In this workshop, we will explore literary translation from French to English: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and songs.

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Six Mondays, May 8-June 19 (no meeting on May 22), see below for time
For those with a solid mastery of French and English, writing ability in English, and an interest in literature.
Limited to 12 participants.

In this workshop, we will explore literary translation from French to English: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and songs.

We will look at contemporary literature from Quebec and France, as well as some older (nineteenth- and twentieth-century) texts. Sources may include Gabrielle Roy, Anne Hébert, Annie Ernaux, and Samuel Archibald. We will start by looking at an excerpt of a literary text in French and reading a published English translation of it. What difficulties (such as euphony, voice, word play, and verb tense) did the translator face, and how successful were they? At each meeting, there will be time to produce your own translations, often in groups. We will read our work aloud and comment on difficulties and strokes of inspiration.

Participants will have the opportunity to translate a further passage from the same work (or from another) as a homework assignment for the next meeting. The corrected assignments provide individual feedback and lead to discussion of the issues encountered.

During the course of the workshop, you’ll be asked to present a passage you have translated from a work you have chosen, commenting on the issues it presents, and describing ways of solving these issues. This is an ideal opportunity to begin or pursue a project you intend to submit to a publisher.

Please note the bespoke schedule of this workshop:

May 08: 6-8pm
May 15: 6-9pm
May 29: 6-9pm
June 05: 6-9pm
June 12: 6-9pm
June 19: 6-8pm

This workshop will take place at the QWF Office (Room 3, 1200 Atwater Avenue, Westmount, Quebec) with up to 2 virtual spots for participants who are unable to attend in-person.

Workshop leader

Credit: Véro Boncompagni
Jonathan Kaplansky won a French Voices Award to translate Nobel Prize-winning author Annie Ernaux’s La vie extérieure (Things Seen) for the University of Nebraska Press. Recent translations include Jonathan Bécotte’s Like a Hurricane (Orca, 2023) and Hélène Rioux’s The End of the World is Elsewhere (Guernica, 2022). He has sat on the juries for the translation category of the Governor General’s Literary Awards and the John Glassco Translation Prize and recently translated the libretto of an opera by Hélène Dorion and Marie-Claire Blais entitled Yourcenar: An Island of Passions.


Registration for this workshop is now closed.

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