09. 04. 2014. 10:14

Janus Pannonius Prize goes to Adonis and Yves Bonnefoy

Translator's prize awarded to Csehy, Gömöri, Launonen

Adunis Ali Ahmad Sa’id Asbar (Adonis) and Yves Bonnefoy are this year’s recipients of the Janus Pannonius International Poetry Prize of the Hungarian Pen Club.

The prize was established in 2012 by Géza Szőcs, who is currently President of the Hungarian PEN Club and counselor of the Hungarian Prime Minister in cultural issues, at the time when he was still in office as State Secretary for Culture. It comes with fifty thousand euros, partly financed from governmental sources. Szőcs's explicit aim in creating the prize was to have a poetry award equivalent to the Nobel Prize. It is given to poets "who can be considered heirs to human spirituality and culture, the grand chain of values, accumulated over millennia."

There were eight candidates for this year’s prize, including Charles Bernstein, Augusto de Campos, Knut Odegard, Justo Jorge Padrón, Tom Raworth and Cole Swensen. The international jury consisted of literary historian Enikő Bollobás, poet Tomaso Kemény, Géza Szőcs (president of the jury), and poets Edwin Thumboo and Dorin Tudoran.

The winners: Syrian-born poet Adonis (b. 1930) has been a candidate for the Nobel Prize for many years. Ali Ahmad Sa’id Asbar started to write in his teens under the name Adonis, after the Greek god of fertility. After a year in prison as a result of his political activity, he moved to Beirut, where he cofounded and edited two progressive literary journals, Sh’ir and Mawaqif. Breaking with the tradition of formal structure in Arabic poetry, Adonis experiments with free verse, variable meters, and prose poetry. He has taught at the Sorbonne, Damascus University, and the Lebanese University. He lives in Paris.

Yves Bonnefoy has published seven major collections of verse, several books of tales, numerous studies of literature and art, and an extensive dictionary of mythology. He lives in Paris. See interview with Bonnefoy in The Paris Review.

Three translation prizes were also awarded by PEN: Zoltán Csehy from Bratislava received the prize for translations of Latin poetry into Hungarian, Hannu Launonen for his translations of Hungarian poetry into Finnish, and György Gömöri (London) for his life work which includes translations of poetry into Hungarian from several languages, as well as from Hungarian into English.

Tags: Yves Bonnefoy, Janus Pannonius Prize, Adonis