Winning Poets and Translators: Words without Borders’ 2021 Poems in Translation contest

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On September 27, 2021, Words Without Borders presented a virtual poetry reading featuring the winners of its third Poems in Translation Contest which is co-sponsored by the Academy of American poets.  The two winners, Lauri García Dueñas and Conceição Lima, were chosen from 606 poems received from 327 poets and 79 countries. Ms. Dueñas poem was translated by Olivia Lott and Ms. Lima’s by Shook. The poets and translators were introduced by Eric Becker, Words Without Borders editor, and Airea D. Matthews, the guest judge for the contest. The event featured a reading of the prize-winning works by the two poets and their translators followed by a question and answer session.

Lauri García Dueñas lives in San Salvador, El Salvador and is the author six poetry collections. Her poem “0” is written in a free form style and contains strong elements of social protest, shared and personal experiences and an intense concern for the passage of time.

Ms. Dueñas has been a recipient or finalist for literary prizes in El Salvador and Mexico. Her work has been partially translated into Arabic, Catalan, English, German, and Italian. The winning poem was translated by Olivia Lott, the translator of Lucía Estrada’s Katabasis (2020, Eulalia Books), which was shortlisted for the 2020 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. She is a Ph.D. candidate in Hispanic Studies at Washington University in St. Louis.

Conceição Lima is a native of the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe and is the author of four volumes of poetry. She studied journalism in Portugal and attended graduate school in London, where she later worked for the BBC’s Portuguese Language Service. Her poem “Afroinsularity” is a haunting paean to her native land and to the departed souls who populated its plantations. It acknowledges the nation’s painful colonial history which left its indelible mark on the country.  Her translator Shook is based in Marshall, California. Shook’s most recent translation is Mario Bellatin’s Beauty Salon (Deep Vellum, 2021).

The text of the winning poems and readings by the poets in the original Spanish and Portuguese are available on the Words Without Borders website.



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