illustrated books for people who love languages
Why Stenen Press?
Stenen Press was founded in 2020—a year of great change and isolation—with a mission to publish literature that rethinks artistic, cultural, political, geographic, and literary borders. We are dedicated to the incisive, transformative voices of our time, writing that challenges the status quo and that nourishes intercultural understanding. Every year we publish 1–3 works of illustrated poetry and short-form, genre-bending writing.
How do we support practitioners of translation and visual artists?
Bilingual, illustrated publications require the dynamic engagement of all contributors: authors, translators, and illustrators. At Stenen Press we celebrate translators as writers who engage in a dynamic and continuous process of linguistic co-creation. We also celebrate illustrators as collaborative visual artists of the highest order. We believe it is obvious, and just, that the names of our translators and illustrators should appear alongside those of authors on every book cover.
What voices do we hope to amplify in our publications?
At Stenen Press, we believe that making world literature available in English 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 the majority of this effort is focused on Romance languages. Stenen Press seeks writing from outside of the Anglosphere and prioritizes, in particular, literature(s) that have been overlooked in translation. This includes, but is not limited to, languages from the Global South, creole and pidgin-based languages, oral/spoken languages, and indigenous languages.
Why the bilingual format?
Our formal commitment to the bilingual format allows us to walk our talk, since it fosters parity between the original language and its English translation. 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 an illustrated book?
Every Stenen Press publication places visual art at the heart of its artistic purpose. This premise reflects our aspiration to create electrifying human conversations that benefit from a variety of literary and artistic input. In our experience, the bilingual form presents some of the most worthwhile and challenging spaces for visual expression. Not only do our illustrators build miraculous worlds for words to inhabit, they bridge languages and transmogrify conceptual storytelling with the aesthetic.
Who do we partner with?
Stenen Press is eager to partner with organizations who 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; as such, we are on the lookout for partnership opportunities with organizations that support migrant and refugee communities as well as stateless peoples more broadly.
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.