Life, translation, and the new normal

To begin with, I think it’s worth mentioning that, for me, life and translation are somewhat intertwined. Translation is my life, but my life is not all about translation. So let’s consider this reading from that angle.

But first things first: How are you hanging in there? I sincerely hope things are well, considering the circumstances, of course. But do share with me in the comments below how your life has changed with this new normal.

I’m on my 58th day of self-quarantine.

  • I’m single, I live by myself, no children.
  • I’m a freelance translator who has always worked at home, so nothing changed there.
  • I work in an area and with clients that have not been affected by the pandemic. (Come to IT, y’all!)
  • I’m an introvert (although it may not seem so; believe me, even I was shocked when my therapist told me so) and I love staying at home, watching TV (God bless Netflix!).
  • I live in a small town that has not been seriously affected (yet?).
  • I can shop online for most of the things I need.
  • If I really need to go out, I have a car.

Biggest changes in my routine: No weekly manicure (I’ll live), no yoga classes twice a week, no gym during the week, not seeing my nephews (this is hard!), no occasional meetings with friends to talk over a drink and laugh.

If this does not mean privilege, I don’t know what does.

I should be feeling gooood, right? I should be jumping in total bliss.

Well, one of the things COVID-19 is teaching us is that absolutely nothing is obvious, expected, and black-in-white.

Everything started in the beginning of my self-quarantine, when I came to the conclusion that my fully planned and paid-for vacation trip to Europe with my mom would have to be cancelled. Oh, the headache to cancel everything (which I’m still doing, btw)! Oh, the disappointment! Oh, the despair of having absolutely no idea when I’ll be able to take a vacation (something I religiously do at least once a year). After all, why take a vacation to stay at home, something I do every single day? And all of this while dealing with the dreaded COVID-19 reality. Oh, the fear! I lost it. I had a terrible week where I just felt like sleeping and crying, and didn’t feel like working (yes, me!).

Since then, it’s been like an emotional roller coaster.

It’s like I’m bipolar or something.

I had down-in-the-dumps, cry-my-eyes-out, let-me-sleep-forever moments, and then I’d have ok moments. I didn’t feel like posting on social media. I couldn’t even think about my podcast and blog. I hated every single live! I barely had the strength to work, so I saved all my energy to it, which was already a huge effort.

I miss going out with friends and travelling. I miss hugs. I still don’t feel like exercising at home. For me, it doesn’t make sense to exercise (a relaxing time) where I work (online). I need the human “contact” and presence. After all, it’s already a big deal working where I live. And being stuck at home, not being able to leave, makes things worse.

Since I’m an introvert by nature and I love being with myself, I’ve learned to recognize, understand, and question my feelings and behaviors. Now I’ve learned something else: Embracing them.

No matter who you are, what you do, and to what extent your life has been affected by the pandemic, it’s absolutely normal to feel sad, depressed, or not your usual self. We’re living in unprecedented times filled by fear. We have absolutely no idea what the future holds and when this nightmare will go away (if it will ever be completely gone). This reality, in itself, can really make we lose our minds.

So here’s what I have learned so far:

  • It’s totally ok to feel the way you are feeling. Learn to identify, understand, and question your feelings, but, most of all, embrace them. Think of yourself as a scared child who needs love, understanding, and a great deal of pampering. Treat yourself to whatever you feel you need.
  • You don’t feel like exercising in front of your mobile phone, computer, or TV? Then don’t! Someday, somehow, the feeling will come, or you will find something you feel like doing. Give it time.
  • Do you feel like eating everything and a bit more? Just do it! Again, someday, somehow, you will feel like eating healthier. Try to do it, of course, but don’t feel bad for not feeling like it. Do not judge yourself. Be patient and caring.
  • You don’t have to take all the free courses available, watch all lives, attend all webinars, read all books, learn all languages. Living and hanging in there during these difficult times are, by themselves, effort enough.
  • Try to shield and protect yourself from the crude reality as much as possible. If you don’t have to, why research every single detail and news about COVID-19? It won’t change anything. The reality is heartbreaking, and if we really think about all those people who are dying alone, those family members and friends who can’t even properly say good-bye to their loved ones, those who lost their jobs or who are suffering financial losses and going through tough financial difficulties, we will break. I did. Do whatever you can to try to help however you can, but don’t think about it too much, for your own mental sake. It’s not selfishness, as long as you don’t ignore the reality and do whatever you can to help those in need. It’s self-preservation. After all, we’re at war. Do your part, but prioritize yourself.
united-nations-covid-19-response-Chevon Beckley-unsplash

Photo by Chevon Beckley on Unsplash

I wanted to share my experience with you because I struggled to come to these conclusions myself. Lately, I’ve been having good weeks. I’m feeling more motivated and happier to revive my blog and podcast, and social media channels. I’m even participating in lives! I don’t know if this will last and for how long, but I have to leverage it.

Embrace your bad moments and take advantage of your good ones.

Live one day at a time.

Be safe.

Don’t be hard on yourself.

And know you are not alone.

Greatest Women in Translation: Michèle Métail


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Dearest readers,

I’m alive! Tough times, huh? I hope you are all doing fine, at least considering our circumstances.

Bear with me while I try to get back on track with posts this month. But at least now I hope I manage to update the blog as I should. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, please welcome our next Greatest Women in Translation interviewee, French poet and translator Michèle Métail, nominated by Jody Gladding back in March.

Michèle Métail-2

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1. You were the first female member of Oulipo, “an extremely divergent group of writers, all of whom adhered to the same basic literary principle in that they observed self-imposed writing constraints,” as described by this Poetry International Archives article. Could you tell us a bit more about Oulipo?

The main purpose of Oulipo, as planned by its founders (Raymond Queneau and François Le Lionnais in 1960), was to create new writing rules (based on mathematics), that other writers could also use and let evolve. A historical example was the sonnet. After my cooptation in the group in 1975, I developed another kind of relationship between text and form, where form is also part of meaning, so that a new form appears only in one work and is never used a second time. This relationship between text and form was the reason why I left the group in 1998. However, I am always working with rules, constraints. Among the new rules promoted by Oulipo, several of them concern translation extending the concept to the homophonic or lipogram translation (see Georges Perec translating Rimbaud, for example), or the Multitranslation invented by Outranspo.

2. Together with Bernard Heidsieck, you founded Dixit, “a movement that sets out to merge the different artistic expressive forms rather than to emphasize the differences between them,” according to the same article above. Could you also tell us a bit more about Dixit?

Bernard Heidsieck was a French sound and visual poet who was connected to other poets of the same movement, all over the world, like John Giorno, Bob Cobbing, Haroldo da Campos, the Wiener Gruppe and so on, at a time festivals were organized in some countries but France was looking like a desert in the matter. So we founded this association and decided, in 1980, to organize a big festival, Poésie sonore internationale, in three towns: Le Havre, Rennes and Paris (Centre Pompidou). In collaboration with institutes we invited poets from several European countries: Germany, Austria, England, Italy, Sweden, Yugoslavia, as well as eight French poets. When we perform together, we question translation and the meaning of words, sometimes being possible to understand without speaking the language. This festival was successful but at the same time Jean-Jacques Lebel was stating the same fact and founded Polyphonix, a great nomad festival. After a long period without possibilities to promote this non-academic form of poetry, both associations were developing the same purpose. So we joined Lebel and Polyphonix, and broke up our association. Later in 1995 I founded, with composer Louis Roquin, another association: Les Arts contigus, a project to connect different artistic expressive forms. We organized great exhibitions with readings, concerts. The concept of contiguity emphasizes the borderline between two expressive forms, such as visual poetry = the text as an image, and visual scores for music = when the composer doesn’t write notes as usual but creates new signs to express new sonorities. We also invited artists from other countries. The question of creation in another language and translation was acute.

3. In some of your poems you use formats taken from other media, such as a series consisting of 10 lines with 15 letters each, derived from the standard measurements of photographs. Could you tell us a bit more about your poetry creation process?

I often work with photos. As I arrived in Berlin as a DAAD guest for one year, I began to take pictures of the town through reflections on windows. It was an unreal town, inversed, with broken lines that I saw. I wanted to write about my discovery, my experience in the town, and decided to write poetry in the form of my photo prints: 10 x 15 cm, that is, poems of 10 verses and 15 letters each. With these few letters, the syntax was also broken, like the reflections. It’s what I call photo format in the work Cadastre (in Toponyme: Berlin), grouped in a series of 24 photos and 36 poems (format of the negative). In another work about Japan, I used as text pattern the Genkô Yôshi, a scholar’s paper with 400 squares to fill. In this series, each text contains 400 letters. I’m always looking for measures related to my subject and, as I said, I only use them once.

4. How was translation introduced in your life?

I studied German for the first time at the university. I learned about contemporary poetry through the Wiener Gruppe, when I lived in Vienna (1972-73), but this kind of text is impossible to translate faithfully, because they work on several levels (sound, visual), not only meaning. Later, when I lived in Berlin (2000-2001), the literaturWERKSTATT (today Haus für Poesie) organized a meeting with French and German poets. My partner was Thomas Kling. He was also skeptical about poetry translation but it was indeed a fantastic experience. We both adopted one another’s work and re-built it in our own language. We found a real complicity, and our exchanges were intense. We had long discussions about the use of some words. At the end of the workshop there was a reading, it was a great moment. Thomas Kling found the same rhythm in his translation as in my poems. Other workshops followed, in Berlin and other places. It’s always an opportunity not only to know the work of other poets, but also to increase our own poetic world.

In several other projects I use patterns, constraints used by translators to create a version in their own language. For example, Marcella Durand translated my book about Marseille (a panorama of the town in 14 views), each view in 48 lines of 24 letters, without punctuation. Marcella transposed this constraint into English (The Earth’s Horizons, Black Square Editions). She explains she needed to create her own language, as I did. It’s not a translation word for word but keeping the spirit of the text, sometimes in other words. In the same way I worked with the German poet Ulrike Draesner on a translation in 5 syllables of a long poem about China. Working with the German language was particularly difficult because words are longer and syntax more complicated but the original poem has 2,870 verses, and she translated it in the same length. I’m also working with the Austrian poet Christian Steinbacher. I translated his text, and without speaking French he re-built some of my texts in German, for example, Portraits Robots (Phantome, Phantome, soon by Korrespondenzen). In all these cases the publication is bilingual. Both poems evolve in parallel. That’s my experience as a poet translator and a translated poet.

5. Could you tell us a bit more about your life as a translator?

I talked about translating from the German, but the most I do is from the Chinese, a few texts from contemporary poets and more from old Chinese. The starting point was Georges Perec’s death. After his funeral, I came back home and was so sad, I couldn’t do anything. Suddenly, I saw a book on my desk, that I had recently bought: Chinese Poetic Writing by François Cheng (available in English by Calligrams). I opened the book aimlessly and read a sentence about the possibility to write palindromes in Chinese. Georges Perec wrote the longest palindromic text in French. I interpreted this coincidence as a sign of my diseased friend and decided to study Chinese in order to learn more about this type of poetry, for myself. It was in 1983 and I was 33 years old. In 1994 I wrote a doctoral thesis about Chinese reversible poems with François Cheng. I never thought I could become a bookworm and write about a very old tradition. I was a poet and didn’t want to teach at the university, I was also too old, but I tried another way, a creative way, to pass on old Chinese texts. My translations are part of a larger project that focus on China today, that is, reading about the past and better understanding the present. For example, I travelled for three months throughout China (from East to West) on the same path as a Song dynasty poet (12th century), Lu You, who was the first to write a travel diary in China. I took it as a guide and went to the same places, collecting landscape poetry. The book (Voyage au pays de Shu) mix extracts of Lu You’s diary and mine. It’s the first part, Journal 1170 – 1998, but the book is reversible and the second part is an anthology of collected poems, 140 in total, illustrating all the 26 chapters of the diaries. The reader can read the diary and the anthology separately or move from one to the other. In 2011 I took another trip on the same path as a Tang dynasty poet, Wang Wei (8th century), a great landscape poet and painter. The book (Le paysage après Wang Wei) also consists of two parts: 20 views on current China with references to the past in places where Wang Wei had been and a new translation of his famous work Le recueil de la rivière Wang, that contains 20 poems on his own estate. This place was the goal of my trip and it was very instructive about modern China!

6. How was your experience of being translated by Jody Gladding, our previous interviewee, in Wild Geese Returning: Chinese Reversible Poems?

It was a great deal for Jody Gladding because she doesn’t speak Chinese and translated from the French, but she was fascinated by this masterpiece written by a woman in the middle of the 4th century. My translation from the Chinese was already particular because the diagram poem contains 841 characters that give over 3,000 poems. For a group of 36 characters inscribed in a square for example, you find 64 different ways to read a poem, and in a translation you need to write the 64 poems or some of them. They cannot be restricted to one square, like in Chinese. We must develop, unfold the original diagram. The translation cannot be a picture like the original but it has to be informative. We had a lot of exchanges about references that Su Hui recalled, about the meaning of some words in connection with the way of life of the time, of history. It was also for me a great opportunity to improve my translation. Translating is always a dynamic process, that’s why it is exciting.

7. Now it’s your turn to nominate our next Great Woman in Translation.

The Italian translator Valentina Gosetti. She published, in collaboration with Andrea Bedeschi and Adriano Marchetti, an important anthology about French women poetry from Romanticism to modern times: Poeti di Francia e Oltre. Dal Romanticismo a oggi. I discovered a lot of poets I had never read.

Greatest Women in Translation: Jody Gladding


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Welcome back to our Greatest Women in Translation series!

This month, after a one-month break (my bad), we return with the series with Jody Gladding, nominated by Linda Coverdale.

Jody Gladding

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1. What came first, the poet or the translator? How?

Poetry came first. Translation followed as a way to earn my living. But its real appeal is that it lets me work with language in the same close way—and I don’t have to come up with content.

2. You wrote Translations from Bark Beetle (Milkweed Editions, 2014), a book of poems that, according to this paper, helps “students get the profundity of the Latin of translate, which points toward a carrying across.” Could you tell us more about the book?

The title comes from a series of poems that are, literally, translations of bark beetle engravings, with the original “text” as the facing page. I include notes on bark beetle grammar and invent a new pronoun form. I’m playing, of course—for me, play often precedes discovery. If insect marks can be a text, then the realm of linguistic beings expands enormously. Imagine the possibilities for translators!

3. Besides being a poet and translator you are also an artist. Do you combine poetry and translation into your works of art? If so, how?

The art I make extends from the poetry, and translation plays a part as well. My latest project, for instance, is a collection of nests in which text—strips of it cut from a nineteenth-century French phrase book—is included as one more nesting material ( I’m interested in how poems operate as physical acts, in three-dimensional space, in the world at large. Artists like Cecilia Vicuña, Ann Hamilton, and Roni Horn also explore these questions, although they’ve come to them through visual art and I’ve gotten there through writing.

4. You translated two meditation-related books by François Cheng. Did your experience translating the books inspire you to start meditating? I ask as someone who has tried meditation a couple of times but hasn’t given up just yet.

Keep trying! François Cheng is a remarkable figure. He’s written extensively on Chinese art and poetry as well as being something of a zen master.  I’m married to a Chinese translator, David Hinton, so I was already familiar with Cheng’s work when I translated his meditions on beauty and on death. I’ve meditated from time to time, but don’t have a regular practice, though I do practice yoga. 

5. François Cheng is also a translator. Is it a different experience to translate for an author who is also a translator?

I’ve translated three authors who are also translators, all of whom translate Chinese: François Cheng, François Julien, and Michèle Métail. I’ve also translated a French translation of The Tao Te Ching into English. In all these cases, the main difference about the experience was dealing with three languages, not just two. Though in the company of Chinese, French and English hardly seem like different languages.

6. Are there any particularities in translating French into English that you like and/or dislike?

Well, as Linda Coverdale points out in your last blog, the on is a great and versatile French pronoun that we don’t have a good equivalent for in English. And going the opposite way, a particularity that keeps striking me, especially this winter as I’m spending it in France, is that there’s no word in French for home. 

7. Now it’s your turn to nominate our next Great Woman in Translation.

Thanks for this opportunity to bring women translators into the limelight. I’d like to nominate Michèle Métail, a wonderful French poet who translates from both German and Chinese. She has translated into French the remarkable “reversible poem” by the 4th century woman poet Su Hui. A grid of 840 characters (originally embroidered on silk as a gift to her husband), it can be read as many as 12,000 different ways.

Guest post: Benefícios dos óleos essenciais

Sem bem-vindos de volta à série de convidados!

Hoje, recebemos a Juliana Mendes, patrocinadora e palestrante do evento “Dia do bem-estar”, que estou organizando com o William Cassemiro. Ele será realizado no dia 8 de fevereiro, em São Paulo. As inscrições estão abertas e são limitadas! Saiba mais aqui.


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A renovação pela tradução

A tradução chegou na minha vida durante meu estágio de faculdade. Sou formada em Produção Editorial – área que escolhi pelo meu amor aos livros. No meu estágio em uma grande editora, trabalhei em uma revista para adolescentes que usava matérias de uma revista americana. Um dos fatores mais importantes para a minha contratação foi justamente o fato de eu ser fluente em inglês. Essa experiência foi extremamente importante em minha carreira e nela pude melhorar meu vocabulário em uma época em que ainda não tínhamos o Google – sim, muito tempo atrás. Lá também atuava como produtora de moda e fotografia, aprendi na prática processos de editoração eletrônica e pude descobrir como todo o processo gráfico se desenvolve com todo o dinamismo, pesquisa, escrita e revisão. Tornei-me uma pessoa capaz de lidar com muitas tarefas que eu hoje utilizo em meu trabalho como tradutora e que fazem com que eu possa oferecer um resultado melhor para meus clientes.

Após meu estágio, fui contratada por uma rede de lojas de roupas femininas. Cuidava de todo o visual da marca, mas também dava treinamentos sobre vendas, postura das equipes e visual. Nesse momento, eu conheci uma pessoa que mais tarde mudaria toda a minha vida.

Depois dessa experiência, tive muitas outras que acredito terem sido importantes em meu processo de crescimento como pessoa, líder e empresária.

A tradução sempre esteve presente em minhas outras empreitadas. Sempre aparecia com a necessidade do meu trabalho – como secretária de presidência ou para ajudar algum amigo estrangeiro, alguém da família e em alguns estudos em que eu me interessei e me propus a fazer para meu crescimento pessoal. Entre esses estudos, muito material de PNL, numerologia, espiritualidade e Aromaterapia.

A Aromaterapia entrou na minha vida cerca de 20 anos atrás, por meio de uma amiga e coach que me orientava e que me fez entender que não podemos apenas crescer profissionalmente – nosso lado pessoal é uma parte importante do processo de crescimento profissional. Não adianta só pensar na carreira e esquecer que você tem que estar feliz para conseguir ter criatividade, resiliência, produtividade e realização.

Comecei usando o óleo de lavanda, como a maioria das pessoas. A lavanda é, sem dúvida, a planta mais utilizada em fragrâncias, cosméticos, perfumes. Todo mundo tem a memória afetiva da lavanda registrada em seu sistema límbico, parte do sistema neurológico que cuida de nossas memórias afetivas e remete a sabores, aromas e lembranças (boas ou ruins).

A Aromaterapia cresceu muito nesses últimos 20 anos. O que antes era hábito mais comum entre os europeus recebeu o input americano e a busca por pesquisas científicas sobre plantas, óleos e aromas – processos de extração, níveis de pureza, maneiras de uso e resultados. A humanidade, mesmo crescendo em velocidade galopante nos últimos anos em tecnologia, percebeu que a busca por resultados em torno da felicidade e bem-estar também era necessária.

Disso vieram as pesquisas sobre alimentação, nutrição esportiva, restrições alimentares, superalimentos, suplementação e regulações na indústria de alimentos que terão que se adequar a esse novo mercado formado por quem busca cuidar melhor do corpo e da mente.

Durante minha jornada profissional, conheci muitas pessoas que foram importantes para o meu crescimento, principalmente para o desafio de ser empreendedora.

Após anos trabalhando como secretária, gerente regional de bilheterias de teatro, área comercial (sim, sou uma vendedora nata) tive a chance de trabalhar com a pessoa que mais me ensinou sobre ser uma empresária. Sobre resiliência, escolhas, foco, resultados. Sobre não ter medo de trabalhar, sobre não ter uma visão a curto prazo para os resultados que sempre desejei atingir. Fui secretária do Abraham Kasinsky, lenda da indústria automobilística brasileira. Foram quatro anos de dedicação diária, amor, aprendizado com um homem que ditou quais deveriam ser as regras para a nossa indústria. Destemido, começou seu império “com uma caneta Parker e peito”, como ele mesmo dizia. Essa visão de como as pessoas devem ser lideradas – com igualdade e respeito, como as empresas precisam de resultados, como não devemos temer dar um passo maior quando chega o momento de decisão para a próxima etapa de grande crescimento – aprendi com ele.

Pude colocar essa visão em prática quando, com meu marido, comprei uma loja de produtos naturais de uma grande rede de franquias. O desafio foi enorme. Aprendi a ter que dar resultados para poder manter não só a minha família, mas a de meus colaboradores também. Aprendi a ouvir as pessoas (longo processo de treinamento com o Sr. Kasinsky) e identificar suas necessidades, atendê-las como pessoas e não apenas como clientes. Essa loja me fez adotar novos hábitos de alimentação e qualidade de vida. A ter metas, cumpri-las e superá-las. A ser dona do meu nariz com todas as consequências que isso traz.

Após quase 7 anos com a loja, tivemos uma excelente oferta e resolvemos vendê-la. Já havíamos atingido nossos objetivos – já tínhamos transformado uma loja quebrada em uma loja maravilhosa. Já havíamos mudado de endereço. Já havíamos multiplicado nossos resultados absurdamente e já havíamos cumprido nosso caminho naquele que foi, sem dúvida, um período de muito crescimento para nós.

Em 2017, um ano antes da venda de nossa loja, eu já estava em busca de um plano B. Eu já não tinha mais tanta satisfação com o meu trabalho. Tinha estagnado. Comecei a me perguntar com o quê eu gostaria de trabalhar e decidi que tinha que ser algo que eu realmente amasse. Foi aí que a tradução voltou à minha vida. Fiz alguns cursos para voltar preparada. Tirei minha certificação do idioma inglês.

Em 2018, vendemos a loja e nos mudamos para Santos – cidade em que eu sempre quis viver. Passei um ano inteiro estudando, fazendo novas conexões. Fui atrás de muito conteúdo para poder me adequar ao mercado e desenvolver essa minha “nova” carreira.

Veja, o crescimento que obtemos é aquele que temos como objetivo. Nós ditamos com quem e em qual mercado queremos trabalhar. Com experiência e trabalho sério, podemos estabelecer nossas tarifas, conquistar novos clientes, melhorar nosso rendimento. Há que ter muita determinação para ser um freelancer. Há que se perder medos, enfrentar novos desafios e aprender todos os dias – com os erros e como melhorar os acertos também.

Em 2019, comecei mais um negócio que consigo gerenciar com o meu trabalho como tradutora. Sou distribuidora e educadora em Aromaterapia da maior fabricante de óleos essenciais do mundo. Descobri que não sabia muita coisa sobre os óleos essenciais – mesmo tendo desenvolvido em minha loja um local de referência para compra e orientação sobre o uso de óleos essenciais.

Traduzi muito material para estudo, pesquisa e treinamento. Pude pesquisar mais profundamente, estudar, aplicar e ver a diferença que a pureza de um óleo pode trazer para a vida. Nesse processo interior, apliquei os óleos no meu dia a dia de maneira nova, consciente, consistente e vi os resultados não só em meu trabalho e felicidade, mas em toda a minha família. Pude conhecer pessoas que têm uma visão de vida muito parecida com a minha e ver um novo horizonte profissional, trazendo de volta para a minha vida a prática de ouvir e ajudar as pessoas (adoro isso!).

Os óleos podem ser usados de várias maneiras, e suas moléculas entram em nosso corpo pelo olfato, pele ou ingestão – veja, não estou falando de qualquer coisa que você encontre por aí dizendo ser um óleo essencial de grade terapêutica. Assim como temos cuidado ao escolher nossos alimentos, cosméticos, produtos para a casa e suplementos – que entrarão dentro do nosso maior templo, nosso corpo – temos que ter cuidado ao escolher nossos óleos.

Algumas dicas de óleos essenciais e uso:

Lavanda – o mais universal dos óleos – tem efeitos calmantes para a alma e pele, cicatrizante (aplique em queimaduras e verá), limpeza e desinfecção.

Alecrim – esse óleo é conhecido por seu uso em situações em que precisamos aumentar nosso foco e concentração – ajuda a oxigenar as células do cérebro, aumentando nosso desempenho.

Limão – temos que ter cuidado com o óleo de limão e qualquer outro óleo ou blend que contenha frutas cítricas. Eles são fotossensíveis e podem causar manchas na pele. O óleo de limão é rico em limoneno – substância exaustivamente estudada e pesquisada por suas propriedades antioxidantes. Promove a alegria, equilibra o pH do nosso organismo quando ingerido.

Ficou curioso?

No dia 8 de fevereiro, serei palestrante no Dia do Bem-Estar, evento destinado a pessoas que trabalham geralmente sozinhas, empreendedoras, e que, por isso, muitas vezes acabam extrapolando o seu limite e enfrentando grandes níveis de estresse.

Se você é uma dessas pessoas, participe!

Em meus canais também promovo vídeos e treinamento sobre o uso dos óleos e suas propriedades. Dê uma olhada em minhas redes sociais: LinkedIn,, site, página da Young Living, Instagram e Instagram da Clever Essentials.

Entre em contato e ficarei feliz em te ouvir e ajudar:

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Juliana Mendes é tradutora técnica, empresária e educadora em óleos essenciais.

Greatest Women in Translation: Linda Coverdale


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Happy New Year, dear readers! I hope you have had a great holiday season and are ready to rock 2020.

Let’s start by welcoming our first interviewee of 2020, Linda Coverdale, nominated by Ros Schwartz.

Linda Coverdale

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1. You told me that once you wandered into translation, you “took to it like a hermit in a cave, Saint Jerome in flip-flops.” How did you wander into translation?

By accident, at long last. Both sides of my family loved books and languages, and my parents even moved to France for a year so their young children could soak up French. Back home again, I studied Latin, Spanish, some German, kept reading, wrote stories, but worried that writing was too vague and risky to bank on for a profession. Good at biology, dreaming of oceanography, I picked my university early for its bio department, then barely survived bio-chemistry. Once at Brown, I listed French as my major, just to tread water for a while. Fascinated by ancient Egypt ever since I fell spellbound forever as a child, in my one and only experience of religious awe, before seven massive statues of the lioness-headed goddess Sekhmet in a dim and deserted hall at the Met, I eagerly took courses in Egyptology, and felt grounded again. Then I learned that the department chairman had mastered fourteen languages, plus the three types of hieroglyphics. So: another misfire.

Then French literature became a wonderland, and the junior year abroad was an adventure in all directions. Discovering the critical and literary works of writers like Blanchot, Richard, Poulet, and Bachelard led me to graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University, where Derrida, De Man, Deleuze et al were holding court before Yale lured them away. The doctoral program’s year in Paris brought courses at the École normale supérieure, the École pratique des hautes études, the Sorbonne—and playing hooky at the Cinémathèques of Chaillot and the rue d’Ulm. My French dissertation was a labor of true love: Les romans d’Albertine, all because I’d sneaked the Scott Moncrieff Remembrance of Things Past from my parents’ bookshelves when I was about twelve, and God only knows what I made of it, but that die was cast. Offered a good teaching job, however, I balked. I’d had teaching fellowships, was a good teacher, revered the profession, but it deserved a passion I definitely did not feel. Another chilling impasse.

Writing my dissertation, I’d begun drawing at night when the brain had stopped Prousting but was still ticking over, and someone suggested that I’d gotten things backwards, because my drawings were good. Naturally, I went to art school, the Parsons School of Design. Those were marvelous years, but I have never pulled as many all-nighters as I did there, because with art, you see at a glance if something works or not, and it doesn’t matter how long you worked, if it doesn’t. But no one will hire you until your portfolio proves that someone else already has.

Now I had four degrees, but no job. I worked renovating houses, painting murals, and as production manager first on an indie movie, then in a small publishing company, where the accountant told me one day that Richard Howard, French translator extraordinaire, had two Roland Barthes books on deck but time for only one, and so, my friend Keith continued, he had volunteered my services. Oh no, I said, I know nothing about translation. Too late, replied Keith, I told him you can write, know French—and studied with Roland Barthes. Trapped. So, why not, I did my greenhorn best with The Grain of the Voice. The publisher called with another book, by a Cambodian girl who’d seen her family murdered by the Khmer Rouge. Adopted out of a Thai refugee camp by two Czech exiles in Paris, she’d spent a year weeping and raving in Khmer, dancing out her story while her adoptive mother tamed her gently, taught her French, and helped her write everything down. Again, I did my best, and have done so ever since, because the books kept coming. And they have taken me around the world, through the best and worst of humanity.

As for Saint Jerome, patron of translators, he keeps a skull for company, and ducking into that cave is how we translate. I pop in earplugs to enter the zone, where you feel at one with the “reeling and writhing” of French and English, words sluicing around among thoughts, on the page, shifting this way? That way? And you always, always, listen to what’s in your head: what does it mean? How does it read?

For example, I saw that my first Echenoz novel, Ravel, was less comic, more serious than the earlier books, with a “real” protagonist, yet still playful, with an elegance suited to the mannered but ultimately tragic figure of Maurice Ravel. And the novel opens . . . in his bathtub! “On s’en veut quelquefois de sortir de son bain.” En vouloir à, a convoluted expression of long history, means to reproach, be angry at, bear a grudge toward, resent, blame; s’en vouloir de doubles down: I regret, I’m irritated/furious/pissed off at myself, could have kicked myself. That’s trouble right there: “One is sometimes angry with oneself for getting out of one’s bath.” Stodge! French relies on “one”; British English finds it useful; American English uses it sparingly. That all-important introductory sentence went through kaleidoscopic changes, because the rest of the paragraph is a precise, slightly disdainful description of fussing over getting out of the tub while avoiding a possibly embarrassing injury, folderol that often required readjusting the whole paragraph to rebalance it. Finally, the first sentence wound up, simply, “Leaving the bathtub is sometimes quite annoying.” That fit the mood, sense, rhythm, and tone of the paragraph, even though the French sentence had three elements of a “self” now absent from the English. Reading later in an interview that Echenoz had had real trouble with his opening sentence, I felt relief, but learning that he’d settled happily on an alexandrine, I quickly checked my English: twelve syllables! Close enough. Sometimes you know more than you think you do.

I can now see how all my wandering was useful, even necessary, for my translations. Voracious reading stocked my mental reference library: I remember—in Technicolor—daring to pull The Brothers Karamazov from a school library shelf for a book report when I was eleven. Madness! But that book and all the others shoved new words and challenging syntax into me as if force-feeding a goose. The years in France provided vital firsthand knowledge of French life as it is lived, saving me from many a pitfall. My approach to translating has always been to make the English text reflect not simply what the French says, but also what it means to French readers. Languages and music helped me with the varied rhythms of an English text. Art school and museums taught me to decipher and compose images, while the study of literature and criticism let me make increasingly complicated sense of what I read, the vital requirement for correctly inflecting a translation in the subtlest ways.

In the end, I achieved my childhood ambition to become a writer, since fidelity in translation isn’t slavish faithfulness to words and syntax, but the result of skilled critical interpretation. Translators have different ways of remaining true to the French originals, and just as painters interpret what they see, so do we each see a French text through our own eyes, and tell readers what we saw, and for our reports to be moving, we mustn’t “copy” the original, but give our words a full-bodied life of their own. That life is our art, a re-creation, from melting down the French in our minds and recasting it in English.

Helped immensely by family and friends, teachers, publishers, editors, authors, and other translators, I finally and gratefully settled into my true vocation.

2. You were in the French-American Foundation (FAF) Translation Prize jury for 17 years and describe the experience as priceless. Why? What have you learned in those 17 years reviewing fiction and non-fiction book samples and helping provide finalists in each category?

The cast of characters on that jury shifts over the years, but a tableful of translators, university professors, and the odd literary figure guarantees passionate discussion and even some melodramatic extravagance. When I once questioned a new juror’s support of a shoddy translation, he proudly announced that he hadn’t checked any French texts, but simply bestowed his “discerning eye” upon some select English samples. Appalled, I asked him, nicely, just why he was on a translation prize jury, whereupon this emeritus professor remembered an urgent appointment and vanished, trailing his scarf. Silence. “Well,” remarked the FAF chairman with a smile, “that was interesting!” He always said sitting in on our jury was the most fun he had all year.

And it was fun, but I also discovered how bad a translation can be, even from a respected publishing house. British publishers seem to have more in-house French expertise, and their quality control is more reliable than ours. That’s the depressing aspect of the jury: slowly (or immediately!) realizing that a translator is overmatched, and sometimes vastly so. Things can become surreal: I remember a sample by the head of an American university French department who had translated classics of French literature, but whose English at times went berserk, to the point of changing farm boys sliding down a haystack into a child locked in a crowded broom closet. Another well-known translator produced a text so insanely muddled that I suspected senile dementia. How had these travesties made it into print? Of course the major problem is not knowing enough French, but more insidious is sloppiness, inattention to the original text, especially if it only seems simply written. Paying insightful attention to details is crucial, so when the translator is an insensitive reader, the English may be grammatically correct, even easily readable, but the full French text has faded, and this holds true for both fiction and non-fiction. Over the years I saw several versions of Alexis de Toqueville’s Democracy in America, and the variations in quality among those texts was remarkable.

I think my major accomplishment on the FAF Jury was eventually persuading them to drop their shocking rule allowing translators on the jury to vote for themselves. And the chief lesson I learned was: how to wheel and deal! It’s literary horse trading. We all arrive at the voting luncheons knowing what we want, but as we wrangle and reflect, titles rise and fall in favor, points are conceded, loyalties swayed, darlings abandoned. A proper prize jury with sixty or seventy bilingual submissions to review (with three samples each in French and English) is a vast amount of work, but the drudgery and disappointments are forgotten in the end, when all vote on the finalists, and the winners emerge. So the Prize Luncheon was always a joy. Serving on that jury was a master class in the good, the bad, and the ugly, but the best submissions were a restorative delight.

3. You say you only translate works you can do justice to and feel a bond with. What book have you felt the greatest bond with and has touched you the most?

There are so many truly special ones! I’ll say Slave Old Man by the Martinican author Patrick Chamoiseau, whose first novel my friend Keith (intervening fatefully again) asked me to review in 1986. Chronique des sept misères was an absolute stunner, but when Carcanet offered to buy it for me, I knew it was too difficult. That hurt. In 1995 André Schiffrin of New Press provided what became Creole Folktales, Chamoiseau’s English debut and my first venture into his world. I was exploring French Caribbean literature, legends, plants, proverbs, history, vaudou, Creole culture in all its forms, amassing books, Xeroxes, glossaries, scribbled notes, prowling tiny NYC libraries, seeking Martinican contacts, especially during visits to the French Caribbean.

My next step was his School Days in 1996, and when my first love returned years later, I was ready: the magical-comical saga of the Chronicle of the Seven Sorrows appeared in 1999. L’Esclave vieil homme et le molosse had come out in 1997 and it was breathtaking, a creation myth of such heart and purity! But it had already been bought over here, so I was crushed. When I later learned from a casual remark that L’Esclave was back in play after almost twenty years (my second second chance at a Chamoiseau treasure!), I pounced. And then the battle began.

The molosser, a huge dog of an ancient breed, became a “mastiff” in English and vanished altogether from the title due to sales rep feedback, but in all else, New Press supported me magnificently in my translation, which was daunting. A few books have driven me to nervous exhaustion, deep despair, and this one did. A simple tale: pursued by the ferocious dog and its master, a mute slave bolts from a long-ago Martinican plantation into an ancient rain forest, where this ordeal will transform them all in extraordinary ways, for they enter an overwhelming physical reality, a wild, lush jungle of life and decay into which the reader plunges as well, as the novel’s powerfully intricate language entangles us in an evocation of nature beyond all human control. Space and time meld in this living maze, where, revived in his lost identity and freedom, the old man reclaims his voice, and is whole again.

The book is as dense as some exotic new element, sinister but beautiful and embodied in a language that belongs in a way to itself alone. It bristles with Creole words, phrasings, and plenty of Chamoiseau-speak. French syntax is artfully tweaked until it becomes a kind of pepper pot, that perpetual stew kept going by Caribs and Arawaks who continually tossed whatever they had at hand into the communal caldron. I have had to reshape English in other books, notably in the Rwandan reportage of Jean Hatzfeld, matching the peculiarities of Belgian- and Kinyarwanda-inflected French to individual witnesses, and here I can only say that you must let your mind go, trust your instincts and your homework, and hope they deliver the goods. One of the three Hatzfelds won the Scott Moncrieff, another was a finalist, and I was ecstatic with relief.

Histoire means both “story” and “history” in French, and in Chamoiseau’s story of a slave’s flight into the unknown, he offers a cryptic history of the Caribbean, where plantation owners used their own languages as a weapon of control over their traumatized slaves, who then turned that weapon against the oppressor: plantation storytellers said more in their homemade Creoles than their listening masters could ever understand, taking care, as Chamoiseau says in his Creole Folktales, to speak in a way “that is opaque, devious—its significance broken up into a thousand sibylline fragments.” Which, if you think about it, is a fine definition of poetry. The mystique of the plantation slave Storyteller, sustaining the spirits of his flock with a lifeline to their vanished homelands, is the Creole soul of Chamoiseau’s writing, so willfully opaque, ludic, cruel, the voice of multitudes, a theme that empowers all his fiction and essays.

In this novel are words and references from the history, culture, and natural world of Martinique, as well as both creolized and arcane French, because Chamoiseau is a free-range writer. “My use of French,” he writes to his translators, “is all-encompassing.” French readers are more familiar with this background material than are English-speakers, however, so while the author does not want any Creole dimension of his work spoiled by the reductive ideal of “transparency,” some light must shine on these sibylline fragments for them to signify at all for the Anglophone audience. I tried to make any explanatory material unobtrusive, while moving this text into English with the least possible distortion.

The majority of the Martinican Creole and creolized French words remain intact in the translation, either easily understood in context, or clarified by me with a descriptive word or two, or paired with an English meaning: “djok-strong,” for example. For more complicated words or a short phrase, the English appears immediately next to the italicized original text. Some words, as well as almost all the deeper background references (customs, places, etc.), are marked with an asterisk and explained in my endnotes, all listed by the number of the page on which they appear, in case any readers prefer to check batches of endnotes in advance.

Here is a look at the creolized French in the novel’s opening sentence: “In slavery times in the sugar isles, once there was an old black man, a vieux-nègre, without misbehaves or gros-saut orneriness or showy ways.” In Martinican Creole, neg means both “man” and “people.” It is the default term for any Creole person of color. It also means: a black man, any mixed-blood person, a servant, a friend, and has many compound forms, such as neg-lakanpay, a country fellow, and gran-neg, a pretentious man or uppity youngster. The Creole vié-neg is not necessarily derogatory—vié means “old,” as well as “ugly,” “horrible,” “shoddy,” even “diabolical”but here simply means an “old man, who is black.” Gros-saut looks like “big-jump” in French, but the Creole gwo-so breaks down as follows: gwo means big (among other things), and so can mean a bucket, a hard tumble, a waterfall, and the kicking of a harnessed horse. The expression fè gwo so refers to that last meaning, and its figurative sense is thus “to kick, lash out at, be ornery.” So: the context suggests the interpretation.

Writing with both studied care and fond disrespect for words, Chamoiseau is not only free-range, but free-form. His syntax, lexicon, and punctuation (or lack thereof) can even be technically incorrect in French, but must be respected—in this disrespect—by the English. In this novel, language not only tells the story, it is the story, an enactment of the subversive action it describes, and as the slave old man moves into a disorienting but exhilarating new dimension, Chamoiseau’s parlance does too. As with poetry, the reader makes sense of the text, as an active audience for this storyteller. In the end, as Chamoiseau has said, créolisation is a matter of expressing a vision of the world, and my aim was to make that vision accessible to the English-speaking reader in its moving and mysterious glory. Regarding the prickly counterpoint of sound and sense, and in homage to the orality of the Creole he champions, Chamoiseau sums up his instructions to his translators with triumphant glee: “I sacrifice everything to the music of the words.”

In the service of Chamoiseau’s short tale, I felt like a spider endlessly prowling the Web. Dozens of books were read. Months of research and headaches produced the end notes and afterword essay on the author and his enigmatic mentor, Édouard Glissant. The challenge of translating this novel I could not face again, but living, lively language like this is rare and lovely, and it is irresistible. Any translator who has experienced real discouragement and travail will understand my happiness in saying that the translation went up for four prizes, and won three. I love this book.

4. You say the FAF takes its prize very seriously—and that you may even nominate someone from amongst those you have met over the years. Besides your nomination, why don’t you recommend for us a great (fiction or non-fiction) book you have reviewed or that has already won the FAF?

For non-fiction, here are two superb biographies that won the prize, huge books about two extraordinarily different men who crammed more into their lives than seems humanly possible:

Bonaparte: 1769-1802 by Patrice Gueniffey, translated by Steven Rendall (Harvard University Press)

Jean Cocteau: A Life by Claude Arnaud, translated by Lauren Elkin and Charlotte Mandell (Yale University Press)

And for history, anything translated by Arthur Goldhammer, five times winner of the FAF prize, the only translator I know whose publishers permit his editing (when sorely needed) and whose grateful contemporary authors welcome it.

In fiction, Lydia Davis’s translations of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (Viking/Penguin Group) and Proust’s Swann’s Way (Viking Press) both won the prize. Of course.

5. Now it’s your turn to nominate our next Great Woman in Translation.

I nominate the poet and translator Jody Gladding, a finalist for the 2004 prize in fiction for Jean Giono’s The Serpent of Stars (Archipelago), and who won the prize in 2009, along with the author, translator, teacher, and horticulturist Elizabeth Deshays, for their translation of Pierre Michon’s Small Lives (Archipelago). Both books explore the deep bonds between the human soul and la France profonde, and the juries were unanimous in celebrating the extraordinary match between the French and the translations, so sensitively attuned to the rich yet delicate beauty of the authors’ impassioned voices.

Guest post: Contabilidade para freelancers

Sejam bem-vindos de volta a mais uma publicação convidada!

As coisas por aqui estão conturbadas neste fim de ano; por isso, as publicações estão bagunçadas. Mas aqui estamos nós com a última convidada do ano, a Paulinha Vianna, que criou o aplicativo de gerenciamento de projetos e contabilidade para tradutores, o 2Manager.

Bem-vinda, Paulinha!


Crédito: Austin DistelUnsplash

Quanto custa o seu tempo?

Quanto tempo você gasta na sua rotina de contabilidade? Sendo freelancer, sem uma equipe para fazer isso por você, você já parou para pensar no tempo que gasta para organizar suas finanças?

Atualmente, sempre que me procuram me pedindo alguma dica de finanças e eu começo a perguntar da rotina financeira, sempre recebo as seguintes respostas: eu tenho uma planilha do Excel (que mal preencho) ou faço controle no papel (bloquinho, post-it, desktop). E nunca, nunca mesmo, há planejamento financeiro no curto ou médio prazo. Trocando em miúdos, a pessoa não sabe se pode parcelar um computador novo, por exemplo, pelo simples fato de que não sabe corretamente o que tem para receber (apenas uma ideia aproximada, devido ao volume de trabalho).

Eu não sei vocês, mas essa falta de informação não serve para mim: eu preciso ter controle do meu dinheiro o tempo todo. Quanto, em dinheiro, estou fazendo no momento (mas ainda não cobrei), quanto estou para receber e, por fim, quanto já recebi e devo enviar ao contador para fazer a minha contabilidade. Mas não dá para perder tempo com essas informações, nem para produzi-las e coletá-las. Você, assim como eu, freelancer, sabe que nossa ferramenta mais valiosa é o TEMPO. E se gastamos nosso tempo nos organizando (ainda que de maneira eficaz), não produzimos – e consequentemente – não ganhamos dinheiro.

Recentemente, eu tive uma experiência com o meu programa de gestão financeira que, sinceramente, me valeu tudo o que sempre recomendo para as outras pessoas. Organização, disciplina e atenção ao financeiro, tanto quanto às minhas traduções.

Aconteceu de um cliente entrar em contato me pedindo para rever os valores que ele já tinha pagado, pois ele acreditava que estava me pagando em duplicidade. Claro, qualquer pessoa pode dizer que não é preciso muita disciplina para resolver isso, basta ir no bankline e tirar uma cópia do extrato. Sim e não. Se você faz isso, tem que se lembrar (e eu sou péssima em lembrar qualquer coisa) de quando o cliente te pagou ou então, como disse antes, perderá tempo fazendo essa checagem. E esse foi o grande “pulo do gato”! Eu entrei no meu controle financeiro e tinha exatas duas faturas pagas, uma vencendo e outra para o mês seguinte. Em 30 segundos, eu tinha toda a informação necessária, passei para o meu cliente e o problema estava resolvido. Agora ele sabe qual o valor que me deve e qual já tinha pagado (nenhum em duplicidade).

Ao retornar com a informação em 30 segundos (que, de qualquer outra forma, eu demoraria ao menos 1 hora), eu economizei meu tempo (continuando a me dedicar à tradução do dia), evitei erros (porque a informação ali estava correta) e evitei estresse (tanto para mim quanto para o meu cliente).

E se eu não demorei nada para coletar essas informações, menos ainda eu gasto para produzi-las. Para um controle eficiente, qualquer que seja o método, a disciplina é o único caminho. Então, sempre que chega um novo projeto, eu o lanço na ferramenta assim que recebo o aceite do cliente.

É fator calmante para mim, e para o meu nível de estresse, saber onde o dinheiro está. Assim, nos momentos de desespero, quando acho que estou “indo à falência”, eu abro a ferramenta e vejo todos os dados prontos, todos os valores. Isso me acalma mais que Rivotril. 😀

Por isso é tão importante o controle financeiro, ainda mais quando somos CEO, head de contabilidade, a moça do café e a faxineira da nossa empresa. Não podemos delegar essas tarefas, a não ser para nós mesmos. E numa rotina puxada como sei que a sua é, não dá para perder tempo com gestão ineficiente.

É muito importante, então, que você analise friamente o seu controle financeiro: ele atende a todas as suas necessidades, tanto na gestão de informação quanto na gestão do tempo? Porque se ele não atende a um desses requisitos, agora pode ser o momento ideal para você mudar e fazer diferente em 2020, agregando tempo ao seu dia a dia, para conseguir se dedicar ao que realmente importa: o seu negócio.

Eu, Caroline Alberoni, decidi mudar em 2020 e trocar o Excel por uma ferramenta de gerenciamento de projetos e contabilidade: o 2Manager, da Paulinha Vianna. A ferramenta já está instalada no computador, pronta com todos os meus clientes e informações necessárias para que, a partir de 1º de janeiro de 2020, eu possa começar a usá-la para valer! Bora ser mais controlado e organizado financeiramente comigo em 2020? Assine a minha newsletter e aproveite a oferta especial de fim de ano que enviarei na próxima segunda-feira.

Sobre a autora
WhatsApp Image 2019-12-08 at 20.06.21Paulinha Vianna é a criadora e fundadora do 2Manager – o app do freelancer. Uma ferramenta de gestão financeira personalizada para o seu negócio em que você tem o controle do dinheiro por toda a cadeia produtiva: desde a hora que o projeto chega até a retirada final dos lucros.

Greatest Women in Translation: Ros Schwartz


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Welcome back to our Greatest Women in Translation interview series!

Our nominee today is Ros Schwartz, nominated by Lucinda Byatt.

Welcome, Ros!

Ros Schwartz

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1. You were a consultant on the revised Robert and Collins French-English/English-French Dictionary! That is so cool! I’ve never met anyone who has worked on a dictionary before – and I’m guessing most of my readers haven’t either. So, could you tell us a bit more about this experience?

That was so long ago that I’d forgotten about it! It was in the pre-fax, pre-Internet era. The publishers had assembled a pool of ‘experts’ – I have no idea how they got hold of my name or why they thought I was qualified. Every so often, they’d mail out a list of ‘problem’ terms, by snail mail. We were told to ignore the ones we didn’t know and to provide any information we could on words we did know. I think my most memorable contribution was “front-loading washing machine”.

2. You translated the 2010 edition of The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and your translation was even shortlisted for the Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation, in 2013! Again, so cool! Could you also tell us a bit more about this experience of translating such a world-famous children’s book?

At first, I felt thrilled and honoured, and then I was overcome with awe and trepidation. Knowing that this work is a childhood favourite, frequently described as ‘one of the greatest books of all time’, that readers would be familiar with Katherine Woods’ 1943 translation or Irene Testot-Ferry’s translation in the Wordsworth Classics edition of 1995, I had to decide whether or not to look at the existing translations. I chose not to. I knew that if I did, they would lodge in my mind, and everything I wrote would be either be a reaction against my predecessors’ strategies, or it might seem that they had found the best solution and whatever I did would not measure up. So my first key decision was to treat this as a completely new translation and to ignore what had gone before. A peek at readers’ hostile reviews on Amazon of a third translation by Richard Howard, published in 2000 and which offered a streamlined, modern take, eliminating the quaintness of the 1940s language, set my alarm bells ringing. People retain a fondness for books they loved as children, no matter how weird or wooden the translation.

The next question was register. Did I want to keep the 1940s feel, modernise, or try and find a more neutral, timeless tone? I opted for the last. I decided to avoid using contractions other than in dialogue, so as not to sound too contemporary, and also to use them sparingly as a device to distinguish the author’s narrative voice from speech and from the author’s voice when addressing the reader.

My first step was to read the French text aloud, which helped me decide on my overall approach. What emerged from this reading was that the French sounds deceptively simple. The lightness and seemingly effortless poetry of the language can turn into plodding prose if translated solely for meaning. For example, after the narrator crashes his plane in the desert, he falls asleep on the ground, ‘à mille milles de toute terre habitée’. Translated literally, this becomes ‘a thousand miles from any inhabited land’ – which is a thousand miles from the airiness and alliterative music of the French. So here, as in many other places, my choice was governed by rhythm and poetry rather than literal meaning, and I plumped for ‘miles and miles from any living soul’. Because music is such a crucial aspect of the French text, I invited my then 19-year-old daughter Chloe to work with me. She’s very musical and has an unerring ear for notes that jar. And yes, she’s credited in the book.

The little prince’s signature phrase ‘S’il vous plaîtdessine-moi un mouton’, again so light and airy in French, risked sounding clunky in English: ‘Please… draw me a sheep’. Not something I could imagine coming out of a child’s mouth. The book’s illustrations show not a sheep, but a lamb. Of course. Children talk about little lambs. Mary had a little lamb. Little lamb alliterates. I checked with a French native-speaker colleague who concurred with my gut feeling that the little prince meant a lamb, which is further evidenced by the author’s own illustrations.

Occasionally English offers an opportunity for wordplay in the vein of Saint-Exupéry where the French doesn’t. Describing the businessman, the little prince says ‘ce n’est pas un homme, c’est un champignon!’. The word ‘champignon’ is a little baffling – the phrase  could translate as ‘he’s not a man, he’s a mushroom/toadstool/fungus’. I felt justified in using a word that works both visually and verbally: ‘And all day long, he repeats just like you: “I have serious matters to attend to! Worthwhile matters!” and that makes him puff up with pride. “But he’s not a man, he’s a puffball!”’

Translating The Little Prince was both hugely challenging and hugely rewarding, and I was grateful for the opportunity to revisit a book I’d loved as a child and to gain a far deeper appreciation of Saint-Exupéry’s genius.

3. The first book you translated was a book you had read that you felt you had to translate. In this interview, you say you “had no idea how publishing worked, no ‘strategy’,” and that you learned on the job. What did you “learn on the job” with this first-time, hand-on experience?

I learned how translation rights are sold, and that the first thing a translator needs to do is approach the rights-holder for permission to champion the book. I also discovered how to pitch an idea to potential publishers and that you need to make the business case for them to consider a title. And the experience taught me that it takes a lot of energy, commitment and time to find a publisher ­– in this case five years.

4. In this same interview, you say “Translators have an important role to play in bringing works of interest to publishers’ attention. […] Publishers are too busy to keep up with everything that’s being published all over the world, and we can act as a valuable filter.” Based on your experience, how do you think translators, particularly beginners, can approach publishers with a book translation offer?

By acquainting themselves with the publishing landscape and approaching publishers whose interests are suited to the book in question. And then writing a compelling proposal (identifying the market) and producing a sample translation that really sings. I have written detailed guidelines on pitching which are available here.

5. You translated Translation as Transhumance, by Mireille Gansel. Could you tell us a bit about it?

Traduire comme Transhumer was sent to me by Gansel’s friend, former publisher Nicholas Jacobs, who was determined to see the book translated into English and was seeking a translator to champion it.

I devoured the book in one sitting, experiencing that visceral sensation of falling in love. This short, exquisitely written volume – an intricate blend of memoir, reflections on the act of translation and a celebration of the power, beauty and music of language – had a profound resonance for me, both personally and professionally. Like Mireille Gansel I come from a multilingual Jewish background and have been fascinated with languages from a young age. Like her, I have been a translator for many years. For me, her succinct observations express the essence of what translation should be.

The child of Jewish refugees from Nazi persecution, Gansel grew up in France imbibing Hungarian, Yiddish and the German of Mitteleuropa from her family. As a translator from German into French, Gansel gave voice to East Germany’s persecuted and exiled writers. She tracked down the poet Reiner Kunze and the playwright Bertolt Brecht, knocking at their doors and smuggling their words across the Berlin Wall and into the West.

When America declared war on Vietnam, Gansel wondered what she as a poet and translator could do in the face of Curtis E. LeMay’s declaration that the US would “bomb ’em back to the stone age”. The answer for her was to learn Vietnamese and take herself to war-torn Vietnam to seek out the poets so as to translate their words. For her, translation is a profoundly political engagement, and she commits herself body and soul to every act of translation. There is no boundary between her life and her work.

Translation as Transhumance encapsulates Gansel’s conception of the translator’s role as being akin to that of the shepherds practising the centuries-old Mediterranean tradition of transhumance. The long, slow journey as the shepherds make their way from one village to the next is rich in cultural and linguistic exchanges. Translators too are pastors, open to different cultures, reaching out to the other and transmitting literature across borders.

Gansel’s writing is imbued with her humanity, her humility and her boundless curiosity – an inquisitiveness she displays in person too. When I first met her she showered me with questions, so strong is her impulse to reach out to the other. She has a deep connection to the land and those who work on it, and is equally at home among her shepherd friends, whose way of life she campaigns to preserve, as she is among poets and writers.

There is something about this book that has touched a chord in so many people, creating an entire ecosystem of interest and support, and leading to true friendships between all those involved in its publication.

6. From all the books you have translated so far, what’s your favorite as a reader?

That’s like asking a mother which of her children is her favourite!

7. Now it’s your turn to nominate our next Great Woman in Translation.

Linda Coverdale, translator from French.

Guest post: Diferenças culturais entre Japão e Brasil

Bem-vindos de volta à série de convidados!

Hoje tenho o prazer de receber a queridíssima Anna Ligia Pozzetti, intérprete de japonês.

Bem-vinda, Anna!


Crédito: Alain PhamUnsplash

Bilíngue e bicultural: o tradutor e intérprete completo

Ao assistir a uma peça de Kabuki, tipo de teatro tradicional japonês, um estrangeiro desavisado pode ficar intrigado com os ajudantes de palco, vestidos dos pés à cabeça de preto, que entram em cena para auxiliar a troca de roupa dos atores durante as apresentações. Eles são chamados de Kuroko (黒子), e os dois ideogramas utilizados significam “preto” e “pessoa”. Mas o que essa palavra significaria caso fosse usada em uma reunião de negócios, sem nenhuma relação com qualquer linguagem artística japonesa? Significa alguém que ajuda os outros sem aparecer em público, alguém que dá suporte nos bastidores: um consultor externo, um conselheiro e, também, o tradutor ou intérprete. Expressões como essas estão presentes em todos os idiomas e, muitas vezes, precisamos realizar adaptações para que uma expressão faça sentido em outra cultura.

Um intérprete profissional consegue rapidamente realizar essas adaptações com sucesso, pois não basta ser bilíngue; é também preciso ser bicultural.

Falando nos problemas de comunicação que podem surgir, vamos começar com a questão puramente linguística. No caso do Japão, por exemplo, uma parcela significativamente pequena da população consegue se comunicar bem em inglês. O país tem a pior nota do TOEFL da Ásia, em termos de conversação, e estima-se que não mais de 7% dos japoneses em posição de liderança falam inglês. Por outro lado, para um estrangeiro conseguir dominar o idioma japonês a ponto de transmitir com acurácia a sua intenção é necessário conhecer mais de dois mil ideogramas, para início de conversa.

Mas os percalços na compreensão do conteúdo de uma reunião também acontecem como resultado dos diferentes valores culturais e costumes. Na conversação, apesar de ambos os lados acreditarem que realizar uma boa explicação é o suficiente para o entendimento mútuo, há um grande gap de crenças e comportamentos que são únicos a cada cultura. Por exemplo, um japonês não olhará diretamente nos olhos do seu interlocutor estrangeiro, pois é uma atitude considerada rude em seu país. Já um brasileiro pode ficar bastante incomodado com essa atitude, levantando suspeitas sobre as intenções do japonês com quem está conversando. Por outro lado, um brasileiro não ter todo o apreço com o cartão de visita como os japoneses tem, o que inclui regras de como entregar, receber e guardar, não significa que não há respeito pelo seu interlocutor. Só significa que nós não temos esse mesmo costume, e o cuidado com aquele pedaço de papel significa bem menos para nós do que para eles.

No caso da tradução, um exemplo interessante é o caso do slogan da Nike. No livro Translating Cultures: An Introduction for Translators, Interpreters and Mediators, de David Katan, o autor explica o caso publicado na Business Week, em 25 de abril de 1992. A Nike estabeleceu o seu slogan “Just Do It” em 1988. A ideia original não era traduzir o slogan, pois o objetivo do CEO era enfatizar que a marca é americana, algo que, na época, era considerado um grande atrativo. Além disso, vários idiomas não tinham uma estrutura semântica com três palavras que expressasse essa ideia. Yukihiro Akimoto, que se tornaria o CEO da Nike Japan, foi para os Estados Unidos para passar quatro meses imerso na cultura empresarial da Nike. No entanto, após esse período, a sua proposta para a tradução seria “Hesitar é perder tempo” (Hesitation makes waste/躊躇するな). O time da Nike ficou horrorizado, e a proposta foi refutada imediatamente. Segundo a revista, a dificuldade em encontrar uma tradução equivalente ao “Just Do It” encontrou, no Japonês, não só a barreira semântica, mas também cultural. No Japão, “feito não é melhor que perfeito”, e existem diversas etapas de planejamento e organização antes da etapa de concretização de um projeto. Um famoso provérbio japonês diz que é preciso permanecer sentado por três anos na pedra para aquecê-la. É preciso tempo. O slogan continua em inglês até hoje, pois seria impossível fazer adaptações culturais para cada país.

Nesse sentido, ao iniciarmos uma tradução ou interpretação, não basta termos o domínio do idioma, pois isso não nos fará um bom kuroko, que estará fazendo todo o trabalho nos bastidores da adaptação cultural. O sucesso é atingido quando o leitor não sente uma falta de naturalidade no texto ou quando o participante de uma conferência ou reunião não se sente incomodado em ouvir a voz de outra pessoa. E para sermos ao máximo invisíveis, precisamos transmitir uma ideia falada, dentro de um contexto cultural, de forma que faça sentido no idioma de alguém que advém de outra cultura. Transmitindo a ideia correta, sem alterar o seu sentido, é claro. Ou seja, além de ter um excelente domínio de ambos os idiomas, o tradutor/intérprete é um importante comunicador intercultural e vai muito além do trabalho da tradução automática, que simplesmente substitui as palavras. Ele vai além das palavras e auxilia a minimizar o gap de comunicação que surge por questões culturais.

Sobre a autora


Fotógrafa: Lívia Conti

Anna Ligia Pozzetti é formada em Ciências Econômicas pela Unicamp e mestre em história econômica pela mesma Universidade, onde teve a oportunidade de estudar economia e ciência politica por um ano na School of Political Science and Economics da Universidade de Waseda, em Tóquio. Com mais de 7 anos de experiência como tradutora e intérprete de japonês, sendo certificada pelo Center for Interpretation and Translation Studies da Universidade do Havaí onde cursou o Summer Intensive Interpreter Training Program em 2019. A sua conexão com o idioma e a cultura japonesa é decorrente dos 6 anos em que viveu no Japão ao longo da infância, onde adquiriu a fluência no idioma e incorporou a cultura em suas raízes.


Greatest Women in Translation: Lucinda Byatt


Created by Érick Tonin

Welcome back to the Greatest Women in Translation interview series!

Please welcome this month’s interviewee, Lucinda Byatt, non-fiction translator from Italian into English, nominated by Marilyn Booth.

Lucinda Byatt

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1. You were a speaker at this year’s ITI Conference. I was there too! Too bad I missed a chance of meeting you! The topic of your presentation was “What’s involved in translating non-fiction? Rewards and Challenges.” Could you tell us a bit about it?

I’m sorry we didn’t catch up there, too! But thanks so much, both to you and above all Marilyn, for inviting me to be a guest on your blog. The theme of this year’s ITI Conference in Sheffield, UK, was “Beyond the Core: Forging the Future of the Profession” and this was the context of my talk on non-fiction translation. In fact, this is a huge field, ranging from academic works in every discipline to the popular non-fiction markets. Broadly speaking, I focused on three topics: Building up expertise and finding opportunities; Tackling the translation (skills, research); Looking at collaborative translation and working with editors.

I’m very conscious that I can only speak from my own experience – every translator follows a different path and accumulates different skills, of course! But in general, a non-fiction translator tends to be a specialist – at least, that certainly helps, even in a broad field, like my own, which is history, history of art and architectural history. So the somewhat obvious advice in the first part was to follow your interests and to find areas that you are passionate about, and maybe also qualified in – since this is an added incentive to develop your knowledge and gradually build a network of contacts.

The second part of my presentation tried to give some answers to the broad question of what, if any, are the special skills of the non-fiction translator? I think there may be an assumption that translating non-fiction is harder and more complicated than translating fiction. For example, do you need to invest more time in research and fact checking? Or in finding and checking quotations, and deciding whether to use a published translation if one already exists?

I suggested that translating non-fiction need not be harder, and indeed – in some respects – it might actually be easier than translating fiction. For example, a non-fiction author is less likely to be as experimental in style as a novelist, because she or he is focused above all on the argument and the factual content of the book.

Most of the skills required for non-fiction translation are the same as for fiction. There may be no dialogue to deal with in non-fiction, and there’s unlikely to be much colloquial language. But rhythm, word choice and the construction of sentences and paragraphs are just as important in non-fiction writing – particularly in the growing ‘umbrella genre’ of literary non-fiction – as they are in novels. A non-fiction book certainly has a flow, a carefully constructed sequence of chapters, and it often features evocative settings and vivid characterisation.

2. You are one of the very few interviewees in this series who does not work with fiction. You translate books, but primarily focused on history, architecture, art history, and humanities in general. I confess I’m quite happy to feature a non-fiction translator for a change, since, in my humble opinion, we, “technical” translators, do not get as recognized as fiction translators do. Do you feel the same way?

There’s no doubt that compared to fiction, translated nonfiction doesn’t get much of the limelight, and certainly fewer prizes. Yet translated non-fiction will never not be relevant and its benefits are even more trenchant today. English-language publishers have certainly discovered there’s a market for engaging, even challenging, non-fiction books emerging from Europe and beyond. I know I’m not alone in being more aware than ever of how important it is to bolster an open society, and one way of doing that is to offer readers books that deepen their understanding of other cultures and enable them to join in the debates that excite, or aggravate, us all.

And it’s not only published non-fiction that we should consider. Journalism and blogs are also important – non-fiction writing comes in many forms.

I’m intrigued that you use the term “technical” translator. We are all technicians in some respect. As I said before, a non-fiction translation needs the same feel for register, rhythm, tone, voice, flow, etc. as for fiction. These skills form the crux of our ‘techne’, but perhaps the difference is that in non-fiction the approach is usually more subject-specific.

3. Talking about history, you also teach non-translation courses at the University of Edinburgh, such as Italian Renaissance. What came first: the translator or the teacher? And how did you venture into translation?

That’s an interesting question. I did languages all the way through formal education – and had an inspirational French teacher who worked on translation with us in secondary school. Then at university, I did French and German for two years, before eventually focusing on medieval and modern history. Even the next step – a doctorate at the European University Institute – was effectively a blend of languages and history as all my primary sources were in Italian. Learning Italian from scratch was quite a steep learning curve! During the four years I spent in Italy for my doctorate, I worked on various small translation projects and enjoyed them. Moreover, as a Ph.D. student you are also asked to give presentations. So I think I can honestly say that translation and teaching have developed side by side.

However, there have been times when translation has certainly been uppermost. While I was living in Turin – in the Nineties – and for the first six or so years back in Edinburgh – in the Noughties – I was solely a translator. My first published translation was for Polity, and the next few books were for a Swiss publisher, Birkhäuser, and for Cambridge University Press. Sometimes these opportunities arose because I met the editors at book events in Turin and perhaps editing work then led to translation; or occasionally they were the result of a direct approach.

I also worked extensively as a commercial translator during the years we lived in Turin, translating what I think could be called “general” documents for companies and institutions. This general practice allowed me to hone my skills, also in terms of business practice. One of my earliest contacts in Turin was Alan Nixon, whose company Dialogue International is still flourishing. Much of the work he gave me was for Fiat which was then still a big presence in Turin. The technical automotive stuff was beyond me, but I worked on corporate documents and the occasional presentation for the top management. While I was in Turin, I also embarked on a broad range of translation projects for cultural institutions in the city and elsewhere. I loved the variety and again it was valuable experience as I worked for museums and tourist organisations, on cultural policy documents and (from Edinburgh!) even on the 2006 Winter Olympics. In the 1990s technology was in its infancy: I had a pc and email, but no broadband. Work had to be delivered electronically over a modem connection (who remembers its distinctive buzz?) or in hard copy by “Pony Express” (bike couriers). I still work with a few of my Turin clients – one private company holds the record, with a relationship that dates back nearly thirty years!

4. Although you mainly translate non-fiction, your latest book, Murder in Venice, by Maria Luisa Minarelli, is a fiction one. And you also said it’s quite different from the previous two (academic books). How was your experience in translating this fiction book for a change?

I really enjoyed it. The publisher is AmazonCrossing and the offer came out of the blue, but the contract was straightforward and the terms were good. I have to add here that I have always found it very hard to retain copyright for my non-fiction translations. In this case, AmazonCrossing were immediately clear that this was not an issue, although of course it is licensed back to them. Moreover, the contract includes royalties, including on free promotional copies, something that has never been the case in my non-fiction contracts for other publishers. All of my contracts are vetted by the UK Society of Authors, which is a real bonus of membership, and immensely reassuring. However, even with their support, securing copyright and royalties for my translations can still be an uphill struggle.

As is clear from the title, Murder in Venice, Maria Luisa Minarelli’s book is a historical mystery. It’s set in eighteenth-century Venice, so that itself appealed to me. I know Venice well and teach a ten-week course on medieval and early modern Venice. The author’s historical research is excellent and the characters and setting are convincingly portrayed. There were some lovely coincidences too. Just last year, I translated a life of Leonardo da Vinci by Antonio Forcellino, and here – as a key part of Minarelli’s plot – I came across the canal dredger designed by Leonardo, probably while he was living in Milan. Another particularly enjoyable aspect of my foray in fiction was the sense of freedom in the translation process (no footnotes!). Above all, translating the different voices in dialogue was a treat. I’m secretly hoping to do more!

5. These previous academic books you translated were about suicide and lordship in medieval Southern Italy – and then a fiction book. How do you manage to work with such diverse topics? Do you have any established work process?

The non-fiction books I have translated often have varying degrees of connection with my specialized academic field. But the variety is enormously stimulating. It means discovering and researching new topics. Regular contact with the author is an enormous benefit, and given the immediacy of communication now, I think all translators would agree that this is a crucial part of the translation process. For me, it’s often a starting point. If I can talk to the author, by phone or Skype, I find I have a better understanding of the register and pace of the “non-fiction voice” on paper. I also rely on the authors for their specialised knowledge.

My work on Marzio Barbagli’s book, Farewell to the World: A History of Suicide, offered different challenges. It is a masterpiece of sociological and historical analysis. I won’t go into the arguments here – also because it’s certainly not my place to do so! – but I will say that the subject-matter was gruelling at times. In practical terms, a major problem that arose during the translation was the referencing. Many of the reference works had been translated, perhaps from German or French originals into Italian and obviously the footnotes gave pages numbers from the Italian editions. Instead, I had to trace the English translations, where they existed, and then play the “page number” game (different language editions often don’t have the same pagination) as I searched through the books for the correct passages. I’m sure others will know what I’m talking about. It can be a frustratingly slow process, but in the end it’s worthwhile.

The translation of Sandro Carocci’s book on lordship in medieval Southern Italy was a great example of collaboration. Probably the most useful result of working closely with an author is that you can fine tune the message. And, above all for a work of non-fiction, the message is key. Of course, language matters too: and in this case, Sandro’s advice regarding the correct feudal terminology was invaluable.

A similar project was the co-translation with Michael Bury of a sixteenth-century art history treatise by Giovanni Andrea Gilio, “Dialogue on the Errors and Abuses of Painters”. Working together with Carol Richardson, this was in every sense a team project. I was the only “professional” translator, but Michael Bury’s thorough understanding of the text meant that his contribution to the translation was fundamental. Some of the challenges of tackling a historical text, like Gilio’s, are outlined in my chapter on the translation process, which is included in the volume (Getty Publications, 2018).

On that note, I’ve recently also worked on a variety of other historical texts in the context of major exhibitions. These have included extracts from the letters between Emma Hamilton and Queen Maria Carolina of Naples and Sicily, and also a few letters written by Artemisia Gentileschi. Decisions about language need to be made and my preference is to steer a middle course that tries to avoid unnecessarily archaic vocabulary but also glaring anachronisms. Clarity for the modern reader seems to me to be paramount.

6. You are currently translating a short book for Antonio Foscari, Living with Palladio. What can you tell us about it?

I’ve worked with Antonio Foscari on three previous projects, two of which have also focused on Villa Foscari, an elegant building on the mainland close to Venice, which was designed by the great sixteenth-century architect Antonio Palladio. This is a shorter book and will appeal to a broader audience since the author goes through the villa’s rooms and describes how they would have been used in the late sixteenth century. There are fascinating details about the layout of the villa and the upstairs/downstairs division. For example, the top floor of the villa was used to store grain and other produce because it was dry and also well guarded. Thieves were rare, even the four-legged variety: the smooth bands of plaster applied to the walls made it easier to trap any pesky rodents by preventing them from scrambling up the walls and into the roof space. I really look forward to seeing it in print.

7. Now it’s your turn to nominate our next Great Woman in Translation.

It’s a real pleasure to nominate Ros Schwartz. Ros is a hugely talented and award-winning translator and an inspiring mentor. She is currently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Kings College London and also a director of Warwick Translates Summer School. When I contacted her about this blog she was on her way back from Cameroon where she’d been to lead a literary translation workshop.

Guest post: O que é esse tal de mindfulness?

Seja bem-vindo (de volta) à nossa série de publicações convidadas!

Hoje, depois de voltar de uma aula matinal de yoga, tenho o prazer de receber Amanda Ribeiro, intérprete, que falará sobre atenção plena (mindfulness).

Bem-vinda, Amanda!


Crédito: Lesly JuarezUnsplash

Mindfulness: como manter a cabeça no lugar

Sempre que eu ouvia falar sobre os benefícios da meditação, eu já me adiantava e dizia que não era para mim. Afinal, moro num apartamento que fica em uma avenida movimentada de São Paulo, não tenho como me sentar diariamente em posição de lótus para ver o nascer do sol do topo de uma montanha, muito menos como desfrutar de silêncio absoluto. Além disso, minha cabeça é como o YouTube: é só propor um assunto e ela já deixa engatilhada uma lista infinita de sugestões relacionadas – ou nem tão relacionadas assim. Por essa e outras, “pensar em nada” estava fora de cogitação.

Somado a isso, vivemos na era da informação, da hiperconectividade, das mudanças rápidas, de volumes inimagináveis de dados, notícias, atualizações, livros, audiolivros, podcasts, revistas, séries, filmes e aplicativos que medem tudo nessa vida, com apenas um clique.

Todo esse volume de informação e de possibilidades, combinado à minha mente naturalmente inquieta de intérprete e personalidade que não acredita que exista cultura inútil, começou a pesar e a me sobrecarregar. Não demorei a sentir os sintomas de ansiedade, dificuldade para dormir e angústia por sentir que estava sempre devendo, sempre às voltas com tanto conteúdo pra consumir e tarefas por cumprir.

Para tentar “dar conta de tudo”, eu me treinei para ser multitarefa. Escovava os dentes ao mesmo tempo em que abria as janelas da casa, sempre comia escutando podcasts ou lendo as notícias, e com isso, jurava que estava otimizando meu tempo. Não estava. E foi então que percebi que quase tudo que eu fazia na vida era no piloto automático.

Olha, não estou aqui pra vilanizar o piloto automático, não. Não sobreviveríamos se tivéssemos que focar 100% em todas as nossas atividades. É uma questão de sobrevivência. Mas deixar que esse seja o padrão que dita o ritmo da nossa vida e endeusar a capacidade de fazer várias coisas ao mesmo tempo também não é o caminho.

Para dar uma ideia do meu estado mental, por falta de atenção no momento presente, tranquei meu marido dentro de casa e levei as chaves, minhas e dele, para o trabalho – duas vezes. Já desliguei o disjuntor de energia da cozinha ao sair para viajar (estragou tudinho que estava no freezer e na geladeira, e o cheiro, depois de 15 dias, ainda era de cena de crime, mesmo depois de uma amiga muito ponta firme ter dado uma faxinada antes da minha volta pra casa). Mais de uma vez me dei conta de que esqueci a fonte do notebook dentro da cabine de interpretação quando já estava no ponto de ônibus, e levanta a mão aqui quem já resgatou meias da lata de lixo o/ – que obviamente deveriam ter sido colocadas no cesto de roupa suja. Nada grave, eu sei, apesar de inconveniente. Mas, em casos extremos, a falta de atenção pode até ser fatal. Não é à toa que surgiu a necessidade de criar uma lei e colocar a plaquinha “Antes de entrar, verifique se o elevador está parado neste andar”.

O meu trabalho de intérprete já exige, por natureza, que eu divida a minha atenção entre esforços distintos e simultâneos. Segundo a Teoria do Modelo dos Esforços, de Daniel Gile, o intérprete precisa ouvir e analisar, produzir o discurso no idioma de chegada e armazenar informação na memória de curto prazo. Tudo ao mesmo tempo e o tempo todo. Como meu trabalho requer toda essa concentração e atenção, eu sabia que precisava fortalecer essa capacidade não natural e dar uma trégua para o meu cérebro nos momentos em que sou só pessoa física.

Sabia que algo precisava mudar em mim e foi com a certeza de que seria um grande desafio reaprender a fazer as tarefas do dia a dia com mais atenção que cheguei ao treinamento de oito semanas de mindfulness.

Era preciso aprender a desacelerar, a respirar, a escolher fazer uma coisa de cada vez.

“Mindfulness é um lugar para respirar no turbilhão da vida”, segundo a definição da instrutora Regina Giannetti, do programa Você mais Centrado. “É um estado mental em que você respira, permite que sua mente se estabilize e proporcione clareza de pensamentos.”

De maneira bem direta e simples, para praticar mindfulness você não precisa de uma vista privilegiada ou de um ambiente zen. Você pode estar presente e com atenção plena assim, exatamente do jeitinho que você está agora. Não importa se tem um avião sobrevoando sua casa ou uma sirene de ambulância disparada. Se decidir baixar a poeira dos pensamentos, sente-se de maneira confortável (de preferência sem se deitar para não cair na armadilha do relaxamento total e na sonolência), deixe os pés bem apoiados no chão, feche os olhos e preste atenção apenas na sua respiração, na maneira como seu peito se move quando inspira e expira, na temperatura do ar, na quantidade de ar entrando e saindo dos pulmões até que o temporizador avise que você chegou ao final da prática. É fácil? Não, não é. No começo, 5 minutos dessa prática parecem uma eternidade. Tudo o que você pensa é: “Será que falta muito ainda?” Sua cabeça implora para que você desista, te provoca com pensamentos de “não consigo”, “já cansei”, “vou parar antes, só desta vez”. Mas se você persistir e deixar ir esses pensamentos, a prática vai ficando mais confortável, você consegue ir aumentando o tempo e colhendo os benefícios de uma mente mais tranquila.

Uma alternativa de exercício é concentrar-se apenas nas percepções, e não na respiração. Trata-se de uma varredura de cada pedacinho do seu corpo. A sensação do seu pé direito dentro do calçado que está usando agora, os pontos em que seu corpo toca o assento e o encosto da cadeira, a textura da sua roupa encostando na pele, a existência de tensão em alguma parte específica do corpo. É maluco perceber que essas coisas estavam aí o tempo todo e não damos a elas a mínima atenção. Ao ter mais autoconsciência, passamos a notar essas partes esquecidas do corpo, e ao exercitar estar mais presente, passamos a nos conhecer melhor e a entender que, muitas vezes, o que estávamos sentindo não era fome, mas sim sede, que está irritado porque uma peça de roupa está desconfortável ou, ainda, aprende a apreciar, de maneira totalmente nova, o sabor de alimentos comuns do seu dia a dia.

O exercício diário fortalece nossa mente. Sem nos darmos conta, lembramos de respirar melhor em momentos de stress, aprendemos a nos acalmar quando estamos diante de decisões difíceis, a priorizar nossas demandas com clareza.

Hoje em dia, existem muitos aplicativos, como Headspace, Lojong, Meditação Natura e Gentle Birth (para gestantes), que oferecem práticas guiadas. Todos eles dispõem de versões gratuitas e pagas, e vale a pena baixar pelo menos um e começar a usar ainda hoje!

Olha, se você achou tudo incrível, mas decidiu começar na segunda-feira ou prefere esperar ter tempo para praticar o mindfulness, já adianto que isso não vai acontecer. É preciso criar esse tempo. Que sejam 4, 5 minutos por dia, todos os dias. Nem preciso dizer que mesmo quando alegamos não termos tempo algum, “nos perdemos” por muito mais do que esses minutinhos no abismo das redes sociais e nas armadilhas da internet.

Não pode fazer a prática formal? Experimente a prática informal. Escolha alguma tarefa do dia para fazer com atenção plena. Desta vez, você não focará na respiração ou no corpo, mas na execução de uma tarefa específica. Se for escovar os dentes, por exemplo, faça como se fosse a primeira vez na vida que realiza essa atividade. Preste atenção na cor da pasta, no cheiro, na aparência, no formato da escova, no material de que é feita. Veja a quantidade de pasta que coloca, o sabor, a textura, a temperatura dela. Atente-se aos movimentos da escovação, como a escova toca os dentes, a gengiva, a quantidade de espuma que forma. Sei que parece papo de doido, mas garanto que será uma experiência rica perceber os pequenos prazeres escondidos em um dia comum, como vestir uma roupa limpinha perfumada de amaciante ou apreciar a sensação do sol leve da manhã iluminando e aquecendo seu rosto.

Resumindo, pratique, persista e se aceite. Deixe ir os pensamentos. Quando os pensamentos surgirem, em vez de se apegar e dar muita importância para eles, perceba que eles sugiram e volte sua atenção para a sua respiração ou para onde decidiu ancorar a concentração. Não se julgue e tenha paciência contigo. É da natureza humana ter pensamentos, expectativas, impaciência, sentimentos de evitação. Quando surgirem esses pensamentos, seja gentil com você mesmo, reconheça a existência deles, volte a atenção pra sua respiração e sustente o máximo que puder, sem julgamento.

Por fim, como apoio pra todo o sempre, sugiro que acompanhe o podcast Autoconsciente. Trata-se de um canal criado por uma especialista e instrutora de mindfulness que traz conteúdo para você entender melhor sua mente e emoções e viver em paz contigo mesmo.

Seja bem-vindo! Que você esteja bem.

Sobre a autora
AmandaRibeiro_047Amanda Ribeiro é formada em Interpretação de Conferências pela PUC-SP e conta com Bacharelado em Tradução e Interpretação pela Universidade São Judas Tadeu e pós-graduação em Tradução pela Universidade Gama Filho.
Começou sua carreira atuando como tradutora, quando teve a oportunidade de traduzir textos de diferentes segmentos. Trabalha com interpretação desde 2016 e já atuou em configurações de reuniões, auditorias, pesquisas de mercado, treinamentos e congressos nas modalidades de interpretação simultânea, consecutiva e acompanhamento. Além das modalidades tradicionais, Amanda tem experiência em interpretação simultânea remota (RSI) por meio de plataformas virtuais. Além de intérprete, é locutora comercial e narradora de audiodescrição. É apaixonada por sua profissão, ama a comunicação e está constantemente em busca de melhoria e aprimoramento pessoal e profissional.