Hard work translates into prize for Belleville native | News, Sports, Jobs


PARKERSBURG — A Belleville native has won the Nadia Christensen Prize in the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s international translation competition.

Randi Ward won the prize with her translation of Faroese writer Kim Simonsen’s poetry collection “Hvat hjalpir einum menniskja at vakna ein morgun hesumegin hetta aratusundio” (What good does it do for a person to wake up one morning this side of the new millennium). The collection was originally published in the Faroe Islands by Mentunargrunnur Studentafelagsins in 2013.

The prize is awarded each year for the most outstanding translation of poetry, fiction, drama or literary prose written by a 20th or 21st century Nordic author.

The competition’s judges noted in their citation that, “In Ward’s hands, these diaristic snapshots-in-verse, filled with visceral, yet spare natural imagery, beg to be read aloud. Vivid in its word choice and gorgeous in its simplicity, her translation strikes a moving balance between musicality and austerity, decay and fecundity.”

With the prize, Ward received $2,500 and a commemorative bronze medallion “For Service to America and Scandinavia.” An excerpt from her translation will be published in a forthcoming issue of the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s journal, “Scandinavian Review.”

In the 43-year history of the competition, Ward is the only translator to win the prize by translating a literary work from Faroese, the official language of the Faroe Islands. The Faroe Islands are located north-northwest of Scotland, about half way between Iceland and Norway in the North Atlantic.

Ward conducted research in the self-governing archipelago, home to 53,700 people, for three years while earning her master’s from the University of the Faroe Islands.

Ward’s poetry, photography and translations have been featured by “World Literature Today,” “Folk Radio UK,” National Public Radio and “PBS NewsHour.” Cornell University Library established the Randi Ward Collection in its Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections in 2015.

The author of the work, Kim Simonsen, is from the village of Strendur on Eysturoy. He completed his doctorate in 2012 at the University of Roskilde and has written seven books and numerous essays and academic articles. He is the founder and managing editor of “Forlagio Eksil,” a Faroese press that has published over 20 titles.

In 2014, Simonsen won M.A. Jacobsen’s Viroislon, the national book award of the Faroe Islands, for “What good does it do for a person to wake up one morning this side of the new millennium.” Excerpts from the collection have also been featured at the STANZA Poetry Festival in Scotland, the TRANSPOESIE Festival in Belgium, and the Skopje Poetry Festival in Macedonia where it received an award for best new release from the Association of Publishers and Booksellers of Macedonia.

Scandinavia House, the leading center for Nordic culture in the U.S., will host a virtual reading and discussion of the award-winning poetry collection with Simonsen and Ward at 1 p.m. Saturday. Those wishing to attend can register at https://tinyurl.com/2y22pwxs or send questions to info@amscan.org ahead of the event.

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