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
Pan Tadeusz: The Last Foray in Lithuania
by Adam Mickiewicz
translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston
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 Award, 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.
Bravo Bill, bravo Jill!
Adam Mickiewicz is “Fryderik Chopen” of Polish poetry. One expressed his love and longing for Poland in written word and the other through music. Pan Tadeusz is a National Treasure known to every Polish person. It’s beautiful in Polish language, so I can’t wait to get my hands on its English translation!