TRANSLATION PROJECTS: Frequently Asked Questions

The following are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about Translation Projects.

1. Will you accept joint applications?

No. Translation fellowships are individual grants. However, we recognize that many translators work collaboratively. You may use a translation project grant to work on a collaborative project, if your application so indicates. If you apply to work on a collaborative project, you must submit a statement that outlines the role(s) of the collaborator(s) and the recognition that he/she/they will receive for the project. The manuscript sample must be by the collaborative team.

The collaborator(s) are not required to meet the eligibility requirements, as they are not applicants for funding.

Only works by the applicant and/or the collaborative team may be used to establish eligibility. Works translated independently by the applicant’s collaborator(s) may not be used to establish eligibility.

2. Will the NEA fund translations into languages other than English?

No. Projects must be for translations of literary material from any language into English only.

3. Can book galleys count toward meeting the eligibility requirements?

No. In order to apply, you must meet the eligibility requirements by the deadline date. Reader's advance copies, galleys, uncorrected proofs, and commitments for future publication or production do not fulfill the requirements. No exceptions are made to the eligibility requirements.

4. If the publisher verifies that the English-language rights are available, is that sufficient approval to meet copyright requirements?

No. Simply stating the availability of English-language rights to a work does not demonstrate that you have been granted permission to translate a work. Although we do not require applicants to secure publishing rights, we will not fund work that is not authorized by the rights holder(s) and therefore would not have a chance of eventual publication. You must demonstrate, in writing, that the author/rights holder(s) will allow you to undertake a translation of the work specified in your application.

If the copyright holder does not want to or is unable to provide a right to translate, the NEA may accept an alternative form of rights via the National Endowment for the Arts’ own Acknowledgement of Translation form. The form must be accompanied by written evidence that the publisher is not otherwise willing to provide rights. We will not accept any alternative form of documentation, and we will not accept any modifications to or annotations to the form.

If you propose to translate an anthology, appropriate permission must be secured from the rights holder(s) of each work that would appear in the proposed translation.

If a work is in the public domain, you do not have to secure permission to translate it. However, you must provide a statement that the project is in the public domain along with an accurate and thorough justification of your statement. The agency evaluates this justification, along with other pertinent information, and determines whether or not it is sufficient in its sole discretion.

You must have secured any rights necessary by the time of application. If written permission from the copyright holder is in a foreign language, you must provide an English translation. The Arts Endowment may contact you for further documentation of rights clearance, or of the credentials/accuracy of any translation of a legal document you have provided at any time.

5. Do scholarly articles count toward establishing eligibility?

No. Eligibility must be established through translations of creative writing, such as fiction, poetry, drama, or belles-lettres (creative nonfiction, criticism, and essays). Articles written in English that contain translated passages do not count toward eligibility.

6. Do blogs count as eligible publications

In general, no; they are considered self-publication. However, curated blogs exist that may be eligible publication sources. Contact the Literary Arts staff for a specific determination of eligibility.

7. May I submit a letter of recommendation?

No. In previous years, we allowed students to submit letters of recommendation; such letters are no longer accepted. If a letter is included with an application, it will not be reviewed.

8. For the application package, how do I determine my Congressional District? What if I'm an American living abroad?

Visit the House of Representatives website at and use the "Find Your Representative" tool. If the address on your application is outside the United States, enter 00-000 for your Congressional District.

9. My postal code is in red after I type it on the application package. Does this mean there's a problem?

Yes. The form requires your Zip+4. If you do not know your full zip code, you may look it up at

10. Do I have to submit my application in English?

Yes, all application material must be submitted in English with only one exception for those portions of the original work which your sample translation renders.

11. May I submit translations of my own writing to establish eligibility?

Yes, you may include in your Summary of Applicant Publications/Productions a list of translations (into English) of your own writing (poetry, prose, drama).

12. I'm self-published. Am I eligible for a fellowship?

For determining eligibility, we do not accept any publication by presses that publish work without competitive selection or professional editing. If you feel your publication falls outside of these parameters, call the Literature Fellowships Hotline for guidance.

13. Should I list everything I've published to show I'm eligible just in case there's a question?

No. If you can establish your eligibility with one book, just list that book. If you're unsure if the book meets our eligibility requirements, list journal publications as well, but only as many as you need to establish your eligibility. Our panelists will not see your publications.

14. I'm on faculty at a university. May the fellowship go directly to my university so that I may buy time off from teaching to complete my project?

No. Fellowships are individual awards; all funds are dispersed only to the fellow. However, once our fellows receive funds, it is up to them how they wish to spend it (as long as it relates to their translation project). A fellow could pay his/her university directly in order to receive time off.

15. What if my project has begun before the allowable start date?

If this is the case, contact the NEA’s Literary Arts staff for guidance before applying. Most often this is not a problem, as long as the bulk of the work on the project occurs during the period of performance.

16. Must my project be completed by the end of the period of performance?

Yes. However, in the event of unforeseen delays, grantees may request a new project end date by writing to our Grants Management Office at least 30 days before the end of an award. Extension requests are considered on a case-by-case basis and approval is not guaranteed.

17. Do you accept translations of anthologies?

Yes. However, permission to translate the works included in the anthology must be obtained from each work’s respective copyright holder before the application is submitted.

If you have questions about your application, contact the Literary Arts staff at 202-682-5034 or email