Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize

The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) invites publishers and translators to nominate book-length translations into English of Asian poetry or source texts from (but not commentaries on) Zen Buddhism. Languages eligible are Hindi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. The winning translator will be announced in the fall of each year and receive a $5,000 award.

The Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize, which was inaugurated in 2009, recognizes the importance of Asian translation for international literature and promotes the translation of Asian works into English. Stryk is an internationally acclaimed translator of Japanese and Chinese Zen poetry, renowned Zen poet himself, and former professor of English at Northern Illinois University.

To be eligible for the prize in a given year, works must have been published in the previous calendar year. Submissions will be judged according to the literary significance of the original and the success of the translation in recreating the literary artistry of the original. While the Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize is primarily intended to recognize the translation of contemporary works, retranslations or first-time translations of important older works will also be seriously considered. Publishers or translators should send with each entry a letter of nomination and three copies of the translated work to:

American Literary Translators Association
Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize
c/o The University of Texas at Dallas
School of Arts & Humanities JO51
800 West Campbell Road
Richardson, TX 75080-3021

The deadline for submissions is May 15 every year for works published in the previous calendar year.

For books chosen by the jury as finalists, publishers will be asked to provide the original-language text; any finalist for which no original-language text is provided will be excluded from further consideration.

To learn more about Lucien Stryk visit Poetry Poetry.

For more information, please contact Maria Suarez at

ALTA Links Round-up

Over at ALTAlk, the blog for the American Literary Translators Association, Matt Rowe has posted a Links Round-up of some of the news & articles focusing on translation that have been circulating recently. It’s a great compilation of Events, Readings, Reviews, and more, and includes my review of Zhai Yongming’s 翟永明 Changing Room, translated by Andrea Lingenfelter, Paper Republic‘s Eric Abrahamsen on the ups & downs of Chinese translation, a report from the London Book Fair by Publishing Perspectives on The “gatekeepers” of literary translation, and more. Take a look!

ALTA Write-up

Russian translation magazine Apraksin Blues is hosting James Manteith‘s write-up on last November’s ALTA conference in Kansas City. Manteith writes:

The theme of country’s need for practitioners of the art of translation receives repeated emphasis. Despite America’s activeness on the world stage and the large number of immigrants within its borders, the populace remains ill-informed about the significance and value of other cultures. Literary translation represents one possible means of building respect for human cultural diversity outside the realm of political strategy.

Read the full article here.

Steve Bradbury report on ALTA

On the 17th I posted a link & video about the American Literary Translators Association’s annual convention in Kansas City. I got a letter from my friend Steve Bradbury, translator of Shang Qin 商琴 and Hsia Yu 夏宇 and editor of Full Tilt, about what I missed:

Hey Lucas

Sorry you couldn’t make the ALTA conference this year. It was a good one. I’d never been to Kansas City before and was pleased to find that it’s quite the tourist-friendly town; the accommodations were affordable and just a short walk from both the Nelson Atkins Museum and more bars and restaurants than you can shake a stick at. Silvia Kofler was the conference organizer this year. Paul Vangelisti and Douglas Hofstadter were the plenary speakers. Lisa Rose Bradford, who flew in from Mar del Plata, was this year’s NTA winner, for her stellar version of Between Words: Juan Gelman’s Public Letter.  Lisa also gave readings with sound poet Glenn North at the Jazz Museum and with me at the Writer’s Place, where I read some of my Shang Qin and Hsia Yu translations. The panel she put together on “Re/Creations and ‘Afterpoems,’” with Christian Hawkey, who talked about his Ventrakl volume, and Paul Legault, who gave us a trailer to his forthcoming collected After-Emily Dickenson “translations,” was the most interesting panel I’ve attended in years.

Chinese-language translators were a little thin on the ground this year, but the two besides me who made it did their mothers’ proud.  Your old friend and ALTA first-timer Jonathan Stalling, who drove up from Oklahoma U with his family, gave a marvelous recitation of some personal favorites in his recent collection, Winter Sun: The Poetry of Shi Zhi.  Charles Egan, who was also a first-timer, flew in from San Fran to accept the Lucien Stryk Prize for his Clouds Thick, Whereabouts Unknown: Poems by Zen Monks of China. Although Charles read his acceptance speech instead of speaking off the cuff per ALTA practice, he won the crowd from pretty much the get-go with the disarming admission that the prize was “a wonderful vindication for all the years I struggled in obscurity—I believe I saw many of you there…”

We talked for hours over martinis at the hotel bar. It was such a pleasure to run into a Chinese translator at ALTA who knows his books down to the ground and works by-and-large in fixed rhyme and meter; most of the ALTA regulars who translate Chinese classical verse are free-verse poets who can barely read a word of the language.  That was the subject of my talk on Erica Mena’s “Translating Blind: Working from a Language You Don’t Read” panel. I spoke on Amy Lowell’s and Florence Ayscough’s now largely forgotten 1921 anthology Fir-Flower Tablets, but it was Becka McKay who took the palm, for a fascinating presentation on teaching translation to monolingual students as a way of inspiring interest in literature.  Some of the student projects she showed us, which included a video game based on the Inferno and graphic adaptations of Don Quixote and The Tale of Genji, were amazing.  If Florida Atlantic U, where she teaches, wasn’t 12,000 miles away, I would sign up for her class.

Good news for those who live in or have ties to the Northeast and Great Lakes region: next year’s ALTA conference will be held in early October in Rochester, New York, “John Ashbery country.”  I’m hoping Open Letter editor Chad Post, who will be organizing the conference on behalf of the Translation Studies Program at the University of Rochester and Three Percent, will pursue my suggestion to invite Ashbery to give the keynote address. The poet’s getting on in years, but they say he still has his wits about him and gives a good talk. And he’s certainly got something to talk about: his new version of Rimbaud’s Illuminations is one of those must-read translations that make you want to throw in the towel.

                                                                                                —Steve Bradbury, Taipei

ALTA Conference 2011

The annual conference of the American Literary Translators Association is going on now, in Kansas City, MO. Here’s a video from incoming president and translator of Spanish poetry, Gary Racz:

The ALTA conference is reliably one of the best annual conferences there is, and I’m sad that distance and time have conspired to keep me away. This year’s panels, lectures, and readings look as enticing as ever (as I wrote about the ’08 conference in St. Paul, “People actually want to go to panels at ALTA”), so if you’re near KC, I recommend stopping by. And if you’re a literary translator who’s not a member, I recommend joining.

For updates of this year’s conference, keep an eye on Chad Post’s posts on Three Percent, which is also re-running the Making the Translator Visible series of pictures and Q&As from ’09.