Brian Henry, professor of English and creative writing at the University of Richmond, has won the Best Translated Book Award for Poetry for his translation of Slovenian Aleš Šteger’s “The Book of Things.”
Presented by the University of Rochester at the 2011 PEN World Voices Festival., the award honors the best original work of international poetry published in the United States during the previous year. A second award honors a work of translated fiction. Each winning author and translator received a $5,000 cash prize.
“The Book of Things” is Šteger’s first English-translated collection. American poet Kevin Prufer, a judge in the competition, said the poems “focus with nearly comic intensity on an array of everyday objects. Here, a potato recollects the soil it came from. Or a hand dryer speaks a windy language we can’t quite understand. His objects reflect our own strange complexities – our eagerness to consume, our rationalizations and kindness.” The book is “harrowing and hilarious, unnerving and weirdly familiar – and most of all, ambitious in its attempt to look anew into our all-too-human darkness.
“And translator Brian Henry, himself a poet of significant talent, renders these poems beautifully into an English that is both colloquial and disconcertingly plainspoken.”
Co-editor of the international journal Verse, Henry has published eight books of poetry, two edited collections and two translated books. He has written about contemporary poetry for such publications as The New York Times Book Review, the Times Literary Supplement, Virginia Quarterly Review and The Kenyon Review.