October 15, 2020—The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) is pleased to announce the winner of the 2020 National Translation Award (NTA) in Poetry! 2020 marks the twenty-second year for the NTA, and the sixth 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 Ilya Kaminsky, Lisa Katz, and Farid Matuk.
This year’s winner was awarded at the ALTA’s 43rd annual conference, In Between, the first ALTA conference to be held virtually. The ceremony included a focus on the 2020 shortlist, presented by judge Lisa Katz, and the winners were featured in conversation with judge Farid Matuk. The announcement was made on October 15, 2020 on the ALTA virtual conference platform Crowdcast, and is viewable there through 2020, and will be viewable after that at the ALTA YouTube channel. The winners will be awarded a $2,500 prize.
Winner: 2020 National Translation Award in Poetry
by Kim Yideum
translated from Korean by Jake Levine, Soeun Seo, and Hedgie Choi
One of the co-translators of this good-humored and confrontational book notes in his afterword that the style of Korean poet Kim Yideum is “intentionally excessive . . . and irrational.” Her speaker is a hipster who makes brash statements about quotidian experiences that may occur in any crowded city. In the title poem, a woman being groped on the subway imagines her revenge: “I want to kill the motherfucker. . . . If only I could go to the sandy beach on the red coast, moonlit. There, beside the cool waters, I would lay him down. If only.” Yideum turns her glance on her specifically Korean milieu as well. An intriguing, illuminating volume.
Jake Levine is an American translator, poet, and scholar. He works as an assistant professor of creative writing at Keimyung University and as a lecturer at the Literature Translation Institute of Korea. He edits the Korean poetry series Moon Country at Black Ocean. Previously he served as the editor-in-chief of Sonora Review, as the poetry editor of Spork Press, and as an assistant editor at Acta Koreana. His co-translation with Soeun Seo of Kim Minjeong’s Beautiful and Useless (Black Ocean) and a book he edited and co-translated, The Poems of Hwang Yuwon, Ha Jaeyoun, and Seo Dae-kyung (Vagabond Press) will both be out this fall. You can find him at http://jakelevine.org
Soeun Seo is a poet and translator from South Korea and a current fellow at the Michener Center for Writers. They co-translated Kim Yideum’s Hysteria (Action Books, 2019) and is currently co-translating Kim Min Jeong’s Beautiful and Useless which will be coming out in October 2020 with Black Ocean.
Hedgie Choi is a fellow at the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, Texas.
The 2021 National Translation Award in Poetry submissions portal will be opened in January 2021.