David Dufour, Communications Coordinator
Language Technologies Research Centre
Since January 2013, TEPOQAL (Traductions Espagnoles de la POésie Québécoise en Amérique Latine), a project documenting Spanish translations of Quebec poetry in Latin America, has been available online. This project was developed by University of Quebec in Outaouais (UQO) professor Madeleine Stratford and the Language Technologies Research Centre (LTRC). It records all French-language Quebec poetry that has been translated into Spanish in Latin American countries. Thanks to TEPOQAL, it is now possible to find out which poets and which poems have been translated and published in Spanish by our neighbours to the south. TEPOQAL is an exhaustive database and a valuable tool for anyone who wants to discover the role of Quebec poetry abroad. LinguisTech has compiled an overview of this extensive archival project implemented by Ms. Stratford and her collaborators.
Madeleine Stratford's enthusiasm for languages is evident in her experience. Besides writing and translating poetry, Ms. Stratford studied German- and Spanish-language literature before obtaining a doctorate in Translation Studies at Laval University. At the time, she was interested in the work of Argentinian poet Alejandra Pizarnik and Austrian poet Ingeborg Bachmann. One day, a professor at Laval University happened to suggest that she give a lecture on translation and Quebec in Cordoba, Argentina. Ms. Stratford was very excited about this suggestion and started researching Spanish translations of Quebec poets for her presentation. To her surprise, the list of translations was quite long, but copies were in short supply. Spanish translations of Quebec authors exist, but they are often out of print, poorly documented or absent from library catalogues. To remedy this situation, an archive needed to be developed.
In 2009, Ms. Stratford obtained a position as professor at UQO. She was still entertaining the idea of creating a bibliographic database project for Latin American translations of Quebec poets. She soon received a research grant from UQO and another one from the Fonds de recherche du Québec en société et culture to start her project. In addition, the presence of the LTRC at UQO seemed like a lucky coincidence. The LTRC provided support for her project and gave her the flexibility she needed to complete it. In 2010, Ms. Stratford formed a research team of collaborators, most of whom were undergraduate and master's students. In the years that followed, her team spent hours combing Canadian archives and the written press, searching the Internet, and contacting people, publishers, and poets. They searched using the names of authors, translators, and publishers, always with the same search criteria, with the goal of creating the first virtual database of Quebec poetry translated into Spanish.
Although all the right conditions seemed to be present for success, there was no lack of obstacles. In some cases, there were several different translations of one text; in other cases, some publishing formats had to be left out because only the collections and anthologies that met the search criteria could be retained. In addition, the language barrier was an obstacle to making connections abroad. Luckily, Ms. Stratford had help from her assistant Marco Suarez, who comes from Mexico. Rigour and efficiency were the words of the day for this three-year long bibliographic research project. This is how TEPOQAL was created.
Anyone can access TEPOQAL through the LinguisTech website and find poets, poems, and poetry collections that have been translated into Spanish and distributed in Latin America. The platform is divided into two sections: TEPOQAL I and TEPOQAL II. TEPOQAL I (www) contains about 100 bibliographic records for collections and anthologies of Quebec poetry translated from French into Spanish and published or distributed in Latin America from 1980 to 2011. TEPOQAL II (www) contains nearly 700 records for translated poems in the collective anthologies that are recorded in TEPOQAL I. Of course, because of copyright, you will not find entire poems published on the website, but you will find bibliographic records showing each poet's publications in Latin America.
Throughout its history, Quebec has always welcomed poetry as part of its identity. From Gaston Miron to Saint-Denys Garneau, its authors have carved out a space in the collective imagination. In a post-industrial era when we could consider this literary genre outdated, it is surprising to see that almost 100 works from Quebec have been translated in Latin America, that Quebec exists in the eyes of others, and that Latin sensitivity survives somewhere, between our two cultural universes. It is also interesting to see that Mexico and Argentina are the two countries that have published the greatest number of Quebec poems and that these publications are probably the result of travel by poets from Quebec promoting art from Quebec. This is what we can learn from the TEPOQAL project: that Quebec exports its culture, that it is recognized around the world, and that it benefits from exporting its culture. Long live the "Latinos of the North"!
TEPOQAL was officially launched on Tuesday, June 4, 2013, at Tonik Bar in the Taché building of the University of Quebec in Outaouais.