Following years of isolation brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic, in the shadow of horrific violence unleashed by the Russian military in Ukraine, the calling of poets and translators to create communities of resistance and hope across all borders is more urgent than ever. The PEN/Penn Your Language My Ear project is in service of that goal, granting Anglophone and Russophone audiences access to voices—many of which are subject to interdiction and censorship in their own countries, and banning and shaming in other countries—that are creating a space for commonalities of struggle and a future world of peace to emerge.
Taking place in Yerevan with the support of PEN Armenia, the project brings poets and writers together to translate both contemporary Russian poetry into English (2022) and contemporary American poetry into Russian (2023). The poetry and corresponding translations from the convenings in 2022 and 2023 will be published as a single anthology by Deep Vellum, the largest publisher of literature in translation in the United States, based in Dallas, Texas.
The PEN/Penn Your Language My Ear program is a fusion and extension of the University of Pennsylvania’s Your Language My Ear translation symposium and of a pilot project from PEN America’s Writers in Dialogue program. In 2011, 2015, and 2019, the University of Pennsylvania held translation symposia where Russian and American poets—along with American scholars, translators, and poetry students—jointly translated texts from Russian into English and vice versa. PEN America’s 2020 pilot project paired seven Russian poets with seven U.S. translators who worked on texts over a series of online workshops and meetings, resulting in the publication of the anthology Verses on the Vanguard: Russian Poetry Today (Deep Vellum, 2022).
Poets and Translators Participating in 2023
Poets and Translators Participating in 2022