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Open Mic Series Gives Translators a Turn Under the Literary Spotlight

By DNAinfo Staff on October 14, 2013 2:05pm

 Terraza 7 hosted a reading series for tranlators in October 2013.
Terraza 7 Reading Series
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By Cesar Bustamante

Special to DNAinfo

QUEENS — You often hear different languages while walking around Queens, but you don’t always hear them sharing the same stage.

First Tuesdays, a monthly open mic reading series at Terraza 7 in Elmhurst, offers literary translators, who are usually left out of the spotlight, a chance to step up to the microphone.

A recent performance showcased translated or bilingual works by a Persian mystic, a Welsh poet and a Columbian novelist.

“Translation as an activity speaks to the linguistic and cultural diversity of Queens in a way that other kinds of straight reading series [do] not,” said Richard Jeffrey Newman, a literary translator who curates First Tuesdays.

In September, the Terraza 7 reading featured "Landscape with Yellow Birds," a book of selected works by Spanish poet Jose Angel Valente that was translated by Thomas Christensen and published by Brooklyn-based Archipelago Books. Christensen read an English translation while the poet Miguel Falquez-Certain read the original Spanish.

Before the reading, four translators, including Newman, participated in an open mic.

“The audience were warm, knowledgeable and appreciative of the excellent poetry on display. The concept of a translation jam is a nice idea,” said Martin Daws, Young People's Laureate for Wales and one of the audience members.

Christensen, who lives in California and was visiting Queens for the first time, said the neighborhood "reminds me of certain Latin American cities I’ve been to."

First Tuesdays' next open mic will be on Nov. 12. The featured reader will be Queens College professor Nicole Cooley, who is the author of four books of poems, most recently "Breach" and "Milk Dress."