Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Black Fox: A Life of Emilie Demant Hatt, Artist and Ethnographer

In October 2017 the University of Wisconsin Press will publish my biography of Emilie Demant Hatt. Here's a preview of the cover and some ordering information:

In 1904 a young Danish woman met a Sami wolf hunter on a train in Sweden. This chance encounter transformed the lives of artist Emilie Demant and the hunter, Johan Turi. In 1907–8 Demant went to live with Sami families in their tents and on migrations, later writing a lively account of her experiences. She collaborated with Turi on his book about his people. On her own and later with her husband Gudmund Hatt, she roamed on foot through Sami regions as an ethnographer and folklorist. As an artist, she created many striking paintings with Sami motifs. Her exceptional life and relationships come alive in this first English-language biography.

“A fascinating story of a talented woman's unconventional career at the outset of the twentieth century. Through Sjoholm's meticulous archival investigation, Emilie Demant Hatt emerges as a woman of tremendous energy, insight, and vision, unafraid to cross the various academic, artistic, and cultural barriers of her time.”
—Thomas A. DuBois, translator of Johan Turi's An Account of the Sámi

“Emilie Demant Hatt's contributions to Sami ethnography deserve wide recognition, and this biography provides an absorbing account of her achievements as an ethnographer as well as an artist.”
—Trude Fonneland, author of Contemporary Shamanisms in Norway

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

New Museum of Failure in Sweden

Coming up in June, the world's first Museum of Failure is set to open in the Swedish city of Helsingborg. Focusing on innovations that didn't quite make it as saleable products (Bic for Her),
and on ideas that were before or behind their time (Google Glass), the museum has 51 objects so far, says its founder, Samuel West, with more arriving every day.

These "floppar" are meant to be funny, horrifying, and instructive. Apparently we learn from our mistakes.

Though in the case of this board game below, it seems that failure was only a spur to hugher and greater failures to come:

Trump: The Game. Photo: Björn Lindgren
For more on the Museum of Failure that "showcases flop products."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sami Parliament Persuades Norwegian Pension Fund to Divest from DAPL

In an act of international solidarity between indigenous peoples, the Sami parliament in Norway has persuaded the country’s second largest pension fund to withdraw its money from companies linked to a controversial oil project backed by Donald Trump.

The project to build the 1,900 km Dakota Access oil pipeline across six US states has prompted massive protests from Native American activists at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

This week, after lobbying by the Sami parliament, Norway’s local authority pension fund KLP announced it would sell off shares worth $58m in companies building the pipeline.

Vibeke Larsen, president of the Sami parliament, said the pension fund announced the move when she arrived at a meeting in Oslo to discuss Dakota Access. “We feel a strong solidarity with other indigenous people in other parts of the world, so we are doing our part in Norway by putting pressure on the pension funds,” she told the Guardian.

 Read the full article by Rachel Fixsen  in the Guardian.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Clearing Out translation wins prize from American-Scandinavian Foundation

Helene Uri, author of Clearing Out

I'm pleased to announce that the American-Scandinavian Foundation in New York  recently awarded me the Nadia Christensen Prize for my translation of Clearing Out [Rydde ut] by Norwegian author Helene Uri.

I previously wrote about Helene Uri and this particular novel in a blog post on Lapponia in 2014. I loved the novel so much that I asked the Norwegian publishers about translating it, then pursued publication in the U.S. Although publication hasn't happened yet, I did receive a 2016 NEA translation fellowship to help with the work. I'm delighted that the ASF prize will also bring attention to the novel.

The ASF also gave the Leif and Inger Sjöberg Award, recognizing distinguished effort by a translator who has not previously published a literary translation, to Kara Billey Thordarson, from Red Deer, Alberta, for her translation of Stormviðvörun by Icelandic author Kristín Svava Tómasdóttir.

Excerpts of both translations will appear in the Spring issue of Scandinavian Review, the journal published by The American-Scandinavian Foundation. Another excerpt from Clearing Out was published in 2016 by Two Lines, the translation review.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Sami National Day

Today, February 6, is national Sami day, celebrated in the Nordic countries, as it is around the world, wherever Sami people and their friends and allies live.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, it has been celebrated for several years at the Scandinavian Cultural Center at Pacific Lutheran University outside Tacoma. The festivities for today are now re-scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 2:30 because of snow and school closings.

2017 holds special resonance. A hundred years ago, in Trondheim, the first pan-Sami congress took place. This 1917 congress was largely conceived and organized by Elsa Laula Renberg, who gave the opening address. There were others who played a role organizing and publicizing the event, including Daniel Mortenson, a reindeer herder and editor from Røros, Norway;  the Norwegian journalist Ellen Lie, who managed press coverage; and Anna Erika Löfwander Jarwson, who opened up her hotel in Trondheim for Sami guests and who took care of many of the arrangements for food and drink.

Herders and their families came from all over Norway and Sweden. They debated a number of issues, including schooling for their children, herding rights, conflicts with settlers, and the use of “Sami” instead of “Lapp.”

Today in Trondheim, the festivities were attended by Sweden’s Culture Minister Alice Bah Kuhnke and by Norway’s King Harald and Prime Minister Erna Solberg will also attend. Solberg was quoted as saying, "Previously, we have apologized on behalf of the Norwegian people for the Norwegianizing policy that was led for not only decades, but in fact hundreds of years, where we tried to remove the Sami’s cultural expression."

Saturday, February 4, 2017

ALTA and other translation organizations stand up for cross-cultural exchange

A Joint Statement on the Executive Order
Restricting Immigrant and Refugee Entry into the US

Dear ALTA colleagues and friends,
We the undersigned wish to affirm that freedom of expression and unfettered exchange of ideas are among the core tenets of our society as much as they are indispensable means of cross-cultural understanding and peaceful co-existence. Writers, translators and interpreters would be vulnerable to the far-reaching consequences of the travel ban; these professionals are crucial to the advancement of cross-cultural cooperation, and their efforts would be harmed by the corrosive effects of distrust and exclusion. If national security is our priority, we should recognize that we are safer with the knowledge translators provide about the culture, values, and humanity of other countries. At a time in history when people feel so divided, we believe that our stories—and the people who make it possible to hear them told—are critical to sustaining our coexistence. We voice our support for the refugees fleeing wars—for whom the U.S. has always been a place of refuge, and whose spirit of creativity and innovation has made our cultural and artistic life all the richer and infinitely more diverse. Turning away today's refugees may amount to turning down immeasurable human potential. We therefore urge the President to rescind the travel ban immediately.

American Literary Translators Association
Center for the Art of Translation
PEN America Translation Committee & Subcommittee on Freedom of Expression
Red T
Words Without Borders

Monday, September 5, 2016

Fossil Island wins Historical Novel Society award for best indie novel

Over the past weekend, at the Historical Novel Society conference, held this year in Oxford, England, my novel Fossil Island was chosen as a best indie novel of 2015. I was sorry I couldn't attend to win in person (and also just to participate in what seems to have been, from the Twitter feed, a pretty jolly event, with a lot of dressing up and fascinating panels). Never mind, I will definitely be at the next conference in Portland, OR, so very much closer to home. Thanks, HNS! It's a great organization and I appreciate the honor.

A couple of months ago, last year's winner, Anna Belfrage, posted this interview with me about Fossil Island. Anna is Swedish but writes her fine historical novels in English.

The end of summer turned out to be a lucky time for me. A couple of weeks ago it was also announced that I'd been awarded an NEA fellowship in translation. The project is Helene Uri's novel, Clearing Out, which I wrote about here in November, 2014. I'm still looking for a publisher for this fantastic novel from Norway with a Sami theme.