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Announcing the Winners of the 2021 Poems in Translation Contest

By The Editors of Words Without Borders

As a pandemic defined by isolation stretches ever onward, our third Poems in Translation Contest brought together 606 poems from 327 poets and 79 countries, translated from 61 languages. We are thrilled to announce, alongside our partners at the Academy of American Poets, this years winners, selected by Pew Fellow and Yale Series of Younger Poets winner Airea D. Matthews.

The winning poems will published in Words Without Borders and in POETS.orgs Poem-a-Day on Saturday, September 25, and Saturday, October 2. In celebrating these works, we continue our mission to expand the readership of groundbreaking international poetry and to create, in a time of global crisis, opportunities for connection and meaning across borders, languages, and cultures.


Congratulations to our winners:

“0,” by Lauri García Dueñas, translated by Olivia Lott 

Lauri García Dueñas is the author of Filigranas (La Chifurnia, 2017). She lives in San Salvador, El Salvador. 

Olivia Lott is the translator of Lucía Estrada's Katabasis (Eulalia Books, 2020). She is a Marilyn Yarbrough Dissertation Fellow in Spanish at Kenyon College and lives in Gambier, Ohio. 

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 authors 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

Conceição Lima was born in 1961 in the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe, where she resides today. She has published four books of poetry.

Shook makes books in Marshall, CA. Their most recent translation is Mario Bellatin's Beauty Salon (Deep Vellum, 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.”   


World in Verse: A Multilingual Poetry Reading

On Monday, September 27, we hosted a virtual celebration and multilingual reading of this years winning poems featuring Conceição Lima, Shook, Lauri García Dueñas, and Olivia Lott, hosted by our contest judge, Airea D. Matthews. Missed the event? Watch a recording here.

This is an official Brooklyn Book Festival Event.

Published Sep 20, 2021   Copyright 2021 The Editors of Words Without Borders

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