National Endowment for the Arts Announces International Literary Exchanges
Part of the Department of State's Global Cultural Initiative
September 25, 2006
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is pleased to announce International Literary Exchanges, a program with the Department of State, to initiate literary translation projects and publications between the United States and other countries. The National Endowment for the Arts is the United States' major sponsor of translations of contemporary literature of other countries.
The literary exchanges program is part of the Department of State's Global Cultural Initiative announced today by the White House. The multi-faceted initiative, involving private and public partners, will expand cultural exchanges between the United States and other countries. The NEA joins with the Department of State, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute for Museum and Library Services, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the American Film Institute in this undertaking.
International Literary Exchanges will provide American readers access to literary works by contemporary writers of other countries and provide foreign readers access to the work of acclaimed American writers, especially poets. Projects will be either publication of dual anthologies or specific translation projects. Projects are currently in development with Pakistan, Russia, Mexico, Greece, and Spain. In all instances, the NEA will work with literary and governmental organizations to complete the projects.
"So many acknowledged literary masterpieces--Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, Dante's Inferno, the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, Octavio Paz, or Wislawa Szymborska--would be lost to us as Americans, if it weren't for the challenging art of translation." says NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "There is no better way for nations to become familiar with one another, to experience another peoples' history, customs, and culture than through the stories its writers tell."
All literary exchange projects will focus on the work of living writers. Key to the initiative are activities in both the U.S. and the partner countries that foster human connections around the literary works. These activities include book tours, author readings, and lectures. The people-to-people interactions will encourage establishment of an international network of writers and readers as well as translators and thus to enduring cross-border conversations.
The literary initiative will build on the NEA's successful partnership with Mexico that resulted in the 2006 publication of Connecting Lines: New Poetry from Mexico and Líneas Conectadas: nueva poesía de los Estados Unidos. The initiative will also leverage the NEA's long history of supporting literary translation through both its Literature Fellowships for Translation and grants to nonprofit presses for publication of translations into English. Since 1981, the NEA has awarded some 246 translation fellowships, resulting in more than 200 foreign works from 46 languages and 60 countries.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency