About this Conference and Conversation Series

Democracy means different things to each of us. In this perilous time for language, as Natalie Diaz describes it, what multiplicity of forms does the struggle to liberate ourselves from structurally embedded violence take? How much does democracy need translation, and what role do translation and multilingualism play in our democracy? This conversation, which is part of the Transating the Future conference finale features MacArthur award-winning poet Natalie Diaz; Ken Liu, author of The Dandelion Dynasty series and translator of Chinese science fiction; and Marilyn Nelson, award-winning poet, translator, and author of How I Discovered Poetry. This event is free and open to the public, but please register here to

Click here to register for this event and for the link to the livestream. Free and open to the public, the livestream will start Thu, Sep 24th, at 7:00 PM (EDT).

The conversations will be hosted by Esther Allen & Allison Markin Powell.

Speaker Bios:

Natalie Diaz is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press, and her second book, Postcolonial Love Poem, was published by Graywolf Press in March 2020. She is a MacArthur Fellow, a Lannan Literary Fellow, a United States Artists Ford Fellow, and a Native Arts Council Foundation Artist Fellow. Diaz is Director of the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands and is the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Visit Natalie Diaz's website for more info.




Marilyn Nelson
, a three-time finalist for the National Book Award, is one of America’s most celebrated poets. She is the author or translator of seventeen poetry books for adults and children, five chapbooks, and in 2014 she published a memoir, named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2014, entitled How I Discovered Poetry—a series of 50 poems about growing up in the 1950’s in a military family, each poem stamped with a place and date from the many places they lived. Her honors include two NEA creative writing fellowships, the 2019 Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the 1990 Connecticut Arts Award, an A.C.L.S. Contemplative Practices Fellowship, the Department of the Army’s Commander’s Award for Public Service, a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship, a fellowship from the J.S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Frost Medal-the Poetry Society of America’s most prestigious award, for a “distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry.” Nelson is a professor emerita of English at the University of Connecticut; was (2004-2010) founder/director and host of Soul Mountain Retreat, a small non-profit writers’ colony; and held the office of Poet Laureate of the State of Connecticut from 2001-2006. Visit Marilyn Nelson's website for more info.



Ken Liu is an American author of speculative fiction. He has won the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards, as well as top genre honors in Japan, Spain, and France, among other countries. Liu’s debut novel, The Grace of Kings, is the first volume in a silkpunk epic fantasy series, The Dandelion Dynasty, in which engineers play the role of wizards. His debut collection, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, has been published in more than a dozen languages. A second collection, The Hidden Girl and Other Stories, followed. He also wrote the Star Wars novel, The Legends of Luke Skywalker. Liu is, as well, the translator for Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem, Hao Jingfang’s “Folding Beijing” and Vagabonds, Chen Qiufan’s Waste Tide, and the editor of Invisible Planets and Broken Stars, anthologies of contemporary Chinese science fiction. Visit Ken Liu's website for more info.

This evening is supported by the GC Presents' Promise and Perils of Democracy project, which is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Democracy and Translation is co-sponsored by GC Presents and is part of the Translating the Future conference and conversation series, which is co-sponsored by the Center for the Humanities at The Graduate Center, PEN America, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, with additional support from the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center.


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