New York, April 9—The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce that Clayton Eshleman has been chosen by the poet and translator Jerome Rothenberg as the recipient of the 2008 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award. Mr. Eshleman is being recognized for his translation of The Complete Poetry of César Vallejo (University of California Press, 2007). This is the second time Mr. Eshleman, who as been translating Vallejo's work for over 45 years, has won the award; the first time was in 2001 for Vallejo's Trilce. The Harold Morton Landon Translation Award is given to the best book of poetry translated from any language into English published in the previous year, and carries a prize of $1,000.
On selecting this volume for the award, Mr. Rothenberg wrote:
Eshleman, who has translated other strong poets such as Césaire, Artaud, and Holan (he is by now Césaire’s principal translator) is here at the height of his powers as a poet-translator. If Vallejo truly found him in a dream and led him into poetry, the response as translation more than requites it.
Clayton Eshleman is the author of more than thirty books, including Reciprocal Distillations (Hot Whiskey Press, 2007), An Alchemist with One Eye on Fire (2006), and Archaic Design (Black Widow Press, 2007), a book of essays, prose poems, notes, and interviews. Eshlelman has received the National Book Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and several fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In addition to Vallejo, he has translated Aimé Césaire, Antonin Artaud, Pablo Neruda, Michel Deguy, and co-translated work by Vladimir Holan and others. A Professor Emeritus at Eastern Michigan University, Eshleman lives with his wife, Caryl, in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
César Vallejo was born in Santaigo de Chuco, Peru in 1892. He was the author of four collections of poetry, most famously Trilce. As a young man, Vallejo worked as an assistant cashier at a sugar plantation, where he watched poor laborers work long shifts in the fields with nothing to eat but rice, which resulted in him joining the communist party. In 1920, while visiting his hometown, Vallejo was part of a crowd that burned down a store and killed two policemen in retaliation for them shooting a bystander. He fled, but was arrested and imprisoned a few months later. After 105 days he was released and moved to Lima. In 1922, after losing his teaching position and fearing that he may be sent back to prison, Vallejo moved to Paris, where he wrote plays and became more actively involved in the Communist party. In late 1930 he was expelled from France for his political views. He moved to Madrid and wrote his only novel, El tungsteno and a travelogue of Russia, Rusia en 1931. A year later, Vallejo illegally returned to France, but was allowed to stay, and was subsequently granted citizenship. In 1938, consumed by his politics and poverty, Vallejo contracted a mysterious fever, which, despite medical attention, killed him on April 15th.
Jerome Rothenberg is an internationally known poet with over seventy books of poetry and several assemblages of traditional and contemporary poetry such as Technicians of the Sacred, Shaking the Pumpkin, Exiled in the Word (a.k.a. A Big Jewish Book), and Poems for the Millennium: The University of California Book of Modern & Postmodern Poetry. Recent books of poetry include Writing Through: Selected Translations & Variations (2004), A Book of Concealments (2003), The Burial of the Count of Orgaz & Other Poems by Pablo Picasso (2003), and 25 Caprichos, after Goya. Triptych, his thirteenth book of poems from New Directions, appeared in 2007, and a nineteenth-century prequel to Poems for the Millennium will appear in 2009.
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 Robert Fagles, David Ferry, Robert Fitzgerald, David Hinton, Anslem Hollo, Edmund Keeley, Galway Kinnell, Rika Lesser, Charles Martin, W. S. Merwin, Stephen Mitchell, Susanna Nied, 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 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; 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.