Five Years of the Zbigniew Herbert Award
The Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award is the first such distinction with a global reach to be awarded in Poland. Recipients include William Stanley Merwin, USA (2013), Charles Simic, USA (2014), Ryszard Krynicki, Poland (2015) and Lars Gustafsson, Sweden (2016). This year’s laureate will be announced on 6th March 2017.
The Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award was established by the Herbert Foundation in September 2012 as a distinction to be awarded to living poets, for their lifetime achievements. The award stands to recognise outstanding artistic and intellectual literary achievements in an international arena and which have a bearing on the values towards which Zbigniew Herbert’s work gravitated.
In the statement delivered by Polish poet Adam Zagajewski during the first edition of the Herbert Awards, we read:
In the second half of the 20th century, Polish poetry became well-known worldwide. The great poets who achieved this great success are now passing away. In establishing the Zbigniew Herbert Foundation, we wish to ensure that not only poems or books – always the most important elements – but also institutions will seek to perpetuate this presence, to make it a permanent component of global culture. The Foundation’s initiative will serve this very purpose – the Herbert Award in particular. The Award should surely find its way into the ranks of international prizes, which help create the map of contemporary literature.
The Award ceremony takes place the Polski Theatre in Warsaw. Jarosław Gajewski, Polski Theatre Artistic Director said:
We would like the Herbert Foundation to remain connected to [our theatre]. Poetry is an organic part of theatre.
Katarzyna Dzieduszycka-Herbert, the poet’s widow and the founder of the award, explains that the actual founder is Zbigniew Herbert himself:
Truthfully, I am not the one who established the Foundation, but Zbigniew himself. A few years before he died, he kept coming back to this idea of an award. We finally succeeded fourteen years after his death.
Andrzej Franaszek, the Awards’ jury secretary, always emphasises that Zbigniew Herbert’s work is a part of Polish, European and world literary and cultural heritage.
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. The jury can also make the decision to grant awards in other categories such as essay writing, translation and publishing. Only the winner will be announced. Nominees will remain anonymous.
The Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award is granted by a jury of distinguished authors and literary scholars. This year the jury Yuri Andrukhovych (Ukrainian author, poet and songwriter), Edward Hirsch (American poet, essayist and literary critic), Michael Krüger (German publisher, writer, editor, translator, critic and connoisseur of contemporary literature), Jarosław Mikołajewski (Polish poet, essayist, translator, author of children’s books), Mercedes Monmany (Spanish literary scholar, critic, translator, editor and juror of various literary awards), and jury secretary Andrzej Franaszek (literary critic, essayist).
Partners of the Herbert Foundation: the National Library, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and Polski Theatre in Warsaw
Find out more about the Foundation and the Award: www.fundacjaherberta.com
Written by Janusz R. Kowalczyk, Feb 2017; translated by NR, 3 March 2017