For only the third time in its nineteen-year history, the Griffin Poetry Prize has been awarded to a work in translation: Autobiography of Death by Kim Hyesoon, translated by Don Mee Choi and published by New Directions. This mammoth C$65,000 prize for poems written in English is awarded each year in two categories: to a Canadian poet and to one from anywhere else in the world (“International”). Each of the seven finalists (including the winners) also receives a C$10,000 award. In the case of a translated book winning the prize, the purse is split: 60% to the translator, and 40% to the author. As the prize rules explain, “Translations are assessed for their quality as poetry in English; the focus is on the achievement of the translator.” Indeed, the prize announcement describes the winning book as “Autobiography of Death by Don Mee Choi, translated from the Korean written by Kim Hyesoon.” What an excellent way of putting it <takes notes>.
Huge congratulations to Don Mee Choi on this extraordinary honor!