' dedication to the project,” added Kingery. “They workshopped their stories in groups in class every day, and they were fully dedicated to finding the best possible translation. One of the things that really helped was that we had two phone conversations with the author. That not only allowed students to ask Xánath questions about details in the stories that we were unsure about, but I think it also really motivated the students because they liked Xánath so much that they wanted to make sure they did justice to her beautiful stories.”

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