Translating Singapore

Press release from The Arts House:

Second Singapore International Translation Symposium

and inaugural Literary Translation Boot Camp

12 – 17 May 2014

Singapore, 7 May 2014 – This May, some of the world’s most renowned translators will converge at The Arts House for two major translation events in Singapore: The second Singapore International Translation Symposium (SITS) and the inaugural Literary Translation Boot Camp. The four-day boot camp will run from 12 – 15 May, followed by the Symposium from 16 – 17 May.

Among the major international translators who will be here include Professor Harry Aveling, one of the world’s most respected translators of Indonesian and Malay writings, who is currently researching on Singapore Malay author Isa Kamari; writer and award-winning translator Lakshmi Holmström, who is the top Tamil-to-English translator; Andrea Lingenfelter, poet, China scholar and translator of contemporary Chinese literary works, including Farewell My Concubine and Candy; and Dr Henry Liu, Vice President of the International Federation of Translators (FIT). Singapore speakers include Colin Goh and Woo Yen Yen, the husband-and-wife team behind Dim Sum Warriors, a Mandarin/English bilingual iPad app and graphic novel series; and educator and translator Nazry Bahrawi, who is also a literary and cultural critic.

Says William Phuan, Director, The Arts House: “Recently we have seen very positive developments in the translation field here, with the setting up of the National Translation Committee and the Han Suyin translation scholarship at NTU. SITS and the first-ever Literary Translation Boot Camp are poised to be major events on the translation calendar in Singapore, as part of the concerted push to boost the practice and standard of translation here.”

The theme for SITS 2014 is “Theory + Practice”, where translators, writers, practitioners and academics will delve into issues relating to the two tracks of theory and practice through a series of thought-provoking lectures and panel discussions. Says Tan Dan Feng, Executive Director, Interlexis: “Last year, we started with the important question of ‘Why Translation Matters’ in the first year and will look at the importance of both translation theory and practice this year. Too often, we see translators preoccupied in their particular field of work, be it commercial translation, literary translation, government translation, research, interpreting, subtitling or linguistics. SITS brings together different stakeholders in the translation scene to share knowledge and experience. Translation theorists and translation practitioners traditionally do not have much to do with each other, which is why we have chosen ‘Theory + Practice’ as the theme this year.”

Some of the panels include ‘Creativity and Translation: A Marriage of Equals?’; ‘Translation as Empathy: Can we love ‘devils’?’; ‘So You Want to Set Up a National Translation Organisation’; and a special panel, ‘Dim Sum Warriors: A Study on Translation Frustration’ by Colin Goh and Woo Yen Yen. In addition, there will be two free and public programmes: the first Translation Slam in Singapore, and the closing event, Talking Cock: The Mother Tongue Edition. Please refer to Annex A for some of the panel highlights.

In conjunction with SITS 2014, the inaugural Literary Translation Boot Camp will gather writers, translators and editors for four days of intensive translation, creative writing and editing workshops. There will be three separate language track workshops where participants will translate Singapore Chinese, Malay and Tamil texts respectively into English. Each workshop is led by a translator with a Singapore writer-in-residence. The three pairings are Professor Harry Aveling and Isa Kamari (Malay); Lakshmi Holmström and Kanagalatha (Tamil); and Andrea Lingenfelter and You Jin (Chinese). Award-winning writer Tash Aw will also conduct a session on creative writing.

SITS 2014 is co-organised by The Arts House and translation group Interlexis. The boot camp is organised by The Arts House in collaboration with the British Centre for Literary Translation, and presented by the National Arts Council.

SITS 2014 will take place on 16 and 17 May from 9am to 6pm. The price for a two-day and one-day pass costs $100 and $60 respectively and includes lunch and tea breaks. The three-day Literary Boot Camp will take place from 12 to 15 May from 10am to 5pm and is limited to 10 participants per language workshop. It is priced at $300 and includes a two-day pass to SITS 2014, as well as daily lunches and tea breaks. For updates and more information to the programme, please


Isa Kamari Photo 4

Isa Kamari (photograph courtesy of author), novelist, is participating in the Second Singapore International Translation Symposium. He is also an invited author at the first Singapore Literature Festival in New York City in October 2014.

About Jee Leong Koh

My book of poems Steep Tea (Carcanet) was named a Best Book of 2015 by UK's Financial Times, and a Finalist by Lambda Literary. I also wrote three other books of poems and a book of zuihitsu. My work has been shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize, and translated into Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian and Latvian. Originally from Singapore, I live in New York City, where I edit the arts blog Singapore Poetry, and run the Second Saturdays Reading Series and the Singapore Literature Festival in NYC.

One comment

  1. datta2014

    How Translation plays a vital role in Literature we understand and how translation studies are
    a two way platform are given to us. Dear Jee Leong, you have updated a very significant port of information.


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