Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Sampling the system

It's sometimes a good idea for a translator to approach an English-language publisher with short samples of a foreign poet's work, particularly as in the case of Nordic literature such projects can often be subsidised by  govenrnment arts agencies. Sometimes the procedures for filing the applications is a little vague, though. In one recent case I found that having permission from the poet concerned was not enough - it seemed that the Nordic publisher also needed to agree to the sample translations being made, even though there was no question at this stage of the translations being published anywhere. This seems an odd system, and one wonders whether the agency concerned has understood the situation with regard to copyright correctly.  According to one agency official, the publisher's agreement is required "in order to exclude support for projects where rights holders are not interested in taking part in them." Yet if the "rights holder" is the poet or author who has granted permission and actively wants the translations to be made, one wonders where the problem is.

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