Announcing the Winner of the 2019 National Translation Award in Poetry: Pan Tadeusz

November 8, 2019—The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) is pleased to announce the winner of the 2019 National Translation Award (NTA) in Poetry! 2019 marks the twenty-first year for the NTA, and the fifth year to award separate prizes in poetry and prose. The NTA, which is administered by ALTA, is the only national award for translated fiction, poetry, and literary nonfiction that includes a rigorous examination of both the source text and its relation to the finished English work. This year’s judges for poetry are Anna Deeny Morales, Cole Heinowitz, and Sholeh Wolpe.

This year’s winner was awarded at the ALTA’s 42nd annual conference, Sight and Sound, held this year at the Joseph A. Floreano Riverside Convention Center and the Hyatt Regency Rochester in Rochester, NY. The winner will be awarded a $2,500 prize.

Winner: 2019 National Translation Award in Poetry

PanTadeuszPan Tadeusz: The Last Foray in Lithuania
by Adam Mickiewicz
translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston
(Archipelago Books)

The judges had the following to say about this title:

In the early 1830s, fleeing the most recent wave of armed insurrections that destroyed the centuries-old lifeways of his native Poland in the space of a generation, Adam Mickiewicz penned the 450-page verse novel that would be hailed as Europe’s last great national epic. Presented here for the first time in modern English, Johnston’s translation of Pan Tadeusz masterfully captures the exceptional beauty and disarming directness of Mickiewicz’s rhymed couplets. With its riveting narrative propulsion, intertwining plotlines, effortless ironic wit, and lovingly detailed portraits of a bygone gentry, Pan Tadeusz invites comparison with the best works of Byron or Pushkin.

Bill Johnston translates from Polish, working in a wide range of genres and historical periods. His awards include the PEN Translation Prize and the Best Translated Book Johnston, Bill_Small SquareAward, both for Wiesław Myśliwski’s novel Stone Upon Stone (2012); the Found in Translation Prize, for Tomasz Różycki’s mock-epic poem Twelve Stations (2016); fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities; and, for his overall contributions to promoting Polish literature and culture, the Transatlantyk Prize (2014) and the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit (2012). He teaches literary translation at Indiana University.

The 2020 National Translation Award in Poetry submissions portal will be opened in January 2020.

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Announcing the Winner of the 2019 National Translation Award in Prose: What’s Left of the Night

November 8, 2019—The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) is pleased to announce the winner of the 2019 National Translation Award (NTA) in Prose! 2019 marks the twenty-first year for the NTA, and the fifth year to award separate prizes in poetry and prose. The NTA, which is administered by ALTA, is the only national award for translated fiction, poetry, and literary nonfiction that includes a rigorous examination of both the source text and its relation to the finished English work. This year’s judges for prose are Bonnie Huie, Charlotte Mandell, and Jeffrey Zuckerman.

This year’s winner was awarded at the ALTA’s 42nd annual conference, Sight and Sound, held this year at the Joseph A. Floreano Riverside Convention Center and the Hyatt Regency Rochester in Rochester, NY. As this year’s judges could not be in attendance, the award was presented by former NTA judge Jeremy Tiang. The winner will be awarded a $2,500 prize.

Winner: 2019 National Translation Award in Prose

WhatsLeftOfTheNightWhat’s Left of the Night
by Ersi Sotiropoulos
translated from the Greek by Karen Emmerich
(New Vessel Press)

The judges had the following to say about this title:

C.P. Cavafy has been summed up as “a Greek gentleman in a straw hat, standing absolutely motionless at a slight angle to the universe.” Ersi Sotiropoulos’s What’s Left of the Night shakes off this cliché with sinuous sentences that describe a man in motion thoroughly enmeshed in the world. She takes us into three days and nights of Cavafy’s European tour in June 1897, as he stays in Paris with his brother and explores the city—and his still-unnamable passions. Moving seamlessly from description to thought to assessment of the poems he’s working on, the story allows us to live, briefly, in this history; in Karen Emmerich’s translation, the prose becomes as luxurious and welcoming as Cavafy’s own poetry.

Karen Emmerich is a translator of Greek poetry and prose. Her translation of Eleni Portrait-Emmerich_Karen-2018_(C)NicolasMastoras)_squaresmallVakalo’s Before Lyricism won the Best Translated Book Award for Poetry, and her co-translation with Edmund Keeley of Yiannis Ritsos’s Diaries of Exile won the PEN Poetry in Translation Award. She is also an Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University.

The 2020 National Translation Award in Prose submissions portal will be opened in January 2020.

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Announcing the Winner of the 2019 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize: Autobiography of Death

November 8, 2019—The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) is delighted to announce the winner for the 2019 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize. This prize, which was inaugurated in 2009, recognizes the importance of Asian translation for international literature and promotes the translation of Asian works into English. This year’s judges are Chenxin Jiang, Vivek Narayanan, and Hai-Dang Phan.

The award was announced during ALTA’s annual conference, ALTA42: Sight and Sound, being held this year from November 7-10 in Rochester, NY. As this year’s judges could not be in attendance, the award was presented by ALTA Vice President Ellen Elias-Bursac; as this year’s winner could not be in attendance, Steve Bradbury accepted the award on the winner’s behalf. The winner will be awarded a $5,000 prize.

Winner: The 2019 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize:

Autobiography_of_DeathAutobiography of Death
By Kim Hyesoon
Translated from the Korean by Don Mee Choi
(New Directions)

The judges had the following to say about the title:

The alert and alerting Autobiography of Death by Kim Hyesoon transforms mourning into everyday news of unjust deaths, and into a clarion call for envisioning new life under different rules. To read these poems is to pass through a geography of catastrophe, exclusion, and violence, and to reach their end is to glimpse the necessity for rebirth. Hyesoon’s expansive line, serial composition, and plural address blast open a vital, shamanistic space for the dead to speak with, to, and through the living, and Don Mee Choi’s translations deftly activate a visionary poetry of great speed, volume, and vision. The collaboration between Hyesoon and Choi continues to energize and challenge contemporary world Anglophone poetry into a zone beyond borders.

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Don Mee Choi is the author of DMZ Colony (Wave Books, Don Mee Choi2020), Hardly War (Wave Books, 2016),  The Morning News Is Exciting(Action Books, 2010) and several chapbooks and pamphlets of poems and essays. She has received a Whiting Award, Lannan Literary Fellowship, Lucien Stryk Translation Prize, and DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Fellowship. She has translated several collections of Kim Hyesoon’s poetry, including Autobiography of Death (New Directions, 2018), which received the 2019 International Griffin Poetry Prize.

The submissions portal for the 2020 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize will open in January 2020.

 

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Announcing the Winner of the 2019 Italian Prose in Translation Award: The Eight Mountains

November 8, 2019—The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) is pleased to announce the winner of the 2019 Italian Prose in Translation Award (IPTA Starting in 2015, the Italian Prose in Translation Award (IPTA) recognizes the importance of contemporary Italian prose (fiction and literary non-fiction) and promotes the translation of Italian works into English. This prize is awarded annually to a translator of a recent work of Italian prose (fiction or literary non-fiction). This year’s judges are Allison Grimaldi-Donahue, Alta L. Price, and Zakiya Hanafi.

This year’s winner was awarded at the ALTA’s 42nd annual conference, Sight and Sound, held this year at the Joseph A. Floreano Riverside Convention Center and the Hyatt Regency Rochester in Rochester, NY. The award was presented by 2019 judge Allison Grimaldi-Donahue. As this year’s winners could not be in attendance, the award was accepted on their behalf by former IPTA winner Elizabeth Harris. The winners will be awarded a $5,000 prize.

Winner: 2019 Italian Prose in Translation Award

Eight-mountainsThe Eight Mountains
By Paolo Cognetti
Translated from the Italian by Simon Carnell and Erica Segre
(Atria Publishing Group & Harvill Secker)

The judges had the following to say about this title:

Short-story writer Paolo Cognetti’s first novel—a meditation on the deeper meanings of friendship and family—has become an instant international classic in 38 languages, and for good reason. Probing the themes of male friendship and father-son relations, it casts the mountains in the role of a teacher whose lessons are taught through the challenging, exhilarating and often devastating ascents and descents of life. The characters, so tied to the Italian alps in which they live, are brought to life through gentle description and precise dialogue. Cognetti has described his creative process as “writing from truth,” “like a painter with a palette” as he walks the alpine landscapes, kneading his experience of the land and its natural seasons into words. To do this, he has had to learn a whole new vocabulary from his mountain friends that “the Italian of the plains” does not possess—words in dialect injected into the narrative that create a sort of otherworldliness, “as if it were a foreign language.” Poet Simon Carnell and writer Erica Segre capture this foreignness with serenity in their translation, soothingly transforming his lyrical descriptions into a lilting, cascading English. Like the author himself, we come to understand the title’s meaning only as the story unfolds and the horizon opens up onto the next peak, folding the past back onto itself and revealing the aching rewards of nostalgia. This novel asks questions of class, education, generational differences, and the ways in which friendships can move with time, portraying the varied kinds of love the human condition allows us to experience.

Erica Segre

Erica Segre is a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge;  Simon Carnell is a freelance writer and poet. Together they have translated works of fiction, poetry, literary non- fiction and science. Their translations of work by Leonardo Sciascia, Elio Vittorini, Grazia Deledda and others have appeared in The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories (2019) – and of Eugenio Montale, Umberto Saba, Salvatore Quasimodo etc. in numerous magazines, and in The Faber Book of 20th-Century Italian Poems (2004). Their acclaimed translations of three books by the Simon Carnellquantum physicist Carlo Rovelli – Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (2014), Reality is Not What It Seems (2016) and The Order of Time (2018) have each been New York Times and Sunday Times bestsellers. Other works include Giorgio Van Straten’s essay collection In Search of Lost Books (2017), and Paolo Cognetti’s memoir The Wild Boy (2019). Their version of Sibilla Aleramo’s novel A Woman is forthcoming from Penguin Modern Classics, and of Antonio Ereditato’s Ever Smaller: Nature’s Elementary Particles from MIT. Their own works include Carnell’s Hare (Reaktion) and Segre’s Intersected Identities: Strategies of Visualisation in 19th and 20th Century Mexican Culture (Bergahn Books).

The 2020 Italian Prose in Translation Award submissions portal will be opened in January 2020.

 

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Collective Conversations: An Interview with Plüb

Our final collectives questionnaire brings us to the site of this year’s ALTA conference, beautiful Rochester in upstate New Yorkthe home of Plüb, a workshopping group that sprang from the MALTS program at the University of Rochester. Thanks to all the brilliant collectives who took part in this series, and hope to see some of you at the “Collective of Collectives” panel this year!

This month’s questions by Strong Women Soft Power.

plub

First, how did Plüb come to be? And what about the name?

The beginnings of Plüb can be traced back to the fall of 2010, with the inaugural year of the MA in Literary Translation Studies (MALTS) program at the University of Rochester. The first cohort—Andrew Barrett, Emily Davis, Acacia O’Connor, and Kaija Straumanis—wanted to be able to workshop their translations outside the university setting, and to devote more time to one person’s piece. And so Plüb was born. They met weekly at a local restaurant or bar, and over drinks, jokes, and literary innuendos, would workshop the night away. Open Letter’s publisher, Chad W. Post, was an integral part to the workshop group, both in terms of knowledge and experience with translated literature, and in terms of being able to bring in more bodies to the workshopping group. Over the years, the group has come to include current MALTS students, recent MALTS graduates, local (non-student) translators and authors, local literature buffs/scholars, reading enthusiasts, and even visiting authors, translators, etc.

The name “Plüb” was an invention of Emily Davis. It’s a mashup of the words “pub” and “club,” and topped with a pretentious umlaut/dieresis—because why not.

What format do your meetings usually take? How many members or participants?  (It looks like there might be a lot if you’re catering to grad students and people in the MA in Literary Translation Studies at the University of Rochester, as well as other translation-related people in the local community.)  Can you talk a little about your activities?

The workshops are as informal as we can make them be! Meaning, fries and drinks. The MALTS students all have to take a fiction or poetry workshop as part of their degree, and the majority of students in those workshops are not translators. And while the input of creative writing or English/literature majors is helpful and valuable, it was important for us to also have a space where we could talk to other people who were working with a similar set of translation-specific issues or demons. 

We try to meet once a week, and still at some local restaurant or bar. Alcohol is not a necessity, but we always joke to the newcomers that the beauty of doing a workshop over a glass of wine or a beer is that, at the end of the night, if you hated the experience or are upset at the reactions to your piece, you can always tell yourself “Well, they were drinking…” The main goal is to keep it laid back. We have someone other than the translator read the sample out loud, and everyone else is encouraged to chime in as the spirit moves them. Be it with regard to word choice, punctuation choice, awkward structure—we welcome an open format. We think it’s important for translators to not only hear the sample read by someone else, so they get some space, but to also see where and why people are tripping up in the text—and then it’s up to the translator to take or toss the suggestions and comments. To decide whether one person’s hangup is worth rewriting a sentence, and so on. More often than not, there are also plenty of digressive discussions that spin off from the reading of the sample. This is something that may seem rude or indicative of the sample being boring, but in actuality, we believe it’s a good sign because it shows that the text is keeping your readers’ minds moving and churning, if a scene in your sample reminds them of some insane hashtag they saw on Twitter the other day, it means they’re engaged. The worst Plübs (and there have thankfully been only a few) are the ones where the sample is read and met with silence—and not because there’s nothing to be discussed… 

The samples are normally around 3-7 pages long, since we usually don’t make it through everything in the 3ish hours we end up workshopping. We also don’t normally read the samples before Plüb—the sample will be sent out a few hours before we meet, and then read cold at the workshop. It’s a really fun and informative format (if you can even call it a “format”)!

The number of members/participants is different from the number of people who are able to show up any given week. There are probably around 20 people on the email list, but workshops usually get around 6 people on average. We’re not an exclusive group, and always encourage people who are interested to join us.

Can you talk about the relationship between the workshop model and building community?

Keeping the workshop format so informal is key in terms of building community. We don’t want Plüb to be a stodgy, scary thing that people are terrified of coming to, fearing a gauntlet of criticism. The workshop is, as mentioned, a space where you can be with your own kind, as it were, where you can discuss your concerns about a translation as a whole, an idiom, or express your pride in tackling a particularly sticky sentence. We also want the translation students to find value in feedback from non-translators, and want local translators who are not students to share their experiences as published translators, or to join in the experience if they are emerging translators themselves. There’s another level in community-building if you look at how we frequent the same string of places for our workshops. It adds to the sense of ease and togetherness, of family and community. At the very beginning, the first pub we used to always go to grew so accustomed to us reserving the largest table every week that soon enough there was always a “RESERVED FOR THE BOOK PEOPLE” card waiting on it for us when we’d arrive.

More than anything, we want to foster a sense of “we’re all in this together, we’re all on the same side.” Since our regular crowd includes publishers, editors, marketing directors, PhDs, bookstore staff, foreign-language professors, etc., it feels like we’ve achieved that fairly well.

It seems as though the social, educational, and pedagogical purpose of the group is quite strong. Is it mainly an educational, academic type group, part of the MA literary program? What kinds of issues are uppermost in your mind? 

See above. Our purpose is to have a few drinks over snacks and translation samples, and to help our fellow translators with everything and everyone we have at our disposal. Plüb is such a combination of so many different facets—social, educational, pedagogical—and it feels important to emphasize that literary translation itself is equally multifaceted. We don’t focus on any specific issues at large, but take things one sample at a time. We are a living, breathing resource, a wealth of experiences and interpretations, a walking sand-trap of some of the best double-entendres you’ll ever hear. We love to find the humor in translation (where appropriate), and to diffuse any myths about this having to be a purely deadpan and tight-fisted, no-funny-business line of work. It is enjoyable and rewarding!

How do you interact with your community otherwise? Who are you interested in reaching?

We make sure to let anyone who may seem interested about the email list so they can find out about upcoming Plüb meet-ups or local readings or literary events. There’s a lot of cross-pollination between the universities and colleges in the area among our members, and there’s always someone we meet somewhere who is interested in joining in when they can. Sometimes members even bring their relatives who happen to be visiting Rochester at the time.

Do you have plans to hold any public events? Or do you envisage any other activities for the group?

No current plans for public events, though as mentioned Plüb is open to the community. As for activities… It could be interesting to set up readings at one of the local reading-friendly coffee shops or bars, to feature the works-in-progress of our members. It could also be interesting to get more outreach in the area colleges and universities—less to spread the word about Plüb and more to spread the word about literary translation as a profession.

Considering your relationship with UofR, the connection with Open Letter Books seems obvious, but do you also develop relationships with other publishers?

There are no strict connections or relationships between Plüb as a group and other publishers besides Open Letter, but a lot of our members have interned with Open Letter or other local publishers (like BOA Editions), or have interned with publishers outside of Rochester (like New Directions or Coffee House Press). Though the members of Plüb are great resources for connections in the translation and publishing worlds, our workshops are more workshop and less networking.

How do you see Plüb’s mission in the future?

More life, less gloss.*

 

*A line from a sample translation of Serzh Brusov’s Give Me Back My 2007, translated from the Russian by current MALTS student Polina Korytina

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