Poetry in Translation Reading List book covers

To celebrate National Poetry Month, we invite you to read the collections from the 2020 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation Longlist. Selected by judges Michael Eskin, Forrest Gander, and Pierre Joris, these collections remind us that in times of crisis, poetry has the power to cross borders to unite and uplift us.

Forrest Gander, a writer and translator whose 2018 collection Be With (Hudson, IndieBound) won the Pulitzer Prize, says:

Yes, it was Nezahualcóyotl, the poet-philosopher-ruler of the Nahuan people in pre-Columbian Mexico, who warned us that “like a cape made from the feathers of a zacuan, / that rare, rubbernecked bird, / we start to come apart / the moment we leave the house.” But housebound as so many of us are now—and inside a reality that seems filled entirely with the feeling of unreality, like an ocean filled with withdrawal—I wonder if some of us can stake claim to this moment as an opportunity for restoration. It’s a rich time for traveling across borders in our minds, for taking literary translations as our field guides, for tapping into imaginations that expand our experience of what it means to be human, among others, connected by a common plight. As we always have been, even when we didn’t notice. Now we might ask translation to bring us closer.