Collective residences

KỌ́LÁ TÚBỌ̀SÚN

From Tuesday, 2 November 2021 to Friday, 12 November 2021

KỌ́LÁ TÚBỌ̀SÚN
Writer and linguist
Nigeria

Bio

Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún is a Nigerian writer and linguist. His debut collection of poetry Edwardsville by Heart was published in 2018 while his latest work Ìgbà Èwe, a translated collection of poems by Emily R. Grosholz, was published in 2021.

His work as a linguist is in language documentation, lexicography, and language advocacy — for which he was awarded the Premio Ostana in 2016. In 2015, he founded YorubaName.com, a multimedia dictionary of Yorùbá names — the first of its kind in Nigeria. He has also worked with Google and Oxford Dictionaries on Nigerian English lexicography and other Nigerian language projects.

He was a Miles Morland Foundation Scholar in 2019 and has worked as a literary editor as well. His work has appeared in African Writer, Aké Review, Brittle Paper, International Literary Quarterly, Enkare Review, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, PEN Transmissions, Jalada, Popula, Saraba Magazine, The Guardian (Nigerian and UK), ThisisAfrica, among others.

He was, from 2019 to 2020, a Chevening Research Fellow at the British Library in London. Read more at www.kolatubosun.com

Project

At Olot, I intend to complete the work on a translation of selected short stories by selected Nigerian and African creative writers into Yorùbá, my mother tongue. The aim of the project, along with the most obvious of which is to make the work available in a Nigerian language and continue the conversation between the writers and their immediate environments, is also to make Nigerian and African languages into conscious and regular destination of translation efforts in African creative writing. This is a way to extend the runway of their lifespan as viable platforms for transmitting literature into the next generation, while providing corpora for future language technology work in lexicography, translation, education, and machine learning.

A Home Away from Home: My Experience at Faber Llull, Olot

My work in Nigeria, in linguistics and language activism, is often technical, requiring my voice and presence — online or offline, networking with people, and participating in relevant physical activities. The dictionary of names that I manage has continued to thrive and provide a space for people interested in Yorùbá language and naming systems to interact; but it has also provided a space to see what is possible in the space of language documentation.

My interaction with the Faber Residency in Olot this year was my second time in the flesh, the first being in November 2018, when I was first invited along with about a dozen other language professionals. Each session has carried with it a period of intense physical and intellectual interaction with others from around the world doing something similar to what I’m doing in the space of languages and literature. With the Covid pandemic limiting us to our houses in 2020, my participation was virtual. This year provided a new opportunity to meet new people, do some work, and see Catalonia again with fresh eyes.

My proposed project this year is a creative writing work which also has roots in my work in language advocacy. My language is Yorùbá, a language of southwestern Nigeria which — though spoken by over 30 million speakers — still doesn’t have a contemporary literary culture. It used to. From the early 1920s to the late 80s, there was a sustained publishing culture in Yorùbá language that churned out many bestsellers and classics that are still being read today. But globalization, the downturn of the economy, language attitude, and a number of other destructive factors intruded. Today, there are no publishers taking a bet on Yorùbá language literature, so there are no new authors or books. It is somehow worse in other Nigerian languages like Igbo or Hausa or Edo, etc. The most famous writers from Nigeria today are writing in English, from Wole Soyinka to Teju Cole to Chimamanda Adichie.

So, my project is an attempt to bring back a semblance of a Nigerian literary culture in the local language by translating twenty contemporary stories from Nigerian writers (and other world writers) from English into a Nigerian language, Yorùbá. The project, my proposed book of translations, is currently in progress. Through my one and a half weeks at Faber Residency Olot, I worked on a translation of short fiction work by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami as an addition to a couple more I had done before coming to Catalonia. I am back home now and the project continues.

I am happy for the residency space provided by Faber Llull, and the company of other like-minded scholars present there to spark fire under my work. Taking time off my busy schedule in Lagos to dedicate time to a creative endeavour is a luxury that not many have, but which has huge significance for my productivity. The interaction with my colleagues, listening to their projects and thinking, is a huge part of the benefits of this residency. I look forward to more collaborations with Faber in the future.

Notícies, articles i activitats

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