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PEN Award Acknowledges UAlbany Poet and Translator

Contact: Catherine Herman (518) 437-4980

Pierre Joris

Pierre Joris

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 6, 2005) -- University at Albany professor of English Pierre Joris is the recipient of the 2005 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. Joris was recognized for his translation from the German of "Lightduress" by Paul Celan (Green Integer, 2004).

Joris has studied and translated Celan for some 35 years. Celan, born in Czernowitz, Bukovina in 1920, survived the Holocaust and settled in Paris in 1948, where he lived until his tragic death in 1970. The PEN citation calls Joris' translations "…consistently alert to the subtle and often bewildering thought-turns of the original, his lyric sense of pause, suspension and onrush can keep pace with the German, and his vast knowledge of Celan's life and world allow vital commentary and annotations. In every respect then: inclusion of original text, stalwart and intelligent literalism, accuracy of annotation, comprehensive introduction, this volume is everything a poetic translation should be."

Joris, born and raised in Luxembourg, works in English, French and German. As a result of his multiple fluencies and ties to multiple cultures, his poetry is characterized by cross-linguistic puns, energetic wordplay, and reflections on the nature of language. "Rain Taxi" praised his collection, Poasis: Selected Poems 1986-1999 (Wesleyan University Press, 2001) for "its physical, philosophical delight in words and their reverberations." In 2003 Wesleyan University Press brought out A Nomad Poetics, a collection of essays. Other recent books include Paul Celan: Selections (University of California Press, 2005) and 4x1: Work by Tristan Tzara, Rainer Maria Rilke, Jean-Pierre Duprey & Habib Tengour (Inconundrum Press, 2002). With Jerome Rothenberg he edited the award-winning anthologies Poems for the Millennium (University of California Press, 1995 and 1998) and Pablo Picasso, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz & Other Poems (Exact Change, 2003). He often performs his work in collaboration with vocalist and visual artist Nicole Peyrafitte, touring their multimedia shows throughout Europe and the United States. During fall 2003, he was Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. Pierre Joris' website is at

The $3,000 annual PEN Award for Poetry in Translation recognizes book length translations of poetry from any language into English published during the current calendar year, and is judged by a single translator of poetry appointed by the PEN Translation Committee. The award was made possible originally by a bequest from the late translator and PEN member Rae Dalven, and has received current support from The Kaplen Foundation.

PEN American Center is the largest of the 141 centers of International PEN, the world’s oldest human rights organization and the oldest international literary organization. International PEN was founded in 1921 to dispel national, ethnic, and racial hatreds and to promote understanding among all countries. PEN American Center, founded a year later, works to advance literature, to defend free expression, and to foster international literary fellowship. The Center has a membership of 2,900 distinguished writers, editors, and translators.


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