happy new year, happy birthday asymptote

winter sun mikkeli 2012Happy New Year!

Happy birthday Asymptote!

If you feel you didn’t get enough presents (and there’s still four days of Christmas left) or you didn’t make ambitious enough new year’s resolutions about reading more in as many languages as possible (which I, dear reader, would never do), then Asymptote is for you: both a gift and a challenge.

This excellent world literature journal gathers translations with audio extracts from around the world, and it’s all accessible for free. Asymptote’s fourth birthday is being celebrated by the Free Word Centre in a fortnight’s time, so you’ve still got time to get to the party. If you can’t make it, here are three delights from the boxful online.

The first delight: The word itself, asymptote, which was a new one for me and is one of the best definitions of the translation process I’ve heard in a while: An asymptote is “the dotted line on a graph that a mathematical function may tend towards but never reach”, and the striving to bridge that gap is what translation does.

The second delight: A Story being read aloud to you. Asymptote’s first podcast, on mythology, which takes you across continents and centuries from Venezuela to Ancient Greece. If you’re already back at work and starting to dream of the next holiday, you can listen to this right where you are.

The third delight: Just one poem, in Faroese, which fits for the turn of the year. The author is Agnar Artúvertin (who has translated all sorts of people from Sappho to Blok) and the translator is Matthew Landrum.


Strnljs brnna

sjnlk vrd spaldr

olir drknr

gml flk bdj yngr

um a leia se yvrum

mn alikv

stndr lt i sta


Candles burn out.

We act out our dramas,

empty bottles

of beer, sometimes do good

deeds — help the elderly

with street crossings —

but nothing ever changes.



Translator, editor, writer, reader

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Posted in international, literature, translation

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