The aim of the Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award is to recognize outstanding artistic and intellectual literary achievements on the world stage which have a bearing on the world of values towards which Zbigniew Herbert’s work gravitated.
The Award also aims to promote Poland’s cultural contribution—particularly in the field of poetry—to the development of world literature as manifested in the exchange of ideas, values, and contemporary experiences.
In accordance with the Rules & Regulations endorsed by the Foundation’s Board the Award will be given annually to a living author for achievements in the field of poetry, for the entirety of his creative output. The Board can also decide to give Awards in the additional categories of essays, translation and editing.
The Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award will be the first of its kind, with a global reach, to be awarded in Poland, by a jury composed of eminent authors and literary experts.
As founders we remain convinced that the values represented by Zbigniew Herbert’s creativity, have a universal and lasting appeal. One that reaches far beyond any boundaries of time and space; well beyond a twenty-first-century world seemingly sinking ever deeper into a marasmic state of ethical and metaphysical chaos. An appeal for values that transcend the ever-diminishing presence of all that is sacred in people’s lives, the resurrection of intolerance, and at times outright hate, generated by false notions of race or political opinion. An appeal for values that stand in vehement opposition to a human existence ever more often viewed in a uniquely economic dimension.
At such times it is worth remembering courage, a trait so dear to the author of Mr Cogito.
To ponder his deep devotion to the freedom of the individual and society at large, and, though never a blind idol-worshiper, to a wilful patriotism, as well as a metaphysical perspective and belief in the dignity of the human person. But also to remember his opposition to the suffering of the individual obscuring our wider picture of the world, and a yearning that artistic creativity should serve as a “tool of compassion.” After all, Herbert’s poetic hero asked God, for something that the author himself also craved, to be allowed to understand “other people, other languages, other sufferings…”
From amongst today’s living artists we aim to single out and celebrate those who, with artistic mastery, endeavour to seek such an understanding. Whose works bring their readership a better appreciation of the painful human condition, as well as everlasting hope.
Laureate of the International Zbigniew Herbert Literary Award 2015 will be announced at a press conference on March 9th at Teatr Polski (Polish Theater) in Warsaw.
Lidija Dimkovska (born 1971 w Skopje) – Macedonian poet, essayist and translator
Studied Comparative Literature at the University of Skopje and took a Ph.D. degree in Romanian Literature at Bucharest University. Presently lives in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Works as a freelance writer, literary critic, and translator. Also editor of an online literary review, published in both Macedonian and English: www.blesok.com.mk
Dimkovska’s poems have been translated into over twenty languages around the world. Works include her debut poetic anthology Rożbi od Istok (The Offspring of the East),1992, published together with Boris Cavkoski, winner of the literary award for best poetry book debut; Nobel protiv Nobel (Nobel vs. Nobel), 2001, Meta-spanzurare de meta-tei (Meta-Hanging on Meta-Linden) and pH nutralna za żivotot i smrtta (pH Neutral For Life And Death) which came out in 2012. Dimkovska’s first novel Skriena kamera (Hidden camera) was recognised by Macedonia’s Writers Union as the best book of 2004.
Dimkovska translates Rumanian, Slovenian, and Macedonian literary works. In 2009 she received the European Hubert Burda Literary Prize awarded to poets from Central and Eastern Europe, and in 2012, she received Rumania’s International Tudor Arghezi Poetry Prize.
Edward Hirsch (born 1950) – American poet, essayist and literary critic.
A MacArthur Fellow, Hirsch has published The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems (2010), which brings together 35 years of poetry from seven previous collections, including For the Sleepwalkers (1981), Wild Gratitude (1986), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, The Night Parade (1989), Earthly Measures (1994), On Love (1998), Lay Back the Darkness (2003), and Special Orders (2008). He has also written four prose books, including How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry (1999), a national bestseller, and Poet’s Choice (2006). He edits the series “The Writer’s World” (Trinity University Press). He has edited Theodore Roethke’s Selected Poems (2005) and co-edited The Making of a Sonnet: A Norton Anthology (2008). He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature. He taught in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston for 17 years and now serves as President of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
Michael Krüger, (1943) German publisher, writer, editor, translator, critic and connoisseur of contemporary literature.
While starting his professional career in publishing at Herbig Verlag Berlin, he also studied philosophy at the Freie Universität Berlin. In 1968 Krüger became editor at the independent Publishing House Carl Hanser and has been its Executive Director from 1985 until 2013.
Michael Krüger writes short stories and novellas, novels and essays but is best known in Germany as a poet. For over three decades, he is also the editor of the literary journal Akzente. He made his literary debut in 1976 with a poetry collection Reginapoly. His most recent collection of poems At Night beneath Trees – Selected Poems and Das Elfte Gebot – The Eleventh Commandment are also available in English language.
Michael Krüger received numerous awards and honours both for his own work as well for his role as pathfinder and enthusiastic go-between for international literature in Germany. Krüger lives in Munich.
Jarosław Mikołajewski (born 1960) – Polish poet, essayist, translator, author of children’s books
Debuted in 1991 with a volume of poetry, A świadkiem śnieg, (Snow Witness), subsequent works include: Kołysanka dla ojca (A Lullaby for Father), Mój dom przestały nawiedzać duchy (When Spirits Ceased to Haunt My Home), Któraś rano (One Morning), Coś mnie zmartwiło, ale zapomniałem (Something Sad, Yet Forgotten). Recipient of the Warsaw Literary Prize (Nagroda Literacką m. st. Warszawy) in 2010 for his latest volume of poetry Zbite szklanki (Broken Tumblers). Recent publications include: Rzymską komedię (Roman Comedy), 2011, and Dziennik-przewodnik po Wiecznym Mieście (Journal & Guide Around the Eternal City).
Head of the Instytut Polski (Polish Institute) in Rome from 2006 to 2012. Amongst others, has translated Dante, Petrarca, Michelangelo, Leopardi, Montaleg, Ungaretti and Pasolini. Awarded the Premio Nazionale per la Traduzione, (National Translation Prize) Italy’s highest award for translators.
Organiser of the three-day Zbigniew Herbert Festival in Sienna in 2008, which also included the unveiling of a special plaque commemorating the poet’s sojourn in the city.
Mercedes Monmany (born 1957) – Spanish literary scholar, critic, translator, editor and juror of various literary awards
Born in Barcelona, she teaches contemporary European Literature at Universidad Complutense in Madrid and Universitá Dante Alighieri in Florence, Italy. She is a regular contributor to many literary journals, among them “Revista de Libros” as well as a literary supplement to daily “ABC”, publishing essays, reviews and interviews with authors such as Christopher Fry, Margaret Atwood, Claudio Magris or Amos Oz. She is the editor of poetry and essay series at the Huerga & Fierro publishing house. Among the many authors she has translated in to Spanish are Italian writers such as Leonardo Sciascia and Valerio Magrelli, and French Francis Ponge and Philippe Jaccottet. She is the author of several collections of essays and books on literary history and criticism: “Una infancia de escritor”; “Don Quijote en los Cárpatos”, “Por las fronteras de Europa. Narrativa de los siglos XX y XXI”, or “De lo maravilloso y lo real”.
Agneta Pleijel (born 1940) – Swedish novelist, playwright, poet and essayist
A literary critic of many years standing and formerly Professor of Creative Writing at Stockholm’s University College Dramatic Institute. President of Sweden’s Pen Club from 1988 to 1990. Translates poetry, including Zbigniew Herbert’s, Raport z oblężonego miasta (Report From A Besieged City), 1985, into Swedish, together with Maciej Zaremba. A number of her novels have appeared in Poland including: Kto zważa na wiatr (Who Heeds the Wind), 1999, translated by Halina Thylwe, Zima w Sztokholmie (Winter In Stockholm), 2000, translated by Grażyna Wąsowicz-Ludvigsson, and Lord Nevermore, 2003, translated by Iwona Jędrzejewska, as well as an anthology Anioły ze snu (Angels From A Dream),1995 translated and adapted by Leszek Engelking.
Tomas Venclova (born 1937) – Lithuanian essayist, poet, translator and literary historian
An active member of the dissident movement, he lost his Soviet citizenship in 1977 and was forced to emigrate. At Yale University since 1980, presently Professor of Slavonic Languages and Literature. Collections of his essays have been published in Polish Niezniszczalny rytm (Indestrutable Rhythm), Opisać Wilno (A Picture of Wilno) and Z dzienników podróży (From My Travel Journals), as well as a collection of his poems Rozmowa w zimie (A Winter Dialogue). Author of Aleksander Wat’s biography and a compilation of essays on Czeslaw Milosz. Translated poems into Lithuanian by T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, Charles Baudelaire, Saint-John Perse, Borys Pasternack, Anna Achmatowa, Josif Brodski, as well as those by Cyprian Kamil Norwid, Czesław Miłosz, Zbigniew Herbert and Wiesława Szymborska.
Andrzej Franaszek (born 1971) – Literary critic, essayist
Published works include: Ciemne źródło (Tenebrous Spring), Esej o cierpieniu w twórczości Zbigniewa Herberta (An Essay On Suffering in Zbigniew Herbert’s Work), 2nd edition 2008, Przepustka z piekła. 44 szkice o literaturze i przygodach duszy (Laisses-passer From Hell. 44 Sketches About Literature and Adventures of the Soul), 2010. A member of the Tygodnik Powszechny (Weekly General) editorial staff.