The NTA Countdown to ALTA44: Unexpected Vanilla

Join us as we count down to the ALTA44: Inflection Points awards ceremony with the National Translation Award in Poetry and Prose longlisted titles! We will be featuring the titles in alphabetical order alongside blurbs penned by our judges for the National Translation Awards in Poetry and Prose. This year’s prose judges are Jennifer Croft, Anton Hur, and Annie Janusch. This year’s judges for poetry are Sinan Antoon, Layla Benitez-James, and Sibelan Forrester.

The winning translators will receive a $2,500 cash prize each. The awards will be announced at ALTA’s annual conference, ALTA44: Inflection Points, which this year is being held jointly online and in-person in Tucson, AZ. The virtual awards ceremony will be aired on Saturday, October 16, at 5:00pm PT. To attend, register via the virtual conference platform (there is also a free ticket option that includes public events like this one.)

Join us as we shine the spotlight today on this NTA longlisted title, along with a citation penned by the judges:

Unexpected Vanilla
By Lee Hyemi
Translated from Korean by Soje
(Tilted Axis Press)

There is a liquid flow to the images and ideas running through Lee Hyemi’s Unexpected Vanilla, making for a hypnotic and addicting read. In Soje’s skillful translation, Hyemi’s sometimes prosy poems hold an unexpected magic as love, desire, and surreal images spark together on the page. Unfolding a strangely surrealist poetics, the answers posed in these poems draw deeply, queerly spiritual answers from the reader. This cosmos of shifting images rewards rereading, as speakers and subjects of the poems embody roots and plants and water and begin to grow and melt into each other. This is a singular work which builds a seductive world. 

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