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from the September 2021 issue

The Winners of the 2021 Words Without Borders—Academy of American Poets Poems in Translation Contest

This year, we partnered with the Academy of American Poets to bring you the third edition of the Poems-in-Translation Contest. We received 606 poems from 327 poets and 79 countries, translated from 61 languages. This year’s winners were selected by Pew Fellow and Yale Series of Younger Poets winner Airea D. Matthews.

The winning poems will be published in Words Without Borders and in’s Poem-a-Day on Saturday, September 25, and Saturday, October 2. Published alongside the poems will be the original language texts and recordings of both the original poems and their English language translations. Check back throughout the month for interviews with the winners on the WWB Daily, and don't miss a virtual celebration with readings from the winners on September 27 at 7 p.m. ET.

The winning poems and their date of publication are:

“0,” by Lauri García Dueñas, translated by Olivia Lott—September 25, 2021

Judge’s citation: “Though birthed on an altogether different continent in an altogether different country, ‘0' moves with the same lush rebellion and avant-garde flair as a poem in the twentieth-century infrarealist movement. Marked by a free, fluid, and layered aesthetic, readers leave this work with a sense of the author’s urgent integration of art and life. Though unrestrained by grammatical structure, this translation heightens craft by presenting the implicit and explicit—the personal and shared experience—as dually embedded.”

“Afroinsularity,” by Conceição Lima, translated by Shook—October 2, 2021

Judge's citation: “This prize-winning translation haunts. In the vein of a paracolonial text, the poem examines the specters of a racialized human commodity and its ecological aftermath. As if magic or conjure, ‘Afroinsularity’ launches with hints of ghosts and ends in a colony of haints. The reading of each deftly interpreted line thrusts the reader to beautifully confront the ways in which land holds the stories that history attempts to colonize, and how land will out the truth until the long-buried rest.”

Watch a recording of our Brooklyn Book Festival Event "World in Verse: A Multilingual Poetry Reading," a celebration of the winners of the 2021 Words Without Borders—Academy of American Poets Poems in Translation Contest

Read more from the September 2021 issue
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