Congratulations to Burton Watson, winner of the 2015 PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation for his work as a translator of Chinese and Japanese literature! As the PEN America Translation Committee’s citation states, “Burton Watson is the inventor of classical East Asian poetry for our time.” Watson studied at Columbia University as both an undergraduate and a postgraduate, and taught at Columbia for many years. He has translated prose, fiction, and poetry from both Chinese and Japanese into English, and the list of his translations published with us speaks for itself. We here at Columbia UP could not be prouder to have worked with Professor Watson over the years.
More from the PEN announcement:
Credited with making many classical Chinese and Japanese works accessible to the English-reading public for the first time, Watson’s translations also span a wide array of genres, from poetry and prose to histories and sacred texts. The committee’s citation continues, “For decades his anthologies and his scholarly introductions have defined classical East Asian literature for students and readers in North America, and we have reason to expect more: even at his advanced age, he still translates nearly daily.”
In 1982, Watson was a recipient of the PEN Translation Prize for his translation of From the Country of Eight Islands: An Anthology of Japanese Poetry by Hiroaki Sato (Anchor Press/University of Washington Press), and in 1995 for his translation of Selected Poems of Su Tung–p’o (Copper Canyon). PEN is thrilled to now recognize Watson for his valued and longstanding commitment to the art of translation, bringing great creativity and precision to his work and introducing exceptional works of literature to a wider audience.
Watson will be honored, along with all 2015 PEN award winners, at the PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on June 8 at The New School in New York City.