August 14, 2017— The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) is delighted to announce the 3-title shortlist for the 2017 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize. Lucien Stryk was an internationally acclaimed translator of Japanese and Chinese Zen poetry, renowned Zen poet himself, and former professor of English at Northern Illinois University. The Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize recognizes the importance of Asian translation for international literature and promotes the translation of Asian works into English. This year’s judges are Eleanor Goodman, Kendall Heitzman, and Aditi Machado.
The award-winning book and translator for 2017 will receive a $5,000 cash prize, and the award will be announced during ALTA’s annual conference, ALTA40: Reflections/Refractions, held this year at the Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown in Minneapolis, MN from October 5-8, 2017. If you can’t join us in person, follow our Twitter (@LitTranslate) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/literarytranslators) for the announcement of the winners!
The 2017 Lucien Stryk Shortlist (in alphabetical order by title):
Cheer Up: Femme Fatale
By Kim Yideum
Translated from the Korean by Ji Yoon Lee, Don Mee Choi, and Johannes Göransson
The question isn’t, Kim Yideum appears to say, “what’s real?”—it’s “what’s present?” And what’s present is everything: flowers, fetuses, phantasms, time, trash, and history. In Kim’s poems, the erasures (of war, occupation, exploitation, political murders) and the scrubbed efficiencies of contemporary South Korea get filled up and haunted by rank matters, recalcitrant ghosts. Her canny translators treat this plenum as the site of glorious excess: Ji yoon Lee, Don Mee Choi, and Johannes Göransson’s English makes this book buzz with pleasures, terrors, and anxieties. Their tools are narrative verve, incantatory force, and a generous reception of the strange. In the absence of absence, we’re made to (re)cognize a world we can’t transcend: “Instead we’ll be swallowed up … we’ll be earnestly consumed.”
By Oh Sae-young
Translated from the Korean by Brother Anthony of Taizé
Oh Sae-young writes nature poetry and politically engaged poetry–often at the same time. His elegy for a landscape that has been irretrievably altered at the hands of humans elides with one for the people who have been damaged by the onslaught of industrialization and globalization as much as the land around them. An unpicked gourd after a frost is a businessman dangling from a rope in his office after a similar freeze in the stock market, a disposable paper cup is a laid-off worker, and a protester on a crane the last leaf on a tree. A translator might be tempted to smooth over these blunt metaphors in parts of the work, but Brother Anthony does not flinch from the unvarnished comparisons, and his direct, simple language reveals its power in more complicated passages where this valorized nature can only be described in terms of the civilization displacing it, as when a farmer’s irrigation canals are described in terms of an electrical grid, or a meandering waterway in spring becomes writing itself.
Not Written Words
By Xi Xi
Translated from the Chinese by Jennifer Feeley
Jennifer Feeley’s superb translation captures all of the creativity, intellect, and playfulness in the verse of premier Hong Kong poet Xi Xi. In these skillfully wrought and daring poems, Feeley employs all the tools of the English language, including unforced end and internal rhyme, alliteration, wordplay, and references that run the gamut from nursery rhymes and fairy tales to fine art to contemporary politics. In deceptively lighthearted poems such as “Excerpt from a Feminist Dictionary,” the verse rings as powerfully in the English as it does in the original Chinese. This translation is essential reading, providing a window into the rich literature of Hong Kong and the larger Sinophone world.