Mónica de la Torre, Danielle Dutton, Elaine Garza, Gabrielle Giattino, Carl Phillips, and Jeffrey Yang.
Circumference Books is a partnership with Circumference Magazine.
In December 2002, Stefania Heim, Dan Visel, and I founded Circumference magazine, a journal of poetry in translation that publishes all work in the original language alongside new English translations. At the time, there were few opportunities to publish new poetry in translation in US journals, and there were no journals devoted to poetry in translation. We wished then that we had more access to the poetry being written in languages other than English, and we decided to start the journal, in part, so that we could in the end read it.
Through our work with Circumference magazine, we were exposed to translations that blew our minds, that changed the way we thought about poetry, about language, about culture, about thought itself. We worked with translators and poets who were generous with their time and work and who were all approaching translation with thoughtful innovation and devotion.
We published eight issues of Circumference before handing it on to new editors in 2011. In that almost-decade we published work from dozens of languages, and much of that work went on to find a home in full-length volumes. We were immensely proud of the poetry in Circumference, and how each issue presented not only a range of languages, but also a range of approaches to the art of translation. We were also proud to be a part of a blossoming of journals and presses devoted to translation and a deepening conversation about the role of translation in the literary landscape.
Now Dan Visel and I—with Stefania Heim as Editor-at-Large—have founded Circumference Books, a press for poetry in translation. There continues to be so much groundbreaking work being written across the globe that never reaches readers in English, work that is being lovingly translated. We look forward to publishing books for readers who are hungry for potent voices from around the world, as we were when we started the journal, and as we remain.
In many ways, we’re still asking the same questions we did when we started off—and these are the questions that make translation so interesting and problematic and fun—questions like:
- Can a poem be translated? or What is gained in translation?
- What are new and respectful and beautiful ways to present work in two or more languages?
- How much context do we need to read a translation?
- What happens to a poem when it moves from one language to another?
- Can the relationship between translator and poet be a model for other kinds of relationships?
- How can poems engage different communities in a conversation?
- How can translation support linguistic diversity?
Each of our books will answer these questions in different ways and will bring more questions into the conversation. We hope you’ll join us!
—Jennifer Kronovet, Editor and Publisher of Circumference Books
December 11, 2018: “Publishing Poetry in Translation” in Poets & Writers
Marwa Helal writes about Circumference Books in the January/February 2019 issue of Poets & Writers.