Civitella Ranieri

Civitella Ranieri
  Fellows' Forum

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

David Lehman Wins Balch Prize for Poetry

Last week, the Virginia Quarterly Review announced that David Lehman (CRF 2006) has won the 2013 Emily Clark Balch Prize for Poetry.  This prize is awarded for the best work of poetry published in VQR's print or online publications during the course of the year and is decided by the VQR staff.  David won for his translation of Apollinaire's poem "Zone," which appeared in the journal's Spring 2013 issue.

In the introduction that accompanied his translation in VQR, David wrote, 
"I discovered “Zone” in my junior year of college and studied it closely when, as a graduate student at Cambridge University, I attended Douglas Parmée’s lectures on French literature and spent a few seasons in Paris. This was in 1971 and 1972. In Paris I lived with this peripatetic poem on such intimate terms that I felt I could hear it in my own voice as I walked from Notre Dame to the Luxembourg Gardens and from there to the cafés of Montparnasse. I made a special trip to the Gare St. Lazare with Apollinaire’s stanza about “ces pauvres émigrants” in my brain. Nevertheless I did not type up a complete draft of my translation until January 1978 when I taught a course at Hamilton College that called for it. After presenting it at a public reading, I let it lie fallow. I worked on the poem often and carefully, if at long intervals, until three years ago when, as a professor at the New School’s graduate writing program, I supervised MFA candidate Ashleigh Allen’s thesis, which focused on Apollinaire and “Zone.” This happy task spurred me to revise my translation yet again. Encouraged by friends, I worked on it some more in summer 2011 and fall 2012. These things take time. The love of the work sustains the effort."
He becomes the second Civitellian to win the Balch Prize for Poetry; it was previously awarded to Carolyn Forche (CRF 2012).  We would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations David for this honor.

You can read David's translation of "Zone" and the rest of his introduction here.

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