Translation rates for poetry
Thread poster: Anca Patrascu

Anca Patrascu
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:34
French to English
+ ...
May 13, 2017

Hello fellow translators,

I have been offered a project to translate a volume of poetry (88 poems of an average of 10 lines) from Romanian into English.

As I am fairly new to this field, would you be able to advise on what rates I should ask for?

All the best


Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:34
German to English
Charge a multiple of your normal rate May 14, 2017

Assuming that poetry can be translated at all, it takes a high degree of reflection and a great deal of aesthetic sensibility to create a translation that is anything but doggerel. That is, the effort involved is several magnitudes greater than, say, translating user instructions for an electric toothbrush.


Thayenga  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:34
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Rates May 15, 2017

Hello Anca,

you can either charge your per word rate or agree with your client on a per line or per poem rate.

Translating poetry usually takes 2.5 - 3 times (or in some cases more) longer than translating regular text. You need to calculate how many poems you will be able to translate in 1 hour, allowing you some extra time, depending on whether your client wants you to keep the metrics and/or the rhyme. This should give you the per word, per line, per poem rates.

Additionally you should negotiate the copyright agreement for these poems.

Good luck.


[Edited at 2017-05-15 06:09 GMT]


Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:34
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Do not do it for the money May 15, 2017

Translating poetry never pays financially. I have translated a poem book in the past, and easily took me about 10 times more than my normal work. Maybe not writing time, but thinking time, as it occupied my mind for many hours every day.

Having written my bit myself, it was really enjoyable to translate the poems, and I was happy with the money I was paid, which was rather symbolic in proportion to my regular income for the time I spent.


Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Local time: 19:34
Member (2016)
English to German
Try a sample first May 15, 2017

Before even starting rate negotiations, I would first ask the client for their precise expectations regarding the translation. A poem is not like any content, it consists not only of the obvious meaning, it might have several layers of hidden meanings, it might have a certain rhythm in the language, a certain structure of the verses and the like, and if you are expected to convey all these aspects into the target language, this might take any amount of time or even be impossible. If you have more freedom regarding the outcome, it might be easier and take less time.

If I were you, I would suggest to start with a small sample, like five of the 88 poems, do it for a fixed price, and find out how much time you need to do it and how the client likes the result, before negotiating the full project.


Thayenga  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:34
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
It does May 15, 2017

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Translating poetry never pays financially.

The depends on the client. 2 Euros per line of 5 - 7 words is quite a rewarding payment. But agreed, this might be a rare exception.icon_smile.gif


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Translation rates for poetry

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