Tasmanian wins NSW Premier's Translation Prize!

Posted Monday 23rd May, 2011

The NSW Premier's Translation Prize & PEN Medallion ($30,000) has this week been won by Ian Johnston, a Tasmanian translator of ancient Chinese literature.

Ian’s translations include the collections published by Pardalote Press, Waiting for the Owl: poems and songs from ancient China (2009) and Singing of Scented Grass: verses from the Chinese (2003). Mozi: a complete translation was published by The Chinese University Press in 2009.

The New South Wales Premier’s Translation Prize ($30,000) is offered biennially by Arts NSW and the Community Relations Commission for a multicultural NSW in association with Sydney PEN.

The prize is intended to acknowledge the contribution made to literary culture by Australian translators, and recognises the vital role literary translators play in enabling writers and readers to communicate across cultures and ensuring that dissident voices are heard around the world.

On the website of Pardalote Press, Ian says, "Despite the great gulf in time and culture I find a resonance in the writings of these poets, especially Wang Wei; the feeling of increasing disaffection with public life and sadness at the 'strange mutations' of the world, leading to the wish to spend my life in relative solitude, immersed in the beauties of nature, the writing of verse, and the study of Zen Buddhism."

"If these books have a primary purpose it is to introduce readers to the beauties of Chinese verse as I was introduced to them almost fifty years ago. The richness of the poetic tradition, the variety of form and subject extending back to the Classic of Poetry from early in the first millennium BC is unparalleled in any other literature, offering endless reward to those who explore it, either in translation or in the original."

Ian Johnston will read at the Tasmanian Writers' Centre Readings at the Lark, at 6pm Wednesday 1 June. Further details of his books can be found at the website of Tasmanian publisher, Pardalote Press.  

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