Founded in 1996, the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation recognizes book-length translations of poetry from any language into English published during the current calendar year. The award confers a $3,000 prize on the author of the winning book.
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@example.com. For more information, please visit our FAQ page.
Submissions for the 2021 Cycle will be open June 15–August 15, 2020. Submit here.
Honoring books published in 2019.
JUDGES: Michael Eskin, Forrest Gander, Pierre Joris
Featured Winners: Kristin Dykstra and Nancy Gates Madsen
From the judges’ citation: “In jagged, fresh-cut, emotive rhythms, and in a lexicon sourced from science, domestic relations, and literature, Reina María Rodríguez creates a poetry of attentiveness so immediate that no sooner does it express itself, than it is subject to revision and qualification. Through the sensuality of her diction and the abruptive but musical pulse of her syntax, Rodríguez takes up the Wittgensteinian directive to look and see a world that, as the poet puts it, ‘fits into the eyes of the cat.’ The Winter Garden Photograph is as much discursive meditation on memory as it is a riveting embodiment of insight and intuition, and a declaration of love for the great surprising variety of the world. Almost impossibly, the translators negotiate the definitive peculiarities of Rodríguez’s unique phrasing with inspired English versions that neither normalize, dumb-down, nor exoticize the magic of the originals.”
2006 Wilson Baldridge, Recumbents by Michel Deguy (Wesleyan Poetry Series)
2005 Pierre Joris, Lightduress by Paul Celan (Green Integer)
2004 Peter Cole, J’Accuse by Aharon Shabtal (New Directions)
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)
Who is Eligible:
- Eligible titles must be original book-length poetry translations, by a single original author, published between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, by a U.S. trade publisher.
- Translators may be of any nationality. U.S. residency or citizenship is not required.
- Books may have no more than two translators.
- If you submit a book for this award, you may not submit it for any additional PEN America Literary Awards, with the exception of the PEN Open Book Award. Please note that the PEN/Faulkner Award is not considered a PEN America Literary Award.
- Prose (nonfiction or fiction).
- Self-published books.
- Reprints or retranslations, unless the work can be said to provide a significant revision of the original translation.
- Books with more than two translators.
- Translations-in-progress are not accepted; to submit a translation-in-progress, please see the PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants.
Submissions for the 2021 awards will be accepted from June 15, 2020 through August 15, 2020.
- PEN America will only accept submissions from publishers or literary agents. Authors may not submit their own book for this award.
- On the submissions page, please select the award you are submitting to.
- Please submit verified email addresses on the submission form. Your order cannot be processed without an email address, and this information will be used to later contact you regarding your submission.
- Upload a PDF file of the galley or final manuscript on the book submissions page. Due to health concerns surrounding COVID-19, 2021 book award submissions will only be read digitally as PDF files. Each book file will be kept confidentially between the PEN America Literary Awards team and the applicable Awards judges. Please note that if a book is longlisted, PEN America may request a physical copy be sent to the judging panel.
- Upload a high-resolution book jacket photo. This may be used later if the book is longlisted, a finalist, or a winner.
- Please download the declaration of eligibility. Complete all fields and have the editor or publisher sign to confirm the book’s eligibility. Please upload this document along with the rest of your application on the submissions page.
- Each submission is $85*. Please note that due to health concerns surrounding COVID-19, we are asking that all submissions payments be made via credit card. Submission fees are not refundable.
- Once the submitted book is received and reviewed for eligibility by PEN America, it will be passed along to the judges. Please add firstname.lastname@example.org to your address book, as it will be the main point of contact from PEN America.
*Submission fees may be waived for publishers whose annual net sales are less than $2 million. In order to have your dues 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@example.com. 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 2021 PEN America Awards; you do not need to submit a separate fee waiver for each award.