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by Writing Workshops Staff

5 months ago

Meet the Teaching Artist: Literary Translation, Taiwanese Literature, and Travel Writing with Jenna Tang

by Writing Workshops Staff

5 months ago

Meet the Teaching Artist: Literary Translation, Taiwanese Literature, and Travel Writing with Jenna Tang

by Writing Workshops Staff

5 months ago

Prepare to embark on an enlightening journey through the world of languages, literature, and translation with the brilliant Jenna Tang. As a distinguished Taiwanese writer, educator, and translator, Jenna possesses a remarkable talent for bridging linguistic and cultural gaps.

Her impressive portfolio includes translations between Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, French, and English, and her essays and translations have graced the pages of esteemed publications such as McSweeney's, Latin American Literature Today, and The Paris Review. In addition to her literary accomplishments, Jenna is also a board member and chairs the Equity Advocates Committee at the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA), making her a true advocate for diverse voices in the world of literature. Her forthcoming translations include prose from Lin Yi-Han (The Paris Review) and Lin Yi-Han’s novel, Fang Si-Chi’s First Love Paradise (HarperVia, HarperCollins).

Jenna Tang is excited to bring her expertise to with three captivating courses that promise to ignite your passion for language, travel, and storytelling.

In her 6-week Zoom workshop, Writing About Languages & Travels, Jenna will guide you on a creative exploration of how language and travel intersect, helping you craft evocative narratives that transport readers to far-off destinations.

In Understanding Taiwanese Literature, another enriching 6-week Zoom workshop, Jenna will unravel the beauty and complexity of Taiwanese literary traditions, providing an opportunity to delve into a rich cultural heritage often overlooked by the Western literary world.

Lastly, don't miss Jenna's Breaking into Literary Translation, a dynamic 4-week Zoom workshop designed to introduce aspiring translators to the art of bringing voices, stories, and poems from around the world to the English-speaking audience.

Each of these courses offers a unique gateway to the diverse realms of language, culture, and storytelling, guided by the expertise of Jenna Tang, a true luminary in the field of literary exploration.

Hi, Jenna. Please introduce yourself to our audience.

I'm a Taiwanese writer and literary translator who works between multiple languages: Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish, and French. I'm a huge language enthusiast, a fiction and nonfiction writer who is deeply in love with exploring new, experimental ways of storytelling, as well as understanding how languages connect with different stages/aspects of self and the things we love.

What made you want to teach this specific class? Is it something you are focusing on in your own writing practice? Have you noticed a need to focus on this element of craft? Or is this just your jam and you love it?

Languages and translation have always been topics I'm interested in exploring with others. By having classes for Writing About Languages & Travels, Literary Translation, and Taiwanese Literature, I'd love to share resources and creative writing practices that I love and constantly feel inspired with. I especially love sharing new methods of breaking writing conventions and traditional workshop formats and to support artists in any way I can.

Give us a breakdown of how the course is going to go. What can the students expect? What is your favorite part about this class you've dreamed up?

For my Writing about Languages & Travels workshop, the class functions primarily around pre-class readings and writing exercises, and starting from Week 2, we'll start workshopping students' writing projects; for Taiwanese lit class, it'll mainly be grounded by all the slides I prepared for each class, and it'll pretty much be an open space for students to ask questions and share resources; as for my translation workshop, all the same, pre-class readings and starting the workshop from Week 2!

What was your first literary crush?

Sanmao's writing deeply inspired me since I was a teenager. She's still one of my favorite authors now, even though she has been deceased for decades. Her writing fully demonstrated her free-spirited wanderings across Latin America, North Africa and other places around the world. As someone who also loves traveling, it's fascinating to read from her about what it was like to travel everywhere back in the 70s.

What are you currently reading?

I've been reading multiple books since the holidays: Owlish by Dorothy Tse, a strange and surreal debut novel from Hong Kong; Kim Ji-young, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-ju, and Our Share of Night, an impressive novel of horror from the Argentine author Mariana Enríquez. I've always been hovering between books coming from Latin American authors, authors from Taiwan, and writers from other countries that I don't yet know enough of.

How do you choose what you're working on? When do you know it is the next thing you want to write all the way to THE END?

When I travel in different cities, I often have my earphones on while exploring various neighborhoods. I took in all the landscapes while trying to remember them with the songs lingering by my ear. During those moments of sitting down or overlooking the scenery right in front of me, I would have this voice in my head that wrote passages and paragraphs down, and when back at home, I would physically write down everything, and usually those moments of writing would take me all the way till the end.

Where do you find inspiration?

Many kinds of storytelling, especially voices from different parts of the world––books, movies, TV series, and traveling. I'm really sensitive to sounds of water, in a good way, like by listening to the falling rain, an afternoon thunderstorm, or shower, I would have these sudden moments where I feel like a paragraph of story, the beginning of a personal essay have just come out of me. But all this is based on reading a lot, just finding those quiet time late in the night and just read and read and read until you dream something about the stories.

What is the best piece of writing wisdom you've received that you can pass along to our readers? How did it impact your work? Why has this advice stuck with you?

The best advice for me recently was: "Write whenever you can, especially when you feel that strong urge and voices coming out of your head." It reminds me not to wait when it comes to writing, it's all about catching those instants and making sure I keep my writing going. The constant flow of thoughts and actions would drive my procrastination away, which is what I most needed, and keeping me this way eliminates all the excuses I had for not sitting down to write.

What is your favorite book to recommend on the craft of writing? Why this book?

My recent favorite book is in translation, which is Lee Seong-bok's Indeterminate Inflorescence (tr. Anton Hur). Instead of addressing only craft, the book includes 472 passages that talks about language, poetry, writing, and the mentality of building a good relationship with our own writing. The book is very easy to access, yet offers ideas that bring us to reflect on our own process, I do recommend checking it out!

What’s your teaching vibe?

I love finding ways to make the writing process fun for the class. It has always been extremely valuable and encouraging for me when knowing writers and translators who took my class were able to pick up momentum for projects they left behind, or that the exercises and class discussions had inspired them to start off something new, and that they were able to keep writing/translating until the projects were ready to be published.

Write with Jenna:

Learn more about Jenna's upcoming classes here.

Instructor Jenna Tang is a Taiwanese writer, educator, and translator who translates between Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, French, and English. She is a board member and chair of the Equity Advocates Committee at the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA). Her translations and essays are published in McSweeney’s, Latin American Literature Today, World Literature Today, Catapult, AAWW, Words Without Borders, and elsewhere. Her forthcoming translations include prose from Lin Yi-Han (The Paris Review) and Lin Yi-Han’s novel, Fang Si-Chi’s First Love Paradise (HarperVia, HarperCollins).

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