literary & visual books across languages
Why Stenen Press?
Stenen Press was founded in 2020 with a mission to re-define the art of translation through bilingual, visual books. Our authors, literary translators, and artists work collaboratively to render meanings through languages and images. The result is a fusion between poetry or other short-form writing and the art book.
Why the bilingual format?
We value the natural parity of the bilingual format, with its consistent pairing of an original text and its translation on the page. Rather than conceiving of translation as an act of ‘targeting’ towards a language, we aspire toward a more circular exchange. Our translators render texts both toward English, and away from it (including, but not limited to, diasporic writers who write in English and wish to have their work re-located in their culture of origin). As a result, English functions as a common thread in our publications but it is not the final goal. We believe this approach best supports our mission to build a book ecosystem that not only broadens the English-speaking literary landscape but, in this broadening, cross-examines imbalances of power and our preconceptions about people who are different from us. It has never been more important for voices in languages other than English to be seen, heard, and read globally, especially in an American context.
What is a visual translation?
Every Stenen Press publication places visual art at the heart of its creative purpose. In our experience, the bilingual form presents a unique and challenging space for visual expression. We invite artists to the process of rendering texts as a type of visual translator since they often offer solutions to the conventional impasses of untranslatable words, passages, or concepts. Likewise, their visual offerings can also impact the way authors and translators render language. As a result, our books build new worlds for words to inhabit and create electrifying human conversations.
How do we support literary translators and visual artists?
At Stenen Press we celebrate translation as an act of dynamic and continuous process of co-creation that has transformative potential for the work of all its stakeholders: authors, translators, and visual artists. Learn more about our contributors > We believe it is obvious, and just, that the names of our translators and artists should appear alongside those of authors on every book cover. We offer compensation based on the amount of involvement and contribution, rather than a biased valuation of one role over another.
What voices do we hope to amplify in our publications?
At Stenen Press, we believe that making world literature available to English-speaking readers is crucial for building a diverse, multilingual, and healthy book culture. Only a small annual percentage (reportedly in the single digits) of new literature published in the United States is work in translation, and conventionally this effort has been focused on Romance languages. Stenen Press seeks writing from outside of the Anglosphere and prioritizes, in particular, literature(s) that have been overlooked or been subject to colonial pressures in translation. This includes, but is not limited to, languages from the Global South, oral/spoken languages, and indigenous languages.
Who do we partner with?
Stenen Press is eager to partner with organizations that share a commitment to promoting intercultural dialogue and understanding. The Press actively seeks other organizations and communities that support the production of works in translation. These include, but are not limited to, other literary presses, translation collectives, local independent bookstores, fellowship/residency programs, academic institutions, embassies, and non-governmental organizations. We see a strong connection between supporting literary translation and supporting the people most impacted by the inequities of a bordered world. Stenen Press is also a proud supporter of Afikra, Malala Fund, and Doctors without Borders.
We believe the need to reconsider global barriers has never been greater. By placing acts of translation and the visual arts in alliance to tell stories, Stenen Press provides new avenues of cultural engagement for its readers. Our bilingual editions—which privilege both their original language and English translations—support the idea of the border region as a space of extraordinary creative capacity and provide opportunities to reinvent geo-political and temporal spaces.