FY 2009 Grant Awards: Literature Fellowships for Translation Projects
Some details of the projects listed below are subject to change, contingent upon prior
The amount of the awards is pending Congressional approval of the NEA's FY 2009 budget.
To support the translation from Japanese of the memoir Twelve Perspectives by Mutsuo Takahashi. Published in the author's native language in 1970, Twelve Perspectives explores the effects of imperialism, war, and their aftermath on a Japanese family before, during, and after World War II. Takahashi (b. 1937), a prominent poet, tells of his fatherless, poverty-stricken boyhood in this lyrical coming-of-age work about life on the island of Kyushu. Takahashi has published traditional Japanese poetic forms such as haiku, free verse, novels, plays, criticism, and a libretto. In February 2008, he gave a public discussion of tanka poetry at the Kennedy Center.
Jeffrey Angles received a doctoral research grant from the Japanese Ministry of Education and completed his doctorate at the Ohio State University. He is a professor of Japanese literature and language at Western Michigan University.
To support the translation from French of In So Corrupt an Age, the journal of Charles Rist. A successful economist living in Paris, Rist (1874-1955) began keeping a personal journal in 1939, the day after Germany's invasion of Poland. The daily entries record his reflections on the war and occupation. The journal bears witness to events of national and international importance, but also traces the more personal dealings of Rist's family and friends. Written in the self-reflective tradition of Montaigne, the 470-page journal ends in 1945, with the author's reaction to the Nuremberg trials.
Michele Aynesworth received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from the University of Texas at Austin. She has also translated the novel Mad Toy by Argentine writer Roberto Arlt. She is a professor at Huston-Tillotson University.
Santa Barbara, CA
To support the translation from Chinese of the novel Remains of Life by Wu He. The novel, written in 1999, describes a bloody episode in Japanese colonial history, the "Musha Incident." In 1930, an aboriginal tribe called the Atayal started an uprising in rural Taiwan that was swiftly suppressed by the Japanese militia. The novel is written in an experimental style which includes stream-of-consciousness writing and very few sentence breaks or paragraph divisions. It is also written in several languages: Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, and the Atayal dialect. The Taiwanese writer Chen Guocheng was born in Tainan in 1951; he is best known by his pen-name Wu He, or "Dancing Crane." His novels include Chaos and Confusion and Ghost and Goblin.
Michael Berry is a professor of Chinese cultural studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He received his doctoral degree in Chinese literature and film from Columbia University. He has also translated Yu Hua's To Live and Chang Ta-chun's Wild Kids: Two Novels about Growing Up.
To support the translation from Polish of selected poetry from The New Century: 1999 & Other Poems by Ewa Lipska. Ewa Lipska was born in Kraków, Poland, in 1945. Since 1967, she has published 19 volumes of poetry, much of which reflects her training as a visual artist and her engagement with social philosophy. This project will cull from her most recent collections – 1999, Pet Shops, Somewhere Else, Splinter, and Newton's Orange – all of which were influenced by her close friendships with Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska and recently deceased Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal.
Robin Davidson's translations of Lipska's poems have appeared in such journals as 91st Meridian, AGNI, Quarterly West, and Words Without Borders. She received her doctorate in creative writing from the University of Houston. She lived in Poland during the 2003-2004 academic year as a Fulbright Scholar, and is currently a professor of English at the University of Houston-Downtown. Her collaborator is Ewa Elzbieta Nowakowska, a translator and native Polish speaker.
To support the translation from Spanish of An Open Grave and Other Stories, a collection of five novellas by Juan Benet. Juan Benet (1927-1993) was born nine years before the eruption of the Spanish Civil war, during which his father was killed by an anarchist execution squad. Coming of age in a time of fascist repression, Benet joined the intellectual resistance to Franco's regime. He earned his living as a civil engineer, but tirelessly insisted on the autonomous power of literature, publishing ten novels that reflect his experiences. In addition to the title novella about a boy possessed by the spirit of his grandfather, the collection will include "Baalbec, a smudge," about a man's return to his childhood home; "Mourning," about a Spaniard who has returned wealthy from years in the Americas with a lack of scruples; "Sub rosa," about a mysterious crime aboard a Spanish schooner; and "Numa, a Legend," about a guard of an isolated mountain property. Of these five works, only two have previously been published in an English translation.
Stephen Gingerich is a professor of Spanish at Cleveland State University. His translations include selected pieces by José Lezama Lima, Cintio Vitier, and Juan Benet. He received his doctorate in Comparative Literature from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Mount Vernon, OH
To support the translation from Spanish of the collection The Poems of Sidney West by the Argentine poet Juan Gelman. The author of the collection is an imaginary poet, Sidney West, who writes his work in English and who was supposedly translated into Spanish by Juan Gelman in 1969. In truth, Gelman is the author of the collection and West's inventor. This literary conceit is matched by the style of the poems, which are considered avant-garde in their use of narrative structure, characterization, and literary context. Juan Gelman was born in Buenos Aires in 1930. He has written more than twenty books of poetry, and his work has been translated into fourteen languages. His honors include the Argentine National Poetry Prize, the Pablo Neruda Prize, and the Cervantes Prize.
Katherine Hedeen is a Professor of Spanish at Kenyon College in Ohio. She received her doctorate in Hispanic literature from the University of Texas at Austin. Her fellow collaborator Victor Rodriguez Nunez has published eleven books of poetry, and is also a Professor of Spanish at Kenyon College.
To support the translation from Czech of Is No Beginning: Selected Poems by Vladimir Holan. A life-long resident of Prague, Holan is often compared with Rainer Maria Rilke as a major figure in 20th-century European poetry. His poems embody the existential questions posed by cultural and political life in Czechoslovakia before, during, and after WWII. Although Holan is widely published in more than a dozen languages, the poems of this collection are previously unpublished in English; together, they represent a treasure of Holan's mid-career work, written during a challenging and prolific period from the late 1940s to the early 1960s when Holan was silenced by the Communist regime. These short, lyric poems found critical acclaim once they were released as Nameless and Advancing. Holan has received numerous awards including the Etna Taormina Award and the Belgian Grand Prix International de Poesie; he was also named the National Artist of Czechoslovakia in 1968.
Josef Horacek has previously translated work from the Czech by Vitezslav Nezval, Karel Hlavacek, and Vladimir Holan. In 2000, he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship along with Lara Glenum. Co translator of Holan's Is No Beginning, Glenum is the author of The Hounds of No and Maximum Gaga.
New York, NY
To support the translation from Portuguese of In the Time of Jaguars, a collection of poetry by Brazilian poet Manoel de Barros. A beloved poet in Brazil, Barros has published twenty works of poetry, though his work is not yet available in English. His sensual poems gained much attention in the 1980s with numerous publications in Brazil and in 1989 with the release of O Caramujo Flor, a film by Joel Pizzini examining his work. In the Time of Jaguars will focus on Barros' last ten books of poetry, which are highly regarded, as well as a selection of his earlier work such as Expository Grammar from the Ground. Among the most distinctive voices speaking for rural life and rural poverty in Portuguese and perhaps in the world, Barros has twice received Brazil's highest award for poetry, the Jabuti Award, along with the Paulista Association of the Art Critics Poety Prize, the Nestle Poetry Prize, and the Brazilian Ministry of Culture's Cecelia Meireles Prize.
Idra Novey won a PEN Translation Fund Award and soon after published a book of translations of the Brazilian poet Paulo Henriques Britto. She received her M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia University. She has published her own books of poetry as well, including her latest work, The Next Country.
New York, NY
To support the translation from Spanish of the play Common Words by Cuban dramatist José Triana. Common Words, the seventh of Triana's thirteen plays, is an exploration of one woman's life in Cuba in the years between the Spanish-American War and the First World War. Triana's plays have been produced for the stage since the early 1960s and include the internationally acclaimed The Night of the Assassins, which was staged in New York and Paris, and in London by the Royal Shakespeare Company. The RSC later produced an adaptation of Common Words; however, Triana found the official translation unacceptable and barred it from being staged or printed. An award-winning playwright who authored his first play while a student at the University of Madrid, Triana is also the author of a collection of short stories and five books of poetry.
Joanne Pottlitzer founded the Theatre of Latin America, a nonprofit organization that fosters artistic exchange between the United States and Latin America. She received her M.A. degree in Spanish from Middlebury College. She has been producing and translating plays since 1970 and was asked by José Triana to translate Common Words.
To support the translation from German of Franz Werfel's 1941 novel A Pale Blue Lady's Handwriting. Born in Prague, Werfel (1890-1945) was a member of the city's young, Jewish intelligentsia, which included Max Brod and Franz Kafka. Werfel later moved to Vienna where he was a fixture in the café society until 1938 when he fled to France following Austria's unification with Germany. Though Werfel is most widely known for his bestselling novel The Song of Bernadette, which was made into a film in 1943, A Pale Blue Lady's Handwriting is enjoying a revival in Germany and Austria where it is often read in high schools. Set in Vienna in 1936, the novel revolves around a married, Austrian civil servant who receives a letter from a Jewish woman who was once his lover. Though a "sanitized" and condensed version of the novel was published in 1944, this is the first translation of the complete work.
James Reidel has translated the poetry of Thomas Bernhard, Ingeborg Bachmann and Franz Werfel. He received his M.A. in English from Rutgers University. His own poems have appeared in The New Yorker, TriQuarterly, Ploughshares, and The Paris Review.
To support the translation from Polish of Colonies, a collection of poetry by Tomasz Rózycki. Rózycki was born in 1970 in Upper Silesia, an historic region on the western border of Poland marked by a continual shift of the country's borders and thus a topic that permeates his poetry. Published in 2006, Colonies is Ró?ycki's sixth and most recent book of poems. He is the recipient of the Krzysztof Kamiel Baczynski Prize, the Joseph Brodski Prize from Zeszyty Literackie, and an award from Geneva's Koscielski Foundation for his epic-length book of poetry Twelve Stations. The publication of Colonies, which was shortlisted for the Nike Prize (Poland's equivalent to the Pulitzer Prize) solidified Rózycki's standing as a leading poet of Poland's younger generation.
Mira Rosenthal is a poet whose work has appeared in Best of the Midwest, the Beloit Poetry Journal, Ploughshares, and The American Poetry Review. She received her M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Houston. She has also translated The Forgotten Keys by Thomasz Rózycki.
Stallings, A. E.
To support the translation from medieval Cretan Greek of the Erotokritos by Vintzentzos Kornaros. The 10,000-line long poem is written in a 15 syllable folk meter and dates from the 17th century. It is the only known work of the author; until recently, sections of the poem were commonly recited by illiterate peasants. It is still performed by Greek singers, and is widely considered the work that made the vernacular popular and possible in contemporary Greek literature. The poem is based upon the French prose romance, Paris and Vienne. Vintzentzos Kornaros (1553-1617) was a Venetian-Cretan aristocrat born in Crete. He later moved to Candia, where he joined the Accademia dei Stravaganti. He was educated formally not in Greek but in Italian.
A. E. Stallings studied ancient Greek at the University of Georgia and Oxford University. She has translated De rerum natura by Lucretius for the Penguin Classics, and won numerous awards for her own poetry, including the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Prize and the Richard Wilbur Award. Her poetry books include Archaic Smile and Hapax.
To support the translation from Spanish of Rafael Alberti's three-part volume of poems, Returnings. Born in southern Spain in 1902, Alberti won the National Prize for Literature at age 23 and soon joined a circle of poets called the Generation of '27, which included Federico García Lorca. During the Spanish Civil War, Alberti served as secretary of the Alliance of Antifascist Intellectuals, and fled first to Paris, then Buenos Aires after the war. In Returnings, Alberti includes poems in which thoughts of the poet's youth return to him alongside more recent memories.
Carolyn Tipton received her M.A. in English from Stanford University, and her doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley. Her translation of To Painting: Poems by Rafael Alberti won the American Literary Translators Association National Translation Award. The book was also a finalist for the P.E.N. West Award in Literary Translation, and was chosen by Poet Laureate Robert Hass for his "Poet's Choice" column in the Washington Post Book World.
Total Literature Fellowships Awarded: 13
Total Literature Fellowship Dollars Awarded: $200,000
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