The Desert Nights, Rising Stars
Writers Conference

Conference Schedule 2020

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

In Translation: The Craft of Crossing Languages with Ryka Aoki, Alberto Álvaro Ríos, Laura Tohe, Ryan Greene, Claudia Nuñez de Ibieta

Date(s): Saturday, February 22, 2020, 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
Carson Ballroom, Old Main (view map)
Genre and Form(s): Translation, World Literature
Tags: Politics, Culture

About the Session

What is lost and what is gained in translating creative work on the page? How do we keep the spirit of the original written work even as the words change and the nuance is sometimes lost between cultures? Authors and translators Alberto Ríos, Laura Tohe, and Ryka Aoki speak to the intricacies of working with multiple languages as a translative art form.

Meet the Presenter(s)

Photograph of Ryka Aoki

Ryka Aoki is the author of Seasonal Velocities, He Mele a Hilo and Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul. She has appeared in Vogue, Elle, Publisher’s Weekly, and the Huffington Post, and was honored by the California State Senate for “extraordinary commitment to the visibility and wellbeing of Transgender people.” She worked with the American Association of Hiroshima Nagasaki A-Bomb Survivors, and two of her compositions were adopted as the organization’s official “songs of peace.” Aoki is also a former national judo champion and the founder of the International Transgender Martial Arts Alliance. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University and is professor of English at Santa Monica College.

Piper Center Artistic Director Alberto Álvaro Ríos

Alberto Álvaro Ríos, born in 1952 in Nogales, Arizona, is the author of eleven books and chapbooks of poetry, three collections of short stories, and a memoir.  His books of poems include The Dangerous Shirt, The Theater of Night, winner of the 2007 PEN/Beyond Margins Award, along with The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body, a finalist for the National Book Award, Teodoro Luna’s Two Kisses, The Lime Orchard Woman, The Warrington Poems, Five Indiscretions, and Whispering to Fool the Wind, winner of the Walt Whitman Award.  His three collections of short stories are, most recently, The Curtain of Trees, along with Pig Cookies and The Iguana Killer.  His memoir about growing up on the Mexico-Arizona border—called Capirotada—won the Latino Literary Hall of Fame Award and was recently chosen as the OneBookArizona selection.

Ríos is host of the Eight, Arizona PBS ground-breaking original production Books & Co., now in its 22nd year on-air, where he provides viewers exclusive access to renowned authors and fresh faces on the literary scene, in intimate conversations with writers offering an unparalleled exploration into the heart and creative process of contemporary literature.

Recently honored with the University of Arizona Outstanding Alumnus Award, Ríos is the recipient of the Western Literature Association Distinguished Achievement Award, the Arizona Governor’s Arts Award, fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Walt Whitman Award, the Western States Book Award for Fiction, six Pushcart Prizes in both poetry and fiction, and inclusion in The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, as well as over 300 other national and international literary anthologies.  His work is regularly taught and translated, and has been adapted to dance and both classical and popular music. 

Ríos is a Regents’ Professor at Arizona State University, where he has taught for over 35 years and where he holds the further distinctions of the Katharine C. Turner Endowed Chair in English and University Professor of Letters. He is Arizona’s inaugural poet laureate and is currently a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Photograph of Laura Tohe

Laura Tohe is Diné of the Sleepy Rock People clan and is the current Navajo Nation Poet Laureate for 2017-2019. A librettist and an award-winning poet, her books include No Parole Today, Making Friends with Water, Sister Nations, Tséyi, Deep in the Rock, and Code Talker Stories.  Her commissioned librettos are Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio, for the Phoenix Symphony on the Naxos Classical Music label and Nahasdzáán in the Glittering World for Opera de Rouen made its world premiere in 2019 in France.  She writes essays, stories, and a children’s play that have appeared in the U.S., Canada, and Europe with French, Dutch and Italian translations.  She is the recipient of the 2019 American Indian Festival of Writers’s Award, Joy Harjo & the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund Award, the Dan Schilling Public Scholar Award and was twice nominated for the Pushcart Award.

Photograph of Ryan Greene

Ryan Greene is a translator, poet, and bookmaker from Phoenix, Arizona. He has translated work by Claudina Domingo, Ana Belén López, and Giancarlo Huapaya, and his translations have found a home in places like AsymptoteHayden’s Ferry Review, and Angel City Review. His translations of selected poems by Ana Belén López appear in the bilingual chapbook, rojo si pudiera ser rojo // red if it could be red (Anomalous Press, 2019). He currently facilitates the Cardboard House Press Cartonera Collective bookmaking workshops at Palabras Bilingual Bookstore in Phoenix, Arizona.  

Photograph of Claudia Nuñez de Ibieta

Claudia Nuñez de Ibieta translates, interprets, and occasionally still teaches Spanish and English, in Tempe, Arizona. A student of history (B.A. ASU), translation of historiography is a favorite, with published translations for the Academy of American Franciscan History. Also a bookseller at her local independent bookstore in Tempe for over 10 years and founding member of the bookstore’s fifteen-year-old Spanish language literary bookgroup, “ La Tertulia” , Claudia very much enjoys reading in both languages, as well as making bilingual books of poetry with Phoenix’s Cartonera Collective since 2018. This has led to developing her own project of poetic translation, with aspirations to publish, and to small incursions in sharing her writing, with pieces in inaugural issues of City of Tempe’s Orbit Playlist, little something’s press, and Palabrona Zine, vol.1.