Book by Taiwanese author wins U.S. prize for poetry in translation

04/22/2021 12:33 PM
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Photo courtesy of the Taipei Cultural Center in New York
Photo courtesy of the Taipei Cultural Center in New York

New York, April 21 (CNA) A book of verse by Taiwanese poet Amang (阿芒) and American translator Steve Bradbury has been named winner of the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, a first for a Taiwanese author.

"Raised by Wolves: Poems and Conversations" was awarded the annual prize by the literary and human rights organization PEN America for "break(ing) new ground" with its approach to translation as one of "discovery."

Rather than offering one definitive translation for each poem, the book often presents multiple English versions, accompanied by dialogues between the poet and translator, documenting what the award citation calls the "messy collaborative process" behind the printed page.

The poet and translator have known each other since 2014, when Bradbury was working as a professor of English at National Central University in Taoyuan.

After translating and publishing several of Amang's poems in literary magazines, Bradbury was contacted by U.S. publishers about the possibility of putting out a collection.

In 2016, the two were awarded one-month spots at the Vermont Studio Center, a writers' residency program, where they began the discussions that would eventually appear in the book.

Two years later, Amang received a Ministry of Culture (MOC) grant to attend the Cove Park residency program in the United Kingdom, where she and Bradbury continued their dialogue over the internet.

The book was ultimately published by Phoneme Media last September and was awarded the prize at a virtual ceremony on April 8.

In a statement released by the Taipei Cultural Center in New York, Amang thanked Bradbury, as well as her publisher, the MOC and the Henry Luce Foundation, for their contributions to the book.

Precisely because of the collection's long and circuitous development route, Amang said, she and Bradbury were able to have an in-depth dialogue on poetry, language, culture and various aspects of translation, which eventually became a vital part of the book.

Amang, who was born in eastern Taiwan, is the author of four previous volumes of poetry and is also a documentary filmmaker.

(By Ozzy Yin and Matthew Mazzetta)

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