For the third year in a row, Columbia University School of the Arts looks forward to welcoming students from the University of Leipzig’s Creative Writing Program (Deutsches Literaturinstitut Leipzig, DLL) in a cross-cultural exchange in literary translation. For the past six months, four writers—two American writers from the School of the Arts, and two German-language writers from the DLL—have been engaged in translating each other’s work. Their collaboration will culminate in a public reading and reception on Wednesday, March 26th, at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where the writers will be presented by Professor Susan Bernofsky, distinguished translator and Director of Literary Translation at Columbia (LTAC). The evening will be comprised of readings from the writers’ work and translations, a panel discussion followed by a Q&A, and a reception.

The event starts at 7:00 pm and is free and open to the public.

This year’s translation exchange began in June 2013, when two School of the Arts graduate students from the Writing Program and two students from Deutsches Literaturinstitut Leipzig were selected for this exceptional opportunity. They began exchanging work in September and in October the Writing Program students traveled to Leipzig to meet their German partners and join them in an intensive translation workshop led by author and translator Maria Hummitzsch. They continued their work on their collaborative translations through February via the Internet, with support provided by faculty at their respective institutions.

The Word for Word exchange program was conceived by the School of the Arts Writing Program faculty in the belief that the practice of literary translation can have a transformative effect on writers’ perspectives on their own work as literary artists. In the collaborative process of translation, the student writers have not only discovered deeper levels of engagement with the written word, they have also engaged in an innovative international educational exchange, intended to strengthen ties between different cultures and languages through the art of translating literature. Over the past three years, the program has proved to be a success, and a model for future exchanges with other countries in other languages. “To immerse oneself fully in the work of translation is to become a medium, transcribing a text that is just like the original but written in a different language,” says Susan Bernofsky, Associate Professor and Director of LTAC. “These experiments in mutual translation have produced texts of great inventiveness and energy.”

The four students who will present work translated each other’s creative nonfiction and poetry. The participating students from Columbia University School of the Arts are Nika Knight (nonfiction), and Arthur Seefahrt (poetry). The student writers from the DLL are Lilian Peter (fiction/nonfiction) and Daniel Schmidt (poetry).

Columbia's School of the Arts and the DLL gratefully acknowledge the support of Consul Teta M. Moehs and the Consulate of the United States, Leipzig that has helped to make this year’s Word for Word program possible.

About Columbia University School of the Arts

Columbia University School of the Arts awards the Master of Fine Arts degree in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts and Writing and the Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. The School is a thriving, diverse community of artists from around the world with talent, vision and commitment. The faculty is composed of acclaimed and internationally renowned artists, film and theatre directors, writers of poetry, fiction and nonfiction, playwrights, producers, critics and scholars. Every year the School of the Arts presents exciting and innovative programs for the public including performances, exhibitions, screenings, symposia, a film festival and numerous lectures, readings, panel discussions and talks with artists, writers, critics and scholars. For more information, visit

About the Writing Program at Columbia University School of the Arts

The School of the Arts MFA degree in Writing is highly regarded for its rigorous approach to literary instruction and for its faculty of acclaimed writers and editors who are devoted and dedicated teachers. Students concentrate in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction, and also have the option of pursuing a joint course of study in writing and literary translation. Columbia University School of the Arts Writing Program alumni of the last 10 years cumulatively have published more than 150 books and won major international and national literary prizes including Fulbright Scholarships, Rome Prizes, National Book Critics Circle Awards, Guggenheim Fellowships and more. Visit for more information.

About the DLL

The German Creative Writing Program Leipzig (Deutsches Literaturinstitut Leipzig / DLL) is a central institute at Universität Leipzig and the oldest degree-granting program for emerging writers in Germany. Alongside the three-year BA in Creative Writing, focusing on poetry, prose and drama, an MA in Creative Writing has also been on offer from the winter semester of 2009. This is a two-year degree designed as a novel workshop. The aim of the program is to provide students with highly professional writing skills and creative competence, along with knowledge of literary history and theory.