Betsy Wing has worked for many years as a translator of books from French to English and has published more than twenty volumes of translation with editors at Harvard, the University of Minnesota, the University of Nebraska and, more recently with Dalkey Archive Press. The works have dealt with many subjects: philosophy, political science, poetry and literary fiction, and have ranged from the French feminist thought of Hélène Cixous to the poetics and political philosophy of Edouard Glissant. Each translation involved delving into new ways of thinking about the world and, frequently, considerable research.
Through her work in translation, Wing became acutely aware of the extent to which all works of art are also translations, whether written as fiction or poetry or created in one of the visual arts—translations of something haunting one’s mind. Her new novel NOW HISTORY: One Home Front in WWII is, indeed a translation of distant voices, echoes of a time.
She structured the novel around the information her characters, isolated from the actual events, had available to them on a daily basis—essentially the censored version of the war that they read in the daily paper. Lurking in the background is what we now know about the events of World War II, but the story on the pages of NOW HISTORY comes from long hours of reading their local paper on microfilm and imagining their lives around this information. The result is a subtle, poignant story of discovering the many losses that war entails, even at a distance, as well as the empowering knowledge that comes from learning to deal with difficulties on one’s own.
Wing’s earlier fiction, a novella and short story collection, LOOK OUT FOR HYDROPHOBIA is a compilation gleaned from work done over a rather long period of time and deals in many touching and yet funny ways with various stages of a woman’s maturity.
More recently Betsy Wing has been exploring the art of printmaking as a form of expression (and translation). Her work is mostly monotypes, a painterly form of the art which produces singular, original pieces rather than the repeatable images for which most forms of printmaking are known.
Her prints have been exhibited at the Caffery Gallery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and at the annual show of work by “The Illuminateds” at the Barn on Paradise Point in East Boothbay, Maine. They have also been exhibited in numerous juried shows. Some of them may be seen at the gallery attached to her website betsywing.com