PEN America Literary Awards Poetry in Translation

Founded in 1996, the $3,000 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation recognizes book-length translations of poetry from any language into English published during the current calendar year. The prize was on hiatus in 2018.

All winners and finalists for this award are eligible to receive PEN America’s official winner or finalist seal. If you are a publisher of a shortlisted or winning book for this award and are interested in obtaining PEN’s award seal, please write to [email protected].

Current Cycle: 2019

Honoring books published in 2018.

Submissions: June-August 2018
Judges Announced: December 2018
Longlists Announced: December 2018
Shortlists Announced: January 2019
Awards Ceremony: Watch the Livestream

2019 Finalists

2019 Finalists for the PEN Poetry In Translation Prize

Featured Honoree: Richard Sieburth, 2019 Winner

A Certain Plume by Henri Michaux

Richard Sieburth

A Certain Plume by Henri Michaux (NYRB)
translated from the French by Richard Sieburth

Hudson Booksellers | IndieBound

Judges: Sinan Antoon, Ewa Chrusciel, Peter Filkins, Katrine Øgaard Jensen

From the judges’ citation: “Among many very fine translations the judges had the pleasure to consider, Richard Sieburth’s translation of Henri Michaux’s A Certain Plume stood out for its careful handling of tone and colloquial register in the deft navigation of the uncanny. Like Chaplin’s Little Tramp and Kafka’s Josef K., Michaux’s Plume stumbles and bungles his way through modern life, only to artfully sustain the dignified poise of the human amid the absurd machinations that seek to consume him. Not only does Sieburth’s translation do justice to Plume’s tightrope act above the abyss, it also restores the original shape of Michaux’s 1930 Un certain Plume, placing it convincingly in the modern pantheon through notes and an excellent afterword. Tone and timing are the chief catalysts of the prose poem, and Richard Sieburth has shown Henri Michaux to be a master of both.”


Honorable Mention: The judges also felt strongly that Karen Kovacik’s translation of Jacek Dehnel’s Aperture deserves a special Honorable Mention for her nimble translations of metrical, rhymed, free verse, and prose poems from the Polish. Dehnel’s sharp eye pierces to the core of contemporary life, laying bare emptiness and ennui like a skilled surgeon. Kovacik proves herself every bit his match in artistry and acumen.



Previous Winners

2019 Richard Sieburth for his translation from the French of A Certain Plume by Henri Michaux (NYRB)

2017 Simon Armitage for his translation from Middle English of Pearl: A New Verse Translation (Liveright/W.W Norton & Company)

2016 Sawako Nakayasu, for her translation from the Japanese of The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa (Canarium Books)

2015 Eliza Griswold, I Am the Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan by Anonymous (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

2014 Karen Emmerich & Edmund Keeley, Diaries of Exile by Yannis Ritsos (Archipelago)

2013 Molly Weigel, The Shock of the Lenders and Other Poems by Jorge Santiago Perednik (Action Books)
Rosa Alcalá, Spit Temple by Cecilia Vicuña
Rosmarie Waldrop, Almost 1 Book/Almost 1 Life by Elfriede Czurda

2012 Jen Hofer, Negro Marfil/ Ivory Black by Myriam Moscona (Les Figues Press)
Susanna Neid, Light, Grass, and Letter in April by Inger Christensen
Mark Ford, New Impressions of Africa by Raymond Roussel

2011 Khaled Mattawa, Adonis: Selected Poems by Adonis and Khaled Mattawa (Yale University Press)
Jonathan Galassi for Canti by Giacomo Leopardi (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Michael Hofmann for Angina Days by Gunter Eich (Princeton University Press)
Charles Simic for Oranges and Snow by Milan Djordjević (Princeton University Press)

2010 Anne Carson, An Orestia by Auschylus, Sophocles, Euripides (Faber & Faber)
Seamus Heaney for his translation from the Scottish of The Testament of Cresseid & Seven Fables by Robert Henryson
Rika Lesser for her translation from the Swedish of Mozart’s Third Brain by Goran Sonnevi

2009 Marilyn Hacker, King of a Hundred Horsemen by Marie Étienne (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
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)

2008 Rosmarie Waldrop, Lingos I-IX by Ulf Stolterfoht (Burning Deck)
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)

2007 David Hinton, The Selected Poems of Wang Wei by Wang Wei (New Directions)
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)

2006 Wilson Baldridge, Recumbents by Michel Deguy (Wesleyan Poetry Series)
Clayton Eshleman, Conductors of the Pit by various authors
Thomas Meyer, Daode Jing by Laozi

2005 Pierre Joris, Lightduress by Paul Celan (Green Integer)
Inger Christensen, Butterfly Valley: A Requiem by Susanna Nied
Jerome Rothenberg, Writing Through: Translations and Variations by Various Authors

2004 Peter Cole, J’Accuse by Aharon Shabtal (New Directions)
Munir Akash and Carolyn Forché with Sinan Antoon and Amira El-Zein (editing and translation), Unfortunately, It Was Paradise by Mahmoud Darwish
Jen Hofer, Sin puertas visibles: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry by Mexican Women
Joshua Beckman and Tomaz Salamun, Poker by Tomaz Salamun, translated by the author

2003 Khaled Mattawa, Without an Alphabet, Without a Face: Selected Poems of Saadi Youssef (Graywolf)

2002 Anne Twitty, Islandia by Maria Negroni (Station Hill)

2001 Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld, Open Closed Open by Yehuda Amicha (Harcourt)

2000 James Brasfield and Oleh Lysheha, The Selected Poems of Oleh Lysheha (Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute)

1999 Richard Zenith, Fernando Pessoa & Co (Grove)

1998 Eamon Grennan, Selected Poems by Giacomo Leopardi (Princeton)

1997 Edward Snow, Uncollected Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

1996 Guy Davenport, editor and translator, 7 Greeks (New Directions)




Submissions for the next awards cycle will be accepted from June 1, 2019 – August 1, 2019.

Who is Eligible
  • Eligible:

    • Eligible titles must be original book-length poetry translations published between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2018, by a U.S. trade publisher.
    • Translators may be of any nationality; U.S. residency or citizenship is not required.
    • Although all eligible books must have been published in the United States, there are no restrictions on the subject matter of translated poetic works.
    • Books must have one or two translators at most.
    • If you submit a book for this award, you may not submit it for any additional PEN America awards. Please note that the PEN/Faulkner is not considered a PEN America award.

    NOT Eligible:

    • Prose (nonfiction or fiction)
    • Self-published books
    • Reprints
    • Retranslations, unless the work can be said to provide a significant revision of the original translation.
    • Books with more than two translators
How to Submit
    • PEN will only accept submissions from publishers or literary agents; authors and translators may not submit their own book for this award.
    • Please download the Declaration of Eligibility here. Complete all fields and have a company executive sign in order to confirm the book’s eligibility. If eligible, please upload this form along with the rest of your application online. If the book does not meet the listed eligibility requirements, it will not be considered for this award.
    • Each submission is $85.* If you would like to pay by check, please click CHECK at checkout. Checks should be made out to PEN America. Please also submit a verified email address on the submission form; your order cannot be processed without an email address, as this info will be used to later contact you regarding the shipments of your submission. Please note that submission fees are not refundable.
    • Mail one copy of the candidate’s book to the address below between June 1 and August 15, 2018. Please note that we accept galleys and bound manuscripts:

    PEN Poetry in Translation Prize
    PEN America
    588 Broadway, Suite 303
    New York, NY 10012

    • Once the submitted book is received and reviewed for eligibility by PEN, you will be contacted by [email protected] by the end of the year and asked to ship one copy of the book to each of our three awards judges. Please add [email protected] to your safe sender list.

    * Submission fees may be waived for publishers whose annual net sales are less than $2 million. In order to have your fees waived, please have a company official write a letter on company letterhead stating that your press’s annual net sales are less than $2 million. Please send this letter as an attachment (.doc or .pdf) to [email protected]. Once received, you will be provided with a coupon code to use at checkout in order to have your submission fees waived. One fee waiver may be used for all 2018 PEN Awards; you do not need to submit a separate fee waiver for each award.