Arielle Burgdorf presents "Prétend" in conversation with Meg Berkobien

Arielle Burgdorf presents "Prétend" in conversation with Meg Berkobien

Thursday, April 18th 2024
7:00 pm
Red Emma's
Translation has the power to unmake us, only to bring us into new life —together. Join us for a conversation on literary translation and its many uses as an ethic and art practice.

PRÉTEND follows a young translator from Montreal whose name and identity are in constant flux. Our protagonist begins the story as Jean, a woman trapped in an abusive marriage to a dangerous man named Konstantin. Isolated and alienated in London, Jean soon becomes John, and her relationship with Konstantin starts to unravel when he asks her to translate his poems from Russian. After she begins to uncover some of Konstantin’s deceits, she agrees to meet a reclusive artist in Canada named M., and leaves Konstantin, becoming Jeanne upon her return to Montréal.

Working with M. on a new translation is magical and restorative for Jeanne, as she learns for the first time in her life what it might be like to have a translator-author relationship free of dated ideas on fidelity, domination, and the invisibility of the translator. Jeanne also starts to realize she has feelings for M. and wants more than just a business relationship together. But M. has a secret too, and just when it comes to light, Konstantin lands in Montréal and creates chaos. Jeanne uncovers Konstantin’s biggest secret and becomes determined to expose him, forcing him to leave her alone once and for all—but will he give in so easily? And will she find a way to work things out with M., or leave Montréal behind for a new city and a new identity?

Arielle Burgdorf is a writer originally from Washington, D.C. They received their MFA from Chatham University in Pittsburgh where they taught in the Words Without Walls program at Allegheny County Jail. Their writing and translations have appeared in Lambda Literary, Broken Pencil Magazine, Exilé Sans Frontières, Maximum Rocknroll, and elsewhere. They are currently pursuing a PhD in Literature at UCSC focused on queer and feminist experimental writers from Québec.

Megan Berkobien is a bookseller, educator, organizer, and translator from Catalan and Spanish.

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