David Hinton for his translation from the Chinese of The Selected Poems of Wang Wei (New Directions) by Wang Wei

The PEN Award for Poetry in Translation recognizes book-length translations of poetry from any language into English published in the previous calendar year and is judged by a single translator of poetry appointed by the PEN Translation Committee. Past honorees include Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld for their co-translation of Open Closed Open by Yehuda Amichai; Anne Twitty for her translation of Maria Negroní’s Islandia; Pierre Joris for his translation of Lightduress by Paul Celan; and Wilson Baldridge for his translation of Recumbents by Michel Deguy.

2007 Judge

Peter Cole

From the Judges’ Citation

Though some of the 20th century’s finest translator poets have gone before him, David Hinton has managed to find his own way through the rivers and mountains of medieval Chinese verse, re-imagining the poems themselves as subtle soundscapes suspended in us. Hinton’s accomplishment is quiet but clear: His translations of Wang Wei yield the gentlest pleasure in the mouth when read aloud, echoing that fusion of essence and sense, being and nonbeing that lies at the heart of the understanding from which these poems emerge. It is as though his prosody were modeled on the visual analogue of the period’s painting, where men hover in tenuous balance between presence and absence in nature.”


James Reidel
for his translation from the German of In Hora Mortis/Under the Iron of the Moon: Poems by Thomas Bernhard (Princeton University Press)

Paul Schmidt
for his translation from the Russian of The Stray Dog Cabaret: A Book of Russian Poems by Various Authors (NYRB Classics)