Kathleen Maris Paltrineri, who will receive an MFA in literary translation from the University of Iowa in May 2021, is the winner of a Fulbright Study/Research grant in Translation to Norway for 2021-22
Hometown: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Award: 2021-22 Fulbright Study/Research grant in Translation to Norway
Degree: MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Iowa
Could you give me a brief synopsis of what you'll be doing with your Fulbright?
I will translate and edit an anthology of contemporary ecopoetry—poetry that exhibits an awareness of ecology and environmental disaster—from Norway, including a critical introduction. The anthology will celebrate ecopoetry in the context of Norway’s linguistic diversity. I will co-translate with experts in the indigenous Sámi language group, and I will carry out my own translations from Bokmål and Nynorsk, the two written standards of the Norwegian language. Environmental poetry has a long history in Norway: from the national identity-building nature poetry of the 19th century to ecopoetry of the 20th and 21st century. My aim is to introduce Anglophone readers to critical voices in the field of ecopoetry.
What drew you to this field of study?
I came to literary translation as a poet. So many of the writers and works of literature I admire arrived to me via the hard work and ingenuity of literary translators. After overseeing the International Writing Program’s Fall Residency, where writers from around the world come to Iowa City to write and share their work, I decided to study literary translation myself. At Iowa, I translated Norwegian poet Kristin Berget’s and when the light comes it will be fantastic [og når det blir lyst blir det helt fantastisk] for my MFA thesis. Nominated for a Brage Prize in 2017, Berget’s poetry collection knits together themes of nature, language, and loss. Also, I have Norwegian ancestry, and I began studying the language in middle school at Skogfjorden, a Norwegian language summer camp. I continued my language studies at the University of Oslo.
"It is a dream to be able to dedicate myself entirely to literary translation while in Norway. This grant will provide me access to libraries, archives, and texts so that I may conduct my translation research, exploring how Norwegian ecopoetry investigates—thematically and formally—the relationships between nature and culture, language, and perception."
How do you envision this will influence your life/future career?
It is a dream to be able to dedicate myself entirely to literary translation while in Norway. This grant will provide me access to libraries, archives, and texts so that I may conduct my translation research, exploring how Norwegian ecopoetry investigates—thematically and formally—the relationships between nature and culture, language, and perception. This research will surely inform my literary translations. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to meet and work directly with the poets that I will translate. Building relationships and collaborating with poets as well as translators is a joyful part of the creative process. Ultimately, I plan to apply for a PhD that brings together creative writing, translation, and Scandinavian Studies, and to continue translating Norwegian literature throughout my career.
What advice do you have for future students interested in applying for a Fulbright? or What experiences at the UI inspired you to pursue a Fulbright?
I knew I wanted to apply for a Fulbright to Norway at the very start of my MFA experience because being in the country and living in the language one translates from are invaluable experiences for a translator. My advice to future students interested in applying for a Fulbright is to clearly articulate why your project is important to you and what you have to offer the program. Finally, know that you have supporters and resources at Iowa to help you. Get feedback early and often from your mentors.
Are there individuals you'd like to thank for their investment in this process?
I’m so grateful to Professor Aron Aji and Dr. Karen Wachsmuth for championing my project and for their careful attention to my numerous application drafts; to Jennifer Croft, David Rivard, Christopher Merrill, and Jørn Riseth for supporting me; to Scandinavian Studies scholars Jenna Coughlin and Melissa Gjellstad for their research guidance; to my Norwegian hosts Sissel Furuseth at the University of Oslo and Henning Howlid Wærp at the University of Tromsø; to Maren Moseng at the Lillehammer UNESCO City of Literature for her collaboration in the development in my community engagement project; and to the poets and co-translators who are trusting me with their work. I’m also grateful to the 2020 Iowa Stanley Graduate International Research Award reviewers for supporting my research and translation that helped inform my Fulbright proposal. Many thanks go to all my professors and tutors—translation, poetry, and Norwegian alike—and to my friends and colleagues who have supported me and made me a better writer, translator, and editor. Heaps of love to my husband Marc and to my whole family.
Students are encouraged to begin their funding searches and applications at least six months to one year in advance. Schedule an advising appointment with Karen Wachsmuth to discuss your interest in an international fellowship or begin an application (as a UI undergraduate student, graduate student, or alumna/us).