Persian Poetry Translation/Morris Southern Prize – Poetry News Roundup October 24th

Today on My Poetic Side we bring you an article about a masterpiece of Persian poetry that has now been translated into Japanese. We also take a look at the inaugural winner of the Willie Morris Southern Poetry Prize.

Elahi-nameh Published in Japanese

One of the greatest masterpieces of Persian Literature,


was written by a poet and mystic named


who lived from around 1142 to 1220. The book has been translated and now has been published in the Japanese language.

Dictionaries, books on history, art and philosophy and encyclopaedias form the normal published works of the Heibonsha publishing house which is based in Tokyo, but they have now added this translation of a poetry book to their catalogue.

Ayano Asaaki, a Persian Literature Professor at Tokyo’s Foreign Studies University is responsible for the translation.

In her preface for the book, Sasaki writes that her translation into Japanese is taken from a copy of the original book that was published in 2006 and corrected by someone by the name Mohammadreza Shafiei Kadkani.

The concept of translating the book has been ten years in its creation. A fellow professor asked is Sasaki would collaborate on a project to look at the women written about within the Elahi-nameh. It wasn’t until April 2015 that Sasaki announced that she was working on the collaboration.

When talking about the translation she explained that translating any literary text is difficult but one that is originally in Persian and is to be translated into Japanese is even harder; there are significant literary and cultural differences. One of the main issues was the melodies of the words as they appear in a classical Persian text, these cannot be transferred in a translation.

Attar is perhaps most widely well-known for

The Conference of the Birds (Mantiq at-Tayr)


,which is a type of poetry known as allegorical poetry and describes the journey of the birds (Sufis) towards a mystical Phoenix that they want to make into their king (God).

Willie Morris Awards

Earlier this week, the Willie Morris Awards announced the name of the recipient of their inaugural poetry prize. Melissa Cannon received the award for her poem “The Mercury Poises on the Pinnacle of Nashville’s Bygone Union Station.”

The awards were started in 2008 when they were founded by Reba White Williams, the novelist, and her husband. They recognise on an annual base an author who has penned a work that is set in the South and is a shining example of Southern literature in its originality and the quality of its prose. The judges are also looking for authentic characters and settings.

The award has previously only been given to a novelist; this is the first year that the category for Southern poetry has been open. Whilst the judges feel that there were many fantastic entries in this inaugural year Cannon’s poem, in particular, stood out for them.

The inspiration to set up the awards came to Reba and her husband in 2008, when they discovered that two of their nieces in high school had never read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. They decided that they needed to do more to promote the work of Southern authors and now poets.

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