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Translation Interns led by Adam Wier work on Jesús Papoleto Meléndez’ Book

The IAAS is pleased to report it’s Internship Program’s latest success: the implementation of translation interns from Hunter College’s Department of Romance Languages.

Adam Wier

Adam Wier

The IAAS offers a small number of internships each year, usually for phati’tude Literary Magazine, and for website design and website content.  In January 2012, phati’tude Literary Magazine needed translation interns for its Winter 2012 issue, “WHAT’S IN A NOMBRE? Writing Latin@ Identity in America.” With the assistance of María Cornelio, Lecturer & Coordinator of the Spanish faculty, we were fortunate to have Adam Wier from Hunter College supervise fellow-interns Jane Losaw (Columbia University), Joanna Morales (Columbia University), Amy Savage (SUNY/Albany) and Amanda A Cunniff (New York University) with the translations.

When we were set to work on Jesús Papoleto Meléndez’ new collection, ¡Hey Yo / Yo Soy! 40 Years of Nuyorican Street Poetry, A Bilingual Edition, translated from English to Spanish, we asked Adam (who has since graduated from Hunter College, summa cum laude and valedictorian) if he would help us with this new project. Maria Cornelio from Hunter College graciously referred us to students Carolina Fung Feng and Marjorie González, who undertook this groundbreaking project.

Carolina Fung Feng

Carolina Fung Feng

Marjorie González

Marjorie González

After a series of meetings with the poet and the editors, the translators spent three months painstakingly translating 59 poems. After the poems were typeset for review, the translators, editors and the poet Meléndez, often referred to collectively as “Team Papo,” met weekly at Hunter College/Centro in El Barrio. It was at these grueling eight hour sessions during most of the summer that “Team Papo” bonded over goodies that Melendez would bring to each session, and led intense discussions on how to translate “Spanglish” and colloquial terms into a Spanish that could be universally understood.

Adam, currently a translator for the Diocese of Brooklyn, worked closely with Carolina and Marjorie to assess and capture the meaning of Meléndez’ poetry and then transmute Meléndez’ voice into Spanish. Meeting weekly with Meléndez and the editors, they honed in on the emotional impact of the words, structural rhythms, subtle implications, the complexities of meaning, and the ambient, cultural inferences found throughout the work. The idea was to present an historical collection that incorporates elements of artful composition and poetic diction, in both languages. Like Walt Whitman, whose poetry reflects scenes of the American Civil War that occurred during his lifetime; Meléndez’ poetry witnesses the evolution of the Civil Rights and Nuyorican Movements. The end result is that ¡Hey Yo / Yo Soy! is a fine bilingual edition that reaches out to an even wider audience.

Set to publish on October 26, 2012, on that same day, Meléndez will present ¡Hey Yo / Yo Soy! at The Puerto Rican Studies Association for Research Advocacy and Education, Inc. (PRSA) Conference at State University of New York (SUNY), Albany. PRSA is a nonprofit organization brings together scholars, educators, public policy experts, artists, community activists and students from diverse fields of knowledge whose work focuses on Puerto Ricans in the United States and on the Island. Meléndez will participate in a panel discussion, read his poetry and have books available for sale and book signings.

Job well done, “Team Papo.” Well done!

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