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: 2020
Honoring books published in 2019.
Submissions: June 1, 2019 – August 15, 2019
Longlists Announced: December 2019
Shortlists Announced: January 2020
Awards Ceremony: March 2020
Featured Honoree: Richard Sieburth, 2019 Winner
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.
2019 Richard Sieburth for his translation from the French of A Certain Plume by Henri Michaux (NYRB)
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)
Submissions for the 2021 cycle will be open June 1, 2020 — August 15, 2020.
- Eligible titles must be original book-length poetry translations published between January 1, 2019, and December 31, 2019, 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.
- Prose (nonfiction or fiction)
- Self-published books
- Retranslations, unless the work can be said to provide a significant revision of the original translation.
- Books with more than two translators
- PEN America 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. 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 here.
- 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; 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, galley, or bound manuscript to the below address during the open submission period.
PEN Poetry in Translation Prize
588 Broadway, Suite 303
New York, NY 10012
- Once the submitted book is received and reviewed for eligibility, [email protected] requests a copy to be shipped to the judges.
* 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 2020 PEN America Awards; you do not need to submit a separate fee waiver for each award.