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Member Spotlight: Laura Nagle

author Laura Nagle and an image of her translation of Songs for the Gusle

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? Translation gives readers access not only to perspectives and settings we might not otherwise encounter but also to approaches to storytelling and structure with which we aren’t familiar. On a personal level, what I value most about the practice of literary translation is that it requires extraordinarily attentive reading and reflection. It is never enough to understand what the author is saying; I have to engage with their stylistic choices and consider why they chose to express an image or idea in precisely the way they did. By spurring me to empathize with an author’s mindset, literary translation brought me back to my own writing after a long hiatus.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? Between writing and translating, I always have several irons in the fire. When I reach an impasse with one project, I can always turn my attention to another manuscript that is in a different stage of drafting or revision.

What is your favorite time to write? My ideal scenario would be reading in the morning, translating in the afternoon, and writing in the evening.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? When you feel like you’re ready to start working on the next draft of a project, that’s often a sign that you’re a few days away from actually being ready.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? As both a writer and a translator, I’ve been juggling projects with contemporary and historical settings, and I find it inspiring when I encounter commonalities and themes that resonate in multiple contexts.

Laura Nagle’s translation of Songs for the Gusle, written by Prosper Mérimée, is out March 21 with Frayed Edge Press.