Award Honors Translator of French Literature
Nov. 16, 2009
The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) has presented the 2009 National Translation Award to Norman Shapiro for French Women Poets of Nine Centuries: The Distaff and the Pen.
The organization, which is housed at UT Dallas’ Center for Translation Studies, presented the award and the accompanying $2,500 prize at its annual conference in Pasadena, Calif.
Shapiro, one of the foremost translators of French literature for almost four decades, is professor of romance languages and literatures at Wesleyan University and writer in residence at Adams House, Harvard. His prize-winning translations of fiction, theater and poetry include the recent The Complete Fables of Jean de La Fontaine, which earned the MLA’s Lewis Galantière Award.
In reflecting on his selection as this year’s NTA recipient, Shapiro said, “Since literary translation is basically a solitary pursuit — something we (or at least I) do as a form of creative self-expression — it is especially rewarding when our fellow translators appreciate our efforts.”
French Women Poets of Nine Centuries (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008) is the first anthology of its kind, containing more than 600 poems by almost 60 poets. Ranging from the late 12th to the late 20th century, the voices and styles of these poems convey the changing as well as constant features of French women’s poetry over the last 800 years.
The National Translation Award honors each year the translator whose work, by virtue of both its quality and significance, has made the most valuable contribution to literary translation.
Established in 1978, ALTA promotes the presence of foreign literature in the United States and cultivates dialogue among languages, cultures and literary translators.
It is a broad-based organization dedicated to the promotion of literary translation through services to literary translators, forums on the theory and practice of translation, and collaboration with the international literary community.