In 1969, the PEN America Translation Committee released a manifesto ahead of the 1970 “World of Translation” conference, the first gathering of its kind in the United States. The manifesto sought to bring to light the issues faced by the translation community, focusing on the rights of the translator and translation studies. Fifty years later, in 2020, PEN held another conference titled “Translating the Future.” In conjunction with this conference, a new manifesto was drafted to address the contemporary state of translation in the United States. The new manifesto, released in 2023, takes a critical eye to the world of translation, examining the intersection of translation with other harmful trends in the publishing industry, such as under-compensation, racism, sexism, and US cultural hegemony. You can read the manifesto in full here.
Now, PEN is thrilled to welcome activists from the translation community to the World Voices Festival stage for a roundtable discussion surrounding this vital document. How can we understand translation not just as a form of writing, but also as an inherently political act? How do we teach, review, and study translation in a way that honors the unique context of the practice? Understanding these questions and more is a crucial act of literary citizenship. Moderated by writer and translator Bonnie Chau, this event will feature translators and editors Jennifer Croft, Alexa Frank, Anton Hur and Aaron Robertson. Join us for this meaningful discussion—and urgent call to action.