Notice of Meeting

Date:  Thursday, November 15th, 2018
Time:  7:30 pm
Place:  Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC Campus, 515 West Hastings Street (between Seymour and Richards Streets), Diamond Lounge, 2nd floor
Speaker:  Marina Sonkina
Topic:  The Art of Translation 

Brief Biography:

Of the many hats I’m wearing that of a fiction writer and an academic seem to fit me best, all the thorns notwithstanding. In the past, I was a lecturer at Moscow State University and broadcaster and producer at CBC, at present I’m teaching at Liberal Arts plus 55 Program at SFU. Courses that I’m offering range from Comparative Literature to History of Art to Film. I’m also organizing culture tours to Russia and to Armenia and Georgia (September 2019).

The titles of my latest books are “Lucia’s Eyes and Other Stories”, “Expulsion and Other Stories”.


What counts for a good translation? Is it possible to translate 4th century Chinese Poetry into modern English? Is it possible to translate poetry at all? Does a good translator interpret just words or the culture that stands behind them? Since the beginning of the 20th century, the debates about the complexity of translating literary texts have been endless. Lately, they have become politicized and, therefore, particularly acrimonious. Yet, the first translation of the Bible from Hebrew and Aramaic into Greek goes back more than 2000 years, when Theory of Translation did not even exist. So how do translators do it? As a writer writing in two languages and dealing with bilingual texts, these are the questions of practical and vital importance to me.

Last Meeting:

Marja presented an award-winning talk to us which was full of wonder and erudition. The wonder started off when she recounted walking in the woods with her mother as a child and how she has maintained that wonder while traversing Stanley Park and describing the walk through the eyes of someone with knowledge and curiosity and love of nature. Her presentation was so well written that even though she provided a page of sources for her information about geology, forestry, history and culture etc. was superfluous. Those who were in attendance were very satisfied and impressed by her achievement. 

Additional Information:

Marina Sonkina was our first speaker and has presented a number of times in the past 15 years. I had asked her to make this presentation on Translation because last spring when Michael Dallaire spoke about writing his first book of poetry, questions arose from the audience about how to translate from one language to another or from one culture to another. I know that Marina will be dealing with these topics and we expect a lively and informative discussion.

As for our upcoming meetings, the dates are as follows:
December 13th, 2018 – Mark Dwor, The Phoenix Payroll Disaster

Any questions, please contact me: Mark Dwor

Categories: Lecture