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Gregory Rabassa (1922-2016), A Celebration

Few figures have marked the English-language literature of our time as deeply as did Gregory Rabassa. Translator of Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch (1966), Clarice Lispector’s The Apple in the Dark (1967), Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude (1970), Mario Vargas Llosa’s Conversation in the Cathedral (1974), Luis Rafael Sánchez’s Macho Camacho’s Beat (1980), Luisa Valenzuela’s The Lizard’s Tail (1983), José Lezama Lima’s Paradiso (2005), and more than fifty other works from Spanish and Portuguese—and himself the author of a number of books, including his prize-winning memoir If This Be Treason (2005)— Rabassa was a beloved professor and colleague at City University of New York, where he taught at the Graduate Center and Queens College for more than forty years.

Among the numerous honors Rabassa received were the National Book Award in Translation (1967), the Gregory Kolovakos Award for career achievement from PEN American Center (2001), the National Medal of Arts from the National Endowment for the Arts (2006), and the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir (2006). “We Spanish-language writers, especially of my generation, owe him enormous gratitude for the way he helped us plant roots in the English-speaking world,” wrote Mario Vargas Llosa earlier this year.

Speakers include Edith Grossman, Peter Constantine, Earl Fitz, Ezra Fitz, Esther Allen, Mauricio Font, Elizabeth Lowe, Harry Morales, Daniel Shapiro, Nora Glickman, Declan Spring, Ammiel Alcalay, Stanley Barkan, Catarina Cordeiro, David Draper Clark, and Rabassa’s daughters Clara Rabassa and Kate Rabassa Wallen.

In addition, the 14 recipients of the 2016 PEN/Heim Translation Fund grants, who carry forward the tradition Rabassa did so much to consolidate, will be announced and honored.

A reception will follow.

This event is presented as part of Translation, an interdisciplinary research group that employs public humanities practices and explores narration as a guide for social change. The group is supported by the Mellon Seminar on Public Engagement and Collaborative Research. For more information or to join, email ch@gc.cuny.edu.

Co-sponsored by PEN America, the Ph.D. Program in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages, the Bildner Center for Western Hemisphere Studies, the Translation Mellon Seminar on Public Engagement and Collaborative Research, CUNY Grad Center; the MFA in Creative Writing and Translation, the Department of Comparative Literature, and the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures, Queens College, CUNY; Words Without Borders; Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas (published by Routledge in association with The City College of New York, CUNY); The Bridge Literary Translation Series; the Instituto Cervantes of New York; and Julianne and Earl E. Fitz.

Ammiel Alcalay is a poet, novelist, translator, critic, scholar, and activist who teaches at Queens College and The Graduate Center, CUNY. His books include Islanders (City Lights), and neither wit nor gold: from then (Ugly Duckling). His After Jews and Arabs (University of Minnesota), was the subject of a 20th anniversary conference at Georgetown in 2012. He has translated widely, including Sarajevo Blues and Nine Alexandrias by Bosnian poet Semezdin Mehmedinović, both from City Lights. A new book of essays, a little history, and a 10th anniversary reprint of from the warring factions came out in 2013 from re:public / UpSet. He is the initiator and General Editor of Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative, a series of student and guest edited archival texts emerging from the New American Poetry.

Clara Rabassa is a graduate of Skidmore College with a BA in Government. Clara Rabassa has been employed by Subway® Sandwich Headquarters in Milford CT for the past 24 years as a Paralegal, supervising a department that handles the sales of existing Subway® restaurants to new owners. She enjoys travelling, nature and the outdoors, cycling and playing tennis.


Daniel Shapiro is a Distinguished Lecturer in the Department of Classical and Modern Languages & Literatures at The City College of New York, CUNY, where he serves as Editor of Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas (now published by Routledge in association with CCNY). Prior to his present position, he worked for many years as Director of Literature at the Americas Society, where he collaborated frequently with Gregory Rabassa on public programming and publications. Shapiro is the author of three poetry collections—most recently, Woman at the Cusp of Twilight (2016)—as well as a translator of Latin American literature; his translation of Tomás Harris’s Cipango (2010) received a starred review in Library Journal. He has received grants from the PEN Translation Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts.

David Draper Clark is former editor in chief of World Literature Today, where he worked for nearly three decades. During his tenure there, he helped administer the publication’s major programs: the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature, and the Puterbaugh Conferences on World Literature. Clark was a founder and two-term president of the Oklahoma Center for the Book, a state affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress. His published translations from the Spanish include poetry and essays by Rafael Alberti, Roberto Fernández Retamar, Roberto Bolaño, and Ernesto Cardenal, among others. Clark has served as a consultant for the National Endowment for the Arts, UNESCO, and the Fundación Príncipe de Asturias. For over two decades he has been a contributor to Encyclopaedia Britannica, providing coverage of contemporary literature from sub-Saharan Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. He currently resides in Oklahoma and Arizona.

Declan Spring is Vice President and Senior Editor at New Directions. He has been working there since 1991. He edited Gregory Rabassa’s If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents. He has also edited works by Julio Cortazar, H.D.,, Forrest Gander, Peter Handke, Gustaw Herling, Bohumil Hrabal, Laszlo Krasznahorkai, Ezra Pound, and Enrique Vila-Matas.


Earl E. Fitz is Professor of Portuguese, Spanish, and Comparative Literature at Vanderbilt University. He teaches courses on Brazilian, Spanish American, inter-American, and comparative literature. He also offers classes on translation. Prof. Rabassa was his dissertation advisor and the two of them stayed in close contact through the years. Fitz is the co-author, with Elizabeth Lowe, of Translation and the Rise of Inter-American Literature. He is the co-translator, with Gregory Rabassa, of Saint Christopher by José Maria de Eça de Queirós.

Edith Grossman is a translator, critic, and occasional teacher of literature in Spanish. She was born in Philadelphia, attended the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California at Berkeley, completed a PhD at New York University, and has been the recipient of awards and honors including Fulbright, Woodrow Wilson, and Guggenheim Fellowships, the PEN Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Queen Sofía Translation Prize, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Grossman has brought over into English poetry, fiction, and non-fiction by major Latin American writers, including Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, Álvaro Mutis, Mayra Montero, and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Peninsular works that she has translated include Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes, novels by Julián Ríos, Carmen Laforet, Carlos Rojas, and Antonio Muñoz Molina, poetry of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, The Solitudes of Luis de Góngora, and the Exemplary Novels of Miguel de Cervantes. She lives in Manhattan and has two sons, both of whom are musicians.

Elizabeth Lowe is the founding director of the Center for Translation Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2008-2015), and currently professor in the online M.S. in Translation at New York University. She is a specialist in translation pedagogy, with a focus on literary translation. She has translated both Brazilian and Lusophone writers, including Clarice Lispector, Euclides da Cunha, Machado de Assis,J.P. Cuenca, Antônio Lobo Antunes, and recently João de Melo. She is the author of The City in Brazilian Literature (1982), and co-author with Earl E. Fitz of Translation and the Rise of Inter-American Literature (2007). Her translation of J.P. Cuenca’s The Happiest Ending for a Love Story is an Accident (2013) was a finalist for the IMPAC award. The Brazilian Academy of Letters recognized her for the second translation of the national classic Os Sertões by Euclides da Cunha (Backlands: The Canudos Campaign, 2010). She resides in Gainesville, Florida.

Esther Allen is a writer and translator who teaches in the CUNY Grad Center Ph.D. Programs in French and in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages, and at Baruch College, CUNY. A two-time recipient of National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowships, she has been a fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers and at at the Grad Center’s Leon Levy Center for Biography. She co-founded the PEN World Voices Festival in 2005, and has worked with the PEN/Heim Translation Fund since its inception in 2003. In 2006, the French government named her a Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres and in 2012 she received the Feliks Gross Award from the CUNY Academy for the Arts and Sciences. Her most recent translation is of Antonio Di Benedetto’s 1956 classic Zama, published by New York Review Books Classics. Read her work at www.estherallen.com.

Ezra E. Fitz has translated works by Grammy winning musician Juanes, Emmy winning journalist Jorge Ramos, World Cup champion Pelé, as well as novelists Alberto Fuguet and Eloy Urroz. His original novel The Morning Side of the Hill was published in 2014.




Harry Morales is a Spanish literary translator. His translations include the work of Mario Benedetti, Emir Rodríguez Monegal, Juan Rulfo, Alberto Ruy-Sánchez, Ilan Stavans, and Francisco Proaño Arandi, among many other distinguished Latin American writers. His work has appeared in various journals, including Quarterly West, TriQuarterly, The Literary Review, Agni, The Kenyon Review, Mānoa, BOMB, WORLDVIEW, The Saint Ann’s Review, The Iowa Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, World Literature Today, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Denver Quarterly, among others. He is a recipient of a Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry Grant for his translations from the Spanish and has been widely published in numerous anthologies. His English translation of two verse collections by Mario Benedetti, Sólo Mientras Tanto: Poemas: 1948-1950 (Only in the Meantime: Poems: 1948-1950) and Poemas de la Oficina: 1953-1956 (Office Poems: 1953-1956) and a volume of stories, El Resto Es Selva y Otros Cuentos (The Rest is Jungle and Other Stories) is published by Host Publications. His new English translation of Benedetti’s internationally acclaimed award-winning novel, La Tregua (The Truce: The Diary of Martín Santomé) will be published by Penguin UK Modern Classics in September 2015.

Nora Glickman is a professor of Hispanic Literature at Queens College and at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Her critical work includes “Regeneración” de Leib Malach y la trata de blancas, The Jewish White Slave Trade: The Case of Raquel Liberman, El inglés en el teatro y el cine rioplatense, and the short stories, Puerta entre abierta; Mujeres, memorias, malogros; Uno de sus Juanes; Hilván de instantes. Several of her plays are gathered in Teatro de Nora Glickman, and in her bilingual anthology. Suburban News received the Jerome Award for young dramatists in 1990. Dos Charlottes appears in Dramaturgas en la escena del mundo. She is the co-editor of the Latin American Jewish Studies Association Publications, and of Enclave: Revista de Creación Literaria en Español. Between 1998 and 2010 she was Associate Editor of Modern Jewish Studies/Yiddish.

Peter Constantine is a literary translator and editor, and the director of the Literary Translation Program at the University of Connecticut. His recent translations, published by Random House (Modern Library), include The Essential Writings of Rousseau, The Essential Writings of Machiavelli, and works by Tolstoy, Gogol, and Voltaire. His translation of the complete works of Isaac Babel received the Koret Jewish Literature Award and a National Jewish Book Award citation. He co-edited A Century of Greek Poetry: 1900-2000, and the anthology The Greek Poets: Homer to the Present, which W.W. Norton published in 2010. A Guggenheim Fellow, he was awarded the PEN Translation Prize for Six Early Stories by Thomas Mann, and the National Translation Award for The Undiscovered Chekhov. Peter Constantine has been a fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at The New York Public Library and a Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.

Roy Cravzow received a BA in Spanish from Lehigh University; an MA in Spanish and a Certificate in Latin American Studies from Columbia University(1963), where he first met Gregory Rabassa; a Fulbright Fellowship to Brazil 1964–65, encouraged and promoted by the late professor of Spanish and Portuguese, Raymond Slayers; and a PhD in Comparative Literature (Portuguese) from CUNY in 1984. His PhD work was directed first by Professor Sayers until his retirement. All comprehensive exams and dissertation guidance were then supervised by Professor Rabassa. Cravzow taught Spanish and Portuguese at Lehigh University in1965-67, filled in for Portuguese teachers on leave at Columbia and CUNY in 1967–68 (arranged by professor Rabassa), and then, with his constant support, served as an Adjunct in Spanish and Portuguese at Queens College from 1968 though 1989. In 1974, using the knowledge of Brazilian culture learned under the tutelage of Professors Victor Valenzuela of Lehigh, Raymond Sayers, and Gregory Rabassa, plus his field experience in Brazil, he started and still runs an export business with Brazil serving clients in the paper and food service industries with machinery and parts for their factories.

Stanley H. Barkan is the publisher of Cross-Cultural Communications and the editor of the Cross-Cultural Review Series of World Literature and Art, that has, to date, produced some 400 titles in 57 different languages. His own poetry has been translated into 25 different languages, and he is the author of 18 original poetry collections, several of which are bilingual. These include Under the Apple Tree / Pod jabłonią (Polish), Bubbemeises & Babbaluci (Italian), Naming the Birds / Назоваване на птиците (Bulgarian), Crossings / Поэзия (Russian), Raisins with Almonds / Pássuli cu ménnuli (Sicilian), and Sailing the Yangtze / 漂流长江 (Chinese). He was New York City’s 1991 Poetry Teacher of the Year (awarded by Poets House and the Board of Education) and the 1996 winner of the Poor Richard’s Award, “The Best of the Small Presses” (awarded by the Small Press Center), for “25 years of high quality publishing.” Recent honors include “The Paterson Literary Review Award (PLR) for Lifetime Service to Literature” (2011) and the European Poetry & Art Homer Medal (2016). A long-time friend of Gregory & Clementine, Barkan published Gregory’s only book of originalpoetry, A Cloudy Day in Gray Minor (1992), and his first book of translation of poetry, The Girl from Ipanema by Vinícius de Moraes (Portuguese-English, 1989), as well as two original poetry books by Clementine—Pollock’s Polka (2004) & Summer II (1999)—and one translation, Canticle for a Memory by Francisco Arriví (Spanish-English, 1993).



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