Emerging Translator Mentorship Program

Emerging Translator Mentorship Program

Mentee Reilly Costigan and Mentor Marian Schwartz at the ALTA42 conferenceThe ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorship Program is designed to establish and facilitate a close working relationship between an experienced translator and an emerging translator on a literary translation project selected by the emerging translator. The mentorship duration is approximately nine months. The emerging translator is expected to choose a project that can be completed in that time, and they will only be advised on that particular project. ALTA's Emerging Translator Mentorship Program was founded in 2015 by former ALTA Board member Allison M. Charette. Since its inception, the program has supported 54 translators working from 18 languages.

Program Structure

All mentors and mentees meet via video conference at the beginning of their mentorship in February, and continue their work through individual meetings during the rest of the mentorship year, either in person, over Skype, or by phone. A minimum of six meetings is expected for the course of the program. The mentorship will conclude with a presentation of the mentee’s work in a reading at the annual ALTA conference in the fall. ALTA's mentees also have the option to take part in our "First Look" program, which allows participating magazine and book publishers to be the first to read excerpts of the translations mentees have worked on throughout their mentorship, for possible publication. The $1500 travel stipend covers ALTA conference registration, as well as travel to the conference location and on-site accommodations. Please note that each of our program funders may have different stipulations regarding travel funding.

Click here to read about ALTA's current and former mentees.
Click here to read about the many accomplishments of ALTA's current and former mentees. 
Click here to read an interview between 2021 mentor Mike Fu and mentee Jenna Tang. 

2023 Mentorships 

The following 8 mentorships are available in 2023, offered by ALTA in partnership with Amazon Crossing, the Dutch Foundation for Literature, the Literature Translation Institute of Korea, the Swedish Arts Council, Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture and Taiwan Academy of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles (TECO-LA), the Yanai Initiative, and generous individual donors. Applications for the 2023 program opened on September 1, 2022 and closed on November 30, 2022.

Read about the 2023 mentors on ALTA's blog.

  • Dutch prose, with mentor David McKay
  • Japanese, with mentor David Boyd 
  • Korean poetry, with mentor Jack Jung 
  • Korean prose, with mentor Janet Hong 
  • Non-language-specific BIPOC mentorship in prose, with mentor Mui Poopoksakul (open to translators who identify as Black, Indigenous and/or a Person of Color)
  • *Non-language-specific, non-genre-specific, with mentor Bill Johnston 
  • Swedish, with mentor Kira Josefsson 
  • Literature from Taiwan, with mentor Steve Bradbury



Applications for ALTA's Mentorship Program are accepted annually from September 1 - November 30. 

Applications must be submitted online through our submission platform, and must include:

  • CV
  • A project proposal of no more than 1000 words. Projects must be literary in nature, and must be reasonably expected to be completed within the scope of the nine-month mentorship. Proposals should include information about the original author and importance of the source text, as well as how the emerging translator would benefit from mentorship. 
  • A sample translation of 8-10 pages from the proposed project (double-spaced if it is prose), along with the corresponding source text IN ONE DOCUMENT.
  • Indication of your willingness to travel to Tucson for the ALTA conference in the fall.

If you have questions about the application process, please email Program Manager Kelsi Vanada after you have reviewed the program FAQ (click the button below).

Mentorship program FAQ

*Additional information about the Non-language-specific, Non-genre-specific Mentorship offered in partnership with Amazon Crossing:

  • This mentorship will be preferentially awarded to a translator working from an underrepresented or underfunded language.
  • Preference will not be given to projects from the mentor's language.
  • Projects may not be proposed from languages already offered in language-specific mentorships (i.e. Russian or Polish prose)
  • Amazon Crossing will be granted right of first refusal on the completed manuscript resulting from this mentorship.

The program is open to emerging literary translators at no cost to them. An emerging translator is someone who has published no more than one full-length work of literary translation. While ALTA’s Mentorship Program is open to all applicants, we especially encourage applications from translators of color, translators with disabilities, LGBTQ+ translators, and those who don't have an MA, an MFA, or some other equivalent type of training, such as a mentorship from the National Centre for Writing’s Emerging Translator Mentorships (UK). Though contemporary English is the target language, the emerging translator need not live in the United States. The selected mentee’s proposed project will be worked on based on availability (it's good practice to secure the rights before beginning a project, but applicants are not expected to secure rights in order to submit their proposal. We do encourage applicants to check on the status of the rights). We welcome applicants who were not accepted in previous years to reapply with the same project or a different one.

This program is distinct from the ALTA Travel Fellowships. Current mentees are not eligible to apply for an ALTA Travel Fellowship. Previous years' Fellows are welcome to apply for the Mentorship Program, however.

While applicants are encouraged to apply simultaneously to multiple mentorship programs (such as those offered by the National Centre for Writing, LTAC/QWF, etc), please note that successful applicants will only be allowed to pursue one mentorship at a given time. In other words, applicants selected for more than one mentorship will need to choose one to accept. This allows our programs to support the greatest number of emerging translators.

Program Funders

The 2023 mentorships are offered by ALTA in partnership with Amazon Crossing, the Dutch Foundation for Literature, the Literature Translation Institute of Korea, the Swedish Arts Council, Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture and Taiwan Academy of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles (TECO-LA), the Yanai Initiative, and generous individual donors.

View our list of past funders on our Past Mentorships page.

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

To discuss becoming a future Mentorship Program funder, please contact Program Manager Kelsi Vanada.