Virtual Memories Show 370:
Alta L. Price

“Books were my first drug.”

Translator Alta L. Price joins the show to talk about co-curating the 2020 (now 2021) edition of Festival Neue Literatur with Tess Lewis. We talk about the bureaucratic snafu that led her into a life of translation, how she fights the urge to revise translations between editions, the differences between translating a classic vs. a contemporary work, her work to promote gender parity among translators and translated authors, and how editors serve as gatekeepers that inadvertently perpetuate disparities. We also get into how studying printmaking brought her an understanding of what a work of art is and does as it shifts media, her literary ambassadorship of Chicago, how she overcame perfection-paralysis, and plenty more. This episode was intended to promote the Festival Neue Literatur, which was to be held April 23-26, 2020 in NYC but has been postponed to 2021; I decided to retain the portions about that to remind us of The Before Times. Give it a listen!

This isn’t strictly one of ’em, but you can listen to all my COVID Check-In episodes at The COVID-19 Sessions.

“Some would argue that as soon as you speak a sentence or write something on paper, you’re translating.”

“I’ve learned ways to mitigate doubt, and overcome the perfectionism that would paralyze me.”

“What sort of literature is grounded in spoken languages, and what kind is born on the page?”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

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About our Guest

Alta L. Price runs a publishing consultancy specialized in literature and nonfiction texts on art, architecture, design, and culture. A recipient of the Gutekunst Prize, she translates from Italian and German into English. Her latest publications include books by Martin Mosebach and Dana Grigorcea, and her translations of Alexander Kluge and Anna Goldenberg are forthcoming in 2020. Her work has appeared on BBC Radio 4, 3 Quarks Daily, Maharam Stories, Trafika Europe, Words Without Borders, and elsewhere. She is a member of PEN, the Authors Guild, the American Literary Translators Association, the Third Coast Translators Collective, and Cedilla & Co. She’s on Instagram as alta_l_price

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the home of Tess Lewis on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Alta & Tess Lewis (left) by me. It’s on my instagram. Nicer pic of Alta by Donnelly Marks.

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