Tom Cheesman

Tom Cheesman © Tom Cheesman Born in Liverpool in 1961, Tom Cheesman studies German and French in Oxford, where he earns his PhD in 1990. He starts working as a German lecturer in the College of Arts and Humanities at Swansea University, where he still teaches to this day. He also translates and adapts fictional works and conducts research on themes such as popular music, Turkish German writing and the representation of exile in literature.


Three questions to Tom Cheesman

Why did you choose to become a translator? Is it the profession you always wanted?

I began translating poems as a teenager just because I enjoy the intellectual challenge: for fun. Then a few years ago I began to get the odd commission for longer projects, notably from Albert Ostermaier (with an a); through him from Herbert Groenemeyer; the M P Hein book was a commission. too. I have also translated a few texts off my own bat, because I felt they deserved an international audience. The result was not exactly what I hoped: rather important (to my mind) works by Senocak and Braun were eventually published in my own micro-press (Hafan Books) simply because neither I nor the authors could find a ‘proper’ publisher in the UK or USA/Canada. I do tend to pick very non-commercial material: Ulrike Draesner’s radical sonnets are another example.
Translation is a labour of love. It’s nice to be remunerated, but recognition by one’s peers is almost as good as money.
Which German book do you like the best and why?

I don’t have a favourite German book or one I specially want to translate, at the moment.
Is there a particular book you would like to translate?

I don’t have a favourite German book or one I specially want to translate, at the moment.

Selection of translated titles

  • Volker Braun: What´s Really Wanted (Das Wirklichgewollte). Hafan Books, 2009
  • Zafer Senocak: Perilous Kinship (Gefährliche Verwandtschaft). Hafan Books, 2009
  • Ulrike Draesner: Twin Spin. Hafan Books, 2007 (out of print)
  • Manfred Peter Hein: Between Winter and Winter (Zwischen Winter und Winter). Univ. of Iceland Press, 2006
  • Feridun Zaimoglu: Kanaki Speak (Kanak Sprak). (Vorwort). In: Germany in Transit: Nation and Migration, 1955-2005. University of California Press, 2006