This year’s award goes to Marilyn Hacker for her translation from the French of King of a Hundred Horsemen by Marie Étienne (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

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.

The PEN Award for Poetry in Translation award was made possible originally by a bequest from the late translator and PEN member Rae Dalven, and has currently receives support from The Kaplen Foundation. The award complements the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club 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.

2009 Judge

Lawrence Venuti

From the Judges’ Citation

“Marilyn Hacker’s project is distinguished by its utter foreignness. Her very choice of Marie Étienne’s work jumps the worn grooves of association for Anglophone readers: King of a Hundred Horsemen avoids the telegraphic speculation we have come to expect from contemporary French poets and instead cultivates a hybrid lyricism, rooted in autobiography yet oblique and fragmentary, synthesizing lived experience and literary allusion, truncated narrative and gnomic utterance, shifting between voices and genders. Hacker’s rendering keeps pace with Étienne’s metamorphic French, finding analogous registers and styles. But she also exploits the heterogeneous resources of English to release a stream of surprising effects, each verbal choice becoming an interpretive move that captures and enriches its French counterpart. Glancing across the page, we realize we are in the hands of an accomplished and tactful translator who knows when to add a clarifying word or to contract the phrasing into a staccato terseness. This translation inspires the adventurous reader to embark on a deep engagement with Étienne’s demanding poetry.”


Randall Couch for his translation from the Spanish of Madwomen by Gabriela Mistral (The University of Chicago Press)
Forrest Gander for his translation of Firefly Under the Tongue: Selected Poems by Coral Bracho (New Directions

Past Winners

David Hinton for his translation of The Selected Poems of Wang Wei; 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