The languages of literature

Through the Queens Council on the Arts (QCA) program Queens in Love with Literature, known as QUILL, works of different languages are getting a chance to be in the spotlight.

QUILL’s first event took place in June of 2010 and gave South Asian writers a chance to have their voices heard. QCA Project Coordinator Zoe Rabinowitz explained that the focus of QUILL has now shifted to that of the art of translation and authors working in different languages.

“We want to bring the cultural and arts to the communities in Queens and specifically provide a platform for the art of translation,” Rabinowitz said, adding that only three percent of all the books in the Unites States are works in translation.

Rabinowitz also said that QUILL is a way for community members to hear work by artists who live in Queens, in addition to being able to hear work in their own languages, which she described as “a pretty rare opportunity.”

The QUILL events have received positive feedback, said Rabinowitz. She added that the writing community is really excited to have a new community and outlet. Because of its diversity, Rabinowitz said that Queens provides the opportunity to make use of the different languages spoken and given them a voice.

Through events such as a recent April 16 one in Jackson Heights, Rabinowitz said QCA is able to create “that sense that Queens is a place for writers.” In addition to holding literary events that typically might happen in Manhattan or Brooklyn, the program highlights Queens authors. However, authors from other boroughs also participate.

Rabinowitz said that it has been special for the authors to be able to invite their community and neighbors to these events. She also said that some of the people attending have been those who might not travel to other boroughs for literary events.

“We’ve been able to reach a more diverse range of audience members,” she said.

On Saturday, June 18, QUILL will hold an event in Astoria, at a location to be determined, that will feature Middle Eastern and Mediterranean authors. This event is being held as part of Queens Art Express, which is an art festival along the 7 train that will run from Thursday, June 16 to Sunday, June 19.

During the event, the winner of the first ever QUILL Translation Award will be announced. The honor will recognize a work in progress by a Queens-based translator, and Rabinowitz said that goal is for it to become an annual award.

Rabinowitz said that she hopes to see QUILL continue to grow and partner with other literary organizations.

“I would like to see QUILL really help to solidify a writers’ community in Queens,” she said.

Authors and translators interested in participating in future QUILL events can contact Rabinowitz at zoe@queenscouncilarts.org. For more information on the program and to keep updated on future events, visit www.queencouncilarts.org.


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