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Robert Fagles and Susanna Nied Recognized for their Translations of Poetry

 

May 14 — The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce that Robert Fagles and Susanna Nied are the recipients of the 2007 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award, given by the Academy of American Poets. Mr. Fagles is being recognized for his translation of Virgil's Aeneid (Viking) and Ms. Nied for her translation of Inger Christensen's it (New Directions). Translator and poet Christopher Merrill served as judge. Mr. Fagles and Ms. Nied will share a prize of $1,000. The Harold Morton Landon Translation Award is given to the best books of poetry that have been translated from any language into English and published in the previous year.

On selecting these volumes for the award, Mr. Merrill wrote:

It is a truism that every literary masterpiece must be translated anew for each generation of readers to reflect changes in the spoken language, and now Robert Fagles has followed his exemplary translations of Homer's Illiad and Odyssey with the Latin answer to the Greek texts…. Fagles tells the story crisply—the battles and war councils, the sea voyages and encounters with monsters and divinities, the journey to the Underworld, the doomed love of Dido, the promise of Italy. And he honors Virgil's eye for the details that reveal the physicality and essential strangeness of the universe.

Inger Christensen is one of the most interesting contemporary poets, and in Susanna Nied she has found the ideal translator for her formal sensibility. As in her first book published in English translation from the original Danish, alphabet, in which the alphabet and the Fibonacci mathematical sequences serve as structuring devices, Christensen devises an intricate formal structure for her meditations on matter, juxtaposing prose passages with lyrics, building syllable by syllable, block by block, an essay on—it. What is it? A dizzying tour de force.

Robert Fagles is the Arthur W. Marks '19 Professor of comparative literature, Emeritus, at Princeton University. He is the recipient of the 1997 PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation and a 1996 Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His previous translations include Sophocles's Three Theban Plays; Aeschylus's Oresteia, which was nominated for a National Book Award; Homer's Iliad, which received the 1991 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award; and Homer's Odyssey.

Publius Vergilius Maro, known to us as Virgil, was ancient Rome's most highly regarded and well-known poet. He lived from 70 B.C.E. to 19 B.C.E. and wrote the Eclogues, the Georgics, and the Aeneid.

Susanna Nied, born in 1947, is a former instructor of English and comparative literature at San Diego State University. Her translation of Inger Christensen's alphabet won the 1982 PEN/American Scandinavian Foundation Translation Prize for Poetry, and her translation of Christensen's Butterfly Valley: A Requiem was a finalist for the 2004 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation.

Inger Christensen, born in 1935, is one of Denmark's most honored poets. The first of her six poetry collections, Lys (Light), was published to critical acclaim in 1962. She has also written novels, including the experimental works Azorno (Azorno) and Det malede værelse (The Painted Room); dramas for stage, radio, and television; essays; and children's books. She was elected a member of the Danish Academy in 1978 and has received the Swedish Academy's Nordic Prize, the Austrian State Prize for Literature, and the Grand Prix des Biennales Internationales de Poésie.

Christopher Merrill's books include four collections of poetry, Brilliant Water, Workbook, Fevers & Tides, and Watch Fire, for which he received the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; translations of Aleš Debeljak's Anxious Moments and The City and the Child; several edited volumes, among them, The Forgotten Language: Contemporary Poets and Nature; and four books of nonfiction, including The Old Bridge: The Third Balkan War and the Age of the Refugee. He directs the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.

The Harold Morton Landon Translation Award
The Harold Morton Landon Translation Award was established at the Academy of American Poets in 1976 and is given to an American for a published translation of poetry from any language into English. Previous winners include Clayton Eshleman, David Ferry, Robert Fitzgerald, David Hinton, Anslem Hollo, Edmund Keeley, Galway Kinnell, Rika Lesser, Charles Martin, W. S. Merwin, Stephen Mitchell, Robert Pinsky, Andrew Schelling, Charles Simic, Louis Simpson, W. D. Snodgrass, Edward Snow, and Rosmarie Waldrop. The award was established by Mrs. Harold Morton Landon in memory of her husband.

The Academy of American Poets
The Academy of American Poets is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1934 to foster appreciation for contemporary poetry and to support American poets at all stages of their careers. For over three generations, the Academy has connected millions of people to great poetry through programs such as National Poetry Month, the largest literary celebration in the world; Poets.org, the most popular site about poetry on the web, presenting a wealth of great poems, audio recordings, poet biographies, essays, and interactive discussions about poetry; the Poetry Audio Archive, capturing the voices of contemporary American poets for generations to come; American Poet, a biannual literary journal; and an annual series of poetry readings and special events. The Academy also awards prizes to accomplished poets at all stages of their careers—from hundreds of student prizes at colleges nationwide to the Wallace Stevens Award for lifetime achievement in the art of poetry. For more information, visit www.poets.org.




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