Rosmarie Waldrop for her translation from the German of Lingos I-IX (Burning Deck Press) by Ulf Stolterfoht

The PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000) 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 translation of Open Closed Open by Yehuda Amichai; Anne Twitty for her translation of María Negroni’s Islandia; Pierre Joris for his translation of Lightduress by Paul Celan; and Wilson Baldridge for his translation of Recumbents by Michel Deguy.

The PEN Award for Poetry in Translation was originally made possible by a bequest from the late translator and PEN Member Rae Dalven and currently receives support from the Kaplen Foundation. The award complements the PEN Translation Prize, which was founded in 1963 through the efforts of the PEN Translation Committee, and was the first American award to honor the art of the literary translator.

2008 Judge

Marilyn Hacker

From the Judges’ Citation

“The first test of a book of poems in translation is, of course, how convincingly the poems exist as poems in the receptor language. Waldrop has succeeded in re-creating, and thus creating, a poetry in English that is at once exuberantly postmodern and in lively dialogue with such unabashedly lyrical, often satirical English language innovators as Hopkins, e. e. cummings, Dylan Thomas, Ashbery (imagine mentioning them in the same sentence!), and younger poets like Karen Volkman and Dan Beachy-Quick. Waldrop’s rendering and concise explanation of Stolterfoht’s wide-ranging cultural and literary references is discreet and magisterial. There is wit, cultural and political satire; there are barbed non sequiturs, but all playing against a metrical/lexical virtuosity that obviously attracted and delighted the poet-translator in the original, which she has transposed with dazzling sleight-of-mind into English.”


Fady Joudah for his translation from the Arabic of The Butterfly’s Burden by Mahmoud Darwish (Copper Canyon Press)

Elizabeth Macklin for her translation from the Basque of Meanwhile Take My Hand by Kirmen Uribe (Graywolf Press)