Yiddish Book Center Translation Fellowship: FAQ

What level of Yiddish is required for the Fellowship?
Prospective candidates should possess at least a high intermediate command of Yiddish before applying to this program and should be able to read Yiddish literary texts in the original. While Fellows may explore the nuances of Yiddish language, literature, and stylistics through their translation projects, no formal language instruction is provided. Rather, the program emphasizes the learning and development of skills and techniques related to creative writing and the art of literary translation.

What sort of project should I propose for this fellowship?
Prospective Fellows should select a book-length work to translate with which they are deeply familiar and in which they have a passionate interest. Works can be from any literary genre, including prose, poetry, and drama. In a limited number of cases, other kinds of works of historical or cultural interest may also be considered if they are of significant literary merit. While it is not the only criterion, applicants should consider and be prepared to explain the potential audience, literary or scholarly value of the work, and possibilities for publication for their translation. The potential to publish the project is especially important for those applying to the Senior Fellow track. We encourage applicants to research potential projects thoroughly and are happy to offer feedback in advance of the application deadline. 

I don’t have a graduate degree. Am I still eligible to apply?
Yes. While many (but not all) of our Fellows have been graduate students or PhDs in Yiddish or related fields, we strongly encourage applicants from any background, age group, or profession as long as they meet the basic eligibility requirements. Fellows are selected based on the strength of their applications and their promise and talent in literary translation. You can find the full application here.

I was not selected for a Fellowship in a previous year. May I apply again?
Yes. Due to the highly competitive nature of the program and the large number of applications we receive, we are unfortunately unable to accept every qualified candidate in a given year. We thus strongly encourage past candidates to reapply. Re-applicants require one new recommendation letter when submitting a new application.

I participated in the Fellowship in a previous year. Am I allowed to apply again?
Yes, you are invited to apply for the Senior Fellow track if you have previously participated in the Translation Fellowship.

I would like to apply for a Fellowship together with another translator. Is this possible?
We welcome applications from pairs of translators who would like to work on a fellowship project together. Please contact us directly for revised application requirements in this case.

I keep Shabbos. Will I be able to participate in the Workshops-in-Residence at the Center?
Yes, the two-day Workshops-in-Residence at the Center are held on three Sunday-Mondays over the course of the fellowship year. Kosher food is also provided for all meals at the Center.

Am I responsible for finding my own accommodations for the weekend?
The Center will reserve a block of rooms at a local hotel in the area, and will provide transportation from the hotel to the Center. Participants are responsible for booking their own transportation to the Pioneer Valley, but all costs will be reimbursed by the Center. If you need directions, you can find them on our page here.

What is the schedule for the fellowship year?
The application season for the 2020 Translation Fellowship Program will begin in early September of 2019. The deadline to submit applications is October 30th. Fellows will be notified in December. The program officially begins with the first Workshop-in-Residence in March 2020, but some work will need to be done in preparation for this first workshop. The three Workshops-in-Residence occur at regular intervals in the spring, summer, and winter of the fellowship year. This year they are scheduled for March 15-16, June 28-29, and November 1-2. In between workshops, Fellows will be expected to meet (usually remotely) with their mentors and their peer partner. Final manuscripts will be due in March 2021.

I am translating to/from a language that is neither Yiddish nor English. Or, I am translating from English into Yiddish. Am I eligible for this program?
At present, the program only supports translators working from Yiddish into English.

What is the stipend and research fund offered?
Emerging Translators receive a stipend of $4,500, and Senior Fellows receive a stipend of $5,500. The stipend is paid in four installments, after each workshop and upon final submission of a manuscript and completion of all fellowship components. All Fellows are offered a $1,000 research fund to use in support of their work. Research fund use must be approved by the program director. Additionally, Fellows receive meals and lodging for the workshops, as well as a travel reimbursement to attend. Co-translators applying together will share one stipend and research fund.