We're so very pleased! The 2012 Best Translated Book Award for poetry, given annually by the indispensable journal and site Three Percent has just been announced at the PEN New Voices festival, and it goes to a title featuring not one but two IWP alumni: Spectacle and Pigsty is a selection from two decades of work of the Japanese avant-gardist Kiwao Nomura (IWP '05) selected, edited and co-translated by Kyoko Yoshida (IWP '05), with Forrest Gander.
In fact, Nomura and Yoshida first met and began collaborating while in residency at the IWP, in the fall of 2005, so it was a triple pleasure to be able to welcome them back to Iowa City on their reading tour last fall. In addition to a fantastic, and packed, bilingual reading at Prairie Lights Books Kiwao and Kyoko also visited their old stomping grounds, the second-floor library of the Shambaugh House, to teach an hour-long seminar on their translation process. With Kiwao at her side Kyoko, herself virtually bilingual, a writer, and a professor of English and American literature at Keyo U in Tokyo walked the seminar through a close reading, and older stranslation (by Angus Turvill) and then the several drafts of the opening poem as shuffled between her and her colleague Forrest Gander, unpacking some of its literary antecedents (say, the tanka) , the philosophical landscape of abjection (by way, especially, of Pasolini’s Accattone ) and the performative/acoustic/phonic work the original poem was doing, and needed to do again, in English. To say that the publisher of the collection, Omnidawn, took a risk on work this far from the going poetic parameters (especially in print—when read out loud the poems' incantatory quality has an energy all its own) would be an easy understatement. Good for Omnidawn, thank you Three Percent, and congratulations Nomura-san, Yoshida-san and Forrest-san.