Israeli Poet Agi Mishol Wins the Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award 2019
#language & literature
default, Agi Mishol, photo: Bar Gordon, center, agi_miszol_zdjecie.jpg
The Zbigniew Herbert Foundation has announced the laureate of the 2019 Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award. The honour has gone to Israeli poet Agi Mishol, whose poems, in the words of Amos Oz, ‘can tell stories, sing and dance at the same time’.
The Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award Ceremony 2019
Yurii Andrukhovych, chairman of this year’s jury, commented:
Agi Mishol, using seemingly simple language forms, can maintain the seriousness and depth of poetic meaning, talk about dramatic, often tragic things. She doesn’t consider herself a ‘political’ poet, but comments: ‘when writing, we are not meditating in the Himalayas, we are surrounded by the hustle and bustle here, in this crazy, aggressive country, politics permeates my poetry’.
Mishol, formerly Agnes Fried, was born in 1947 in Transylvania, Romania, to Hungarian-speaking Jewish parents who survived the Holocaust. At the beginning of the 1950s, the family moved to Israel. At home, they spoke Hungarian, and even though it was Mishol’s first language, she writes in Hebrew.
Her work touches on the political situation in Israel, the poet's family history, as well as the human condition, corporeality and sexuality. She has published several books of poetry and has won numerous awards, among others, the American Newman Prize, the Italian Lerici Pea Award, or the Israeli Yehuda Amichai Award.
The 2019 award laureate said:
It is a great honour to receive the Zbigniew Herbert Award and join the wonderful group of its laureates. I am all the more moved because Herbert is one of my most beloved and admired poets. Herbert's poems, splendidly translated into Hebrew by his friend David Weinfeld, are a source of inspiration for my work. I was also fortunate to see Herbert in 1991, when he received the award given to him by the city of Jerusalem.
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Zbigniew Herbert in his home, Warsaw, 1974, photo: Bohdan Majewski / Forum
Katarzyna Herbert, the poet’s widow and founder of the foundation that bears his name, said:
I believe that my husband would be delighted to hear that his award is going to a poet from Israel who, in her work as well as in her public statements, opposes nationalism, including that which plagues her own society. Herbert always thought that writers should be on the side of those who are harmed, regardless of the price they would pay for it.
This year’s laureate was chosen by an international jury composed of poets, essayists, translators and publishers: Yurii Andrukhovych (Ukraine), Edward Hirsch (USA), Michael Krüger (Germany), Mercedes Montana (Spain) and Tomasz Różycki (Poland).
The Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award is a distinction on the literary world stage primarily in the field of poetry. It has been given since 2013 in recognition of outstanding artistic and intellectual achievements, inspired by the values and ideals which Zbigniew Herbert’s work exemplifies. Previous laureates of the award: William Stanley Merwin, USA (2013), Charles Simic, USA (2014), Ryszard Krynicki, Poland (2015), Lars Gustafsson, Sweden (2016) and Breyten Breytenbach, South Africa (2017), and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Ireland (2018).
The award ceremony will be held on 15th May 2019 at the Polski Theatre in Warsaw.
zbigniew herbert international literary award
the zbigniew herbert foundation
The PZU Foundation is the main strategic partner in the Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Awards 2018. Supporting partners of the Zbigniew Herbert Foundation include the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, the Arnold Szyfman Polish Theatre in Warsaw and the National Library. This year’s media partner is Polish Radio.
The project was co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage from the Fund for the Promotion of Culture.
For more information about the Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award:
Source: press materials, culture.pl; compiled by NR, 11 Mar 2019