Two SWET Members Win Japan-US Friendship Prize!

Congratulations to SWET members Janine Beichman (Tsukuba) and Matt Treyvaud (Chigasaki) on the awards for their recently published translations!

The Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture announced winners selected by the jury for this year’s Japan-United States Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature and Lindsley and Masao Miyoshi Translation Prize on November 15, 2019.

Janine Beichman, who won the Friendship Commission Prize for Beneath the Sleepless Tossing of the Planets, Selected Poems 1972–1989 (Kurodahan Press, 2018) wrote: Ooka Makoto and I chose the poems for the volume together and he went over my translations carefully, with the eye of a poet. When a translation worked, he was generous in his praise, and when it did not, he said so, but always without judgment. At a time when I lacked confidence, he believed in me. And that meant a lot, because he was such a wonderful poet and so brilliant a critic himself. I find I cannot talk about the book without wanting to thank Edward Lipsett of Kurodahan Press for having the vision to take this second edition on, and Michelle Zacharias for the beautiful drawing that became the cover. Many others spring to mind when I talk about the poems. It is as if each translation has its own story. Books are never made alone, are they?

Matt Treyvaud, winner of the Masao Miyoshi Translation Prize for his translation of Shimura Fukumi’s The Music of Color (Japan Publishing Industry Foundation for Culture, 2019), writes: The challenge for this book was recreating the poetry of Shimura Fukumi’s writing with a different set of rhetorical tools. She uses repetition and juxtaposition to almost classical effect in places, but identical structures would only have felt awkward in English. I was fortunate to have the support of Office Miyazaki and my two main editors, Tetsuya Ogino and SWET friend Winnie Bird, who helped me refine my approach to something that worked. I also workshopped some early sections with the translator’s collective Humans In Literary Translation (HILT), from which I received some invaluable suggestions. I am sure it also helped that the book’s photography and design are so striking, helping to convey Shimura’s art to the reader directly.