Ugly Duckling Presse has been making waves* in the world of literary translation during the last few years. Elena Fanailova’s The Russian Version (translated by Stephanie Sandler and Genya Turovskaya), published by UDP (and reviewed here), won the 2010 “Best Translated Book Award for Poetry.”** This book is part of UDP’s Eastern European Poets Series (EEPS), which the press started in 2003, and which now boasts a back catalog of 27 publications, many of which are bilingual editions, ranging from the iconic (an edition of new translations of poems by Osip Mandelstam) to the very new (recent MFA graduate Natalie Lyalin’s book Try a Little Time Travel). (The latter (reviewed here) isn’t translated, so I’m cheating a little bit, but Lyalin did emigrate to the United States from Russia, having grown up in Leningrad.) Oh, and then there’s a new translation of The Song of Igor’s Campaign. According to UDP, it is “one of the foundational works of Russian literature. In muscular, expressive language it describes the disastrous campaign of 1185 waged by Prince Igor of Chernigov against the pagan Polovtsians.”
Ugly Duckling Presse also has a “Lost Lit” series, described as being “dedicated to publishing neglected works of 20th century poetry, prose, and important & resonant works that fall outside those confines.” Lost Lit was initiated in 2006 and has far fewer titles than the EEPS series. However, of its nine titles published to date, six are translations (two French and two Spanish poetry volumes, one collection by an 11th Century Chinese poet, and an unclassifiable pamphlet by a German author).
Virtually all of the UDP books are owned by the Iowa State University Library. The best way to get an overview is to type Ugly Duckling Presse in the Quick Search box on the e-Library home page, and then select “everything but articles” from the first drop-down column, “with my exact phrase” in the second column, and “anywhere in the record” in the third. After you enter the search, you can use the “Refine Results” section on the left side of the screen to limit the results by language, topic, or author.
Although much of what UDP publishes is not translated material, it is one of the increasing number of smaller presses that are becoming “found in translation,” if you will.
*Among the waves UDP has been making is an Ugly Duckling Presse podcast, featuring UDP authors reading and being interviewed.
**This award is given by “Three Percent,” a “resource for international literature at the University of Rochester,” that is closely tied to another up-and-coming publisher of literature in translation, Open Letter Books, about which, more… soon.