The Lucien Stryk Prize, awarded annually, recognizes the best translation into English of book-length texts of Asian poetry or Zen Buddhism. Founded in 2010 and named for the renowned poet and translator Lucien Stryk, the award is given at the American Literary Translators Association conference. This year, the association was pleased to give the award to translator Jonathan Chaves for his book Every Rock a Universe—The Yellow Mountains and Chinese Travel Writing (Floating World Editions, 2013). The judges for this year’s Stryk Prize were Jonathan Stalling, Janet Kim Ha and Rainer Schulte.
The Yellow Mountains (Huangshan) of China’s Anhui Province have been famous for centuries as a place of scenic beauty and inspiration, and remain a hugely popular tourist destination today. A “golden age” of Yellow Mountains travel came in the seventeenth century, when they became a refuge for loyalists protesting the new Qing Dynasty, among them poet and artist Wang Hongdu (1646–1721/1722), who dedicated himself to traveling to each and every peak and site and recording his impressions. Unfortunately, his resulting masterpiece of Chinese travel writing was not printed until 1775 and has since remained obscure and available only in Chinese.
Jonathan Chaves is professor of Chinese in the Department of East Asian Languages & Literatures at The George Washington University. A published original poet and renowned translator and scholar of Chinese poetry, his work has been nominated for the National Book Award in the translation category.
He accepted the Stryk Prize at the 37th annual American Literary Translators Association conference, where he read from the book. Video from the reading will be available through ALTA in the coming months.