Words Without Borders (WWB) opens doors to international exchange through translation, publication, and promotion of the world’s best writing. WWB publishes selected prose and poetry on the web and in print anthologies (the next one to focus on the Islamic world), stages special events that connect foreign writers to the general public and media, develops materials for high school teachers to use foreign literature in classrooms, and continues to build an unparalleled online resource center for contemporary global writing.
Our ultimate aim is to introduce exciting international writing to the general public — travelers, teachers, students, publishers, and a new generation of eclectic readers — by presenting international literature not as a static, elite phenomenon, but a portal through which to explore the world. In the richness of cultural information we present, we hope to help foster a “globalization” of cultural engagement and exchange, one that allows many voices in many languages to prosper.
Why Words Without Borders?
Few literatures have truly prospered in isolation from the world. English-speaking culture in general and American culture in particular has long benefited from cross-pollination with other worlds and languages. Thus it is an especially dangerous imbalance when, today, 50% of all the books in translation now published worldwide are translated from English, but less than 3% are translated into English.
Along with the myriad ancient virtues of storytelling-giving pleasure, passing time, stimulating thought, connecting strangers — literature is a passport to places both real and imagined. In an increasingly interdependent world, rife with ignorance and incomprehension of other cultures, literature in translation has an especially important role to play.
What does Words Without Borders do?
Magazine The heart of WWB’s work is www.wordswithoutborders.org, its online magazine. Monthly issues feature new selections of contemporary world literature, most of which would never have been accessible to English-speaking readers without WWB.
Events WWB’s new reading series, “Tales from the Global Village,” and event partnerships with the PEN World Voices festival and other venues, including those in Nevada, Texas, Washington, DC, California, and elsewhere, give WWB readers an opportunity to meet and hear some of the authors WWB has presented online and in print.
Education WWB is now piloting themed units for use in the high school classroom, including suggested readings, study questions, writing prompts, suggestions for further study and a forum for teachers to discuss materials.
Anthologies WWB now travels to the beach, bed, and other web-free zones. Its first anthology, Literature from the “Axis of Evil” (New Press, 2006) was named “The book every American should read this year” by the Bloomsbury Review. WWB’s second anthology, Words Without Borders: The World through the Eyes of Writers (Anchor Books, 2007), was called “one of the best introductions to non-Western writers there is” by Kirkus.
Supporters Several large funders recognized from WWB’s earliest days the importance of its mission. These included the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, New York Council for the Humanities, the International Institute of Modern Letters, the Lannan Foundation, and Flora Family Foundation. Other foundations and many generous individual donors and members are expanding WWB’s support base every year.
Partners Words Without Borders is a partner of PEN American Center and the Center for Literary Translation at Columbia University, and is hosted by Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.
Website : http://www.wordswithoutborders.org/index.php
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