BELLEVILLE - Belleville native Randi Ward's English translation of Toroddur Poulsen's poetry collection, "Fjalir", has won The Nadia Christensen Prize in The American-Scandinavian Foundation's 34th annual international translation competition.
The Nadia Christensen Prize is awarded each fall for the most outstanding translations of poetry, fiction, drama or literary prose written by a Scandinavian author born after 1800.
Ward, a 2000 graduate of Parkersburg South High School who currently lives in Wood County, will receive $2,000, a bronze medallion and the publication of an excerpt from her translation in an upcoming issue of the foundation's journal, Scandinavian Review. Faroese publisher Forlagid i Stoplum will release the translated collection, "Planks", in its entirety in early 2014.
Courtesy of Listin Blog
Randi Ward of Belleville translated a collection of poetry by renowned Faroese writer Toroddur Poulsen.
The competition's judges praised Ward's translation as convincingly and meticulously conveyed. "This excellent translation for the first time gives a wider audience the opportunity to listen to a poetic voice from a vibrant culture that is largely unknown to the English speaking world," the judges wrote.
Ward, a writer, photographer and translator, said this international award was the most prestigious literary honor she has received. The American-Scandinavian Foundation, headquartered in New York City, is a leading cultural and educational link between the United States and the Nordic countries.
The Faroe Islands are situated north-northwest of Scotland, approximately halfway between Iceland and Norway, in the North Atlantic Ocean. As a self-governing territory under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Denmark, the Faroe Islands have their distinct language, culture, parliament and flag.
Ward conducted anthropological fieldwork in the remote archipelago, home to only 48,000 people, for three years while earning her master's degree. When she graduated in 2007, she became the first American to complete an M.A. degree program at the University of the Faroe Islands.
Ward speaks five Nordic languages and has now been working with Faroese literature for a decade. She described Toroddur Poulsen as a trailblazing poet, graphic artist and musician.
"Toroddur Poulsen is a man of few words whose work speaks volumes. He's a wizard when it comes to wordplay. I'm drawn to the compact, colloquial, musical, vivid, subversive, ingenious, multi-dimensional, insightful nature of his art and poetry," Ward said in an email.
"He has a genuine talent for synthesizing and problematizing a host of traditions, cultural allusions and political and linguistic realities in evocative metaphorical terms that play out in his personal poetics."
Ward said she admires Poulsen's courage in uncompromisingly pursuing and cultivating his artistic vision, across media, over three decades.
"He's a pioneer, not a people-pleaser. He's that rare kind of artist who's brutally honest, regardless of the consequences, and challenges people from all walks of life to look at the dynamics of everything in a new light," Ward said. "His body of work has something for everyone."
John Dalsgard, editor and publisher at Forlagid i Stoplum, is also excited that Poulsen's work will now be available to international audiences.
" "Fjalir" is definitely a highlight of Poulsen's career, and an award like the one Randi Ward received from The American-Scandinavian Foundation can have a lot to say for a small publishing company like ours, not to mention Faroese literature," Dalsgard said in an email.
"Collaborating with Randi Ward on this project has been very interesting and educational. People have often thought that Toroddur Poulsen's poems could only be understood and fully appreciated in the Faroese language, but Randi has thoroughly refuted this with her translations," he said.
"In most cases, Poulsen's poems, in their English form, have acquired a new dimension that helps further demonstrate their imagerial and linguistic excellence. This is one of many reasons why I'm looking forward to Forlagid i Stoplum's publication of "Planks", in Randi Ward's translation, early next year," Dalsgard said.
Ward began translating "Fjalir" shortly after it was released in the Faroe Islands in April 2013. She noted that conveying the language politics and post-colonial tensions of Faroese society can be challenging.
"A poet like Poulsen frequently layers the connotations of words / images / allusions / subjects to achieve thought-provoking ambiguity. He does it in such a compelling manner that his work is profound on many levels simultaneously and demonstrates an impressive thematic spectrum. My job, in part, is to find ways to make the translations as multivalent and engaging as possible," Ward said.
Ward said she translates to learn more about literature and the craft of writing while honoring the poets who have blessed her with their work and insight.
"Writing and literature have been a way of life for me. For most of my life," Ward said. "I'm very grateful for everything I've learned and how it has guided me. I'd also like to thank Melissa Bannister, Marjun Arge Simonsen, Kinna Poulsen, John Dalsgard, Toroddur Poulsen and Paul B. Roth for all of their feedback and support this year."
This fall, more of Ward's translations of Faroese poetry will be featured in Fjords Review while Cimarron Review, one of the oldest quarterly literary magazines in the country, will be showcasing her photography on its front and back covers. A collection of Ward's original poetry, "Whipstitches", will be published by John Gosslee Books in 2014.