I spent a month as a SPECTRESS scholar in Sao Paulo between June 25th and July 25th 2015. My time at USP which was my host institution was devoted more to my own work than to collaboration and interaction with colleagues and students. The period of my stay coincided with Brazilian winter break, so there were not many people around. Still I had a couple of very valuable meetings in Sao Paulo.
My mentor was prof. Laura Izarra and we had a long and interesting conversation on the related fields of our research and translation project we both undertake. Professor Izarra together with a team of collaborators and students translated into Portuguese and edited the journals of Roger Casement, which was of great interest to me as a translator of Joseph Conrad’s prose (my translation of Heart of Darkness into Polish was published in 2013).
I also met Prof. John Milton whose work is in Translation Studies, the area of my own research. Another interesting meeting was with Silvia Cobelo, also a TS scholar. But definitely the most valuable contact in Sao Paulo was Eda Nagayama, who took the role of my “guardian angel” and helped me with so many various aspect of my residency: from mundane practicalities of everyday life to introducing me to fascinating multicultural life of Sao Paulo. I am very grateful to her for her generosity: the time she offered me, all the wonderful conversations and the fun we had together. I am very glad to be able to return her friendship at least partly during her secondment in Kraków in 2016.
Thanks to the SPECTRESS scholarship I was also able to take part in the world congress of IATIS (International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies) which took place at the University of Belo Horizonte and coincided with my stay in Sao Paulo. This was undoubtedly a very fruitful part of my residency, not only in terms of academic discussions but also as far as networking goes.
My presentation at the congress was devoted to Czesław Miłosz as self-translator in the context of intercultural mediation. Miłosz’s practice as a translator of Polish poetry into English, which played an influential role on the literary plane as it created the phenomenon known as “the Polish school of poetry”, was an effect of his forced emigration to the US where he actually spent more than half of his long life. Basing also on my research at the Beinecke Library, Yale (2014) where Miłosz’s archives are kept, I looked at the relation between the personal, poetical and political and at the ways in which traumatic life experience colours the poet’s translation practice.
The time in Sao Paulo gave me a unique chance to work on this project as well as other related topics. I spent a lot of time at the Biblioteca Brasiliana (the Mindlin Library) which offered a perfect quiet place for my work.