LATROBE, PA – “Katabasis,” a poetry collection written by Colombian poet Lucía Estrada and translated by Olivia Lott, has been longlisted for the 2021 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. “Katabasis” was released by Eulalia Books, a publisher of modern and contemporary poetry housed at Saint Vincent College, in October 2020.
The PEN Award for Poetry in Translation is awarded by PEN America for a book-length translation of poetry from any language into English. Nine other books join “Katabasis” on the longlist. PEN America will announce finalists for all 2021 PEN America Literary Awards in February 2021.
Judges in the poetry-in-translation category are Daniel Borzutzky, Marissa Davis and Meg Matich. Borzutzky and Davis are award-winning poets and translators, while Matich is a noted translator of Icelandic literature whose work has been supported by PEN America, the Fulbright Program, the Icelandic Literature Center and others. Matich is also an alumna of Saint Vincent College and she demurred from judging in the case of “Katabasis” due to the conflict of interest.
Estrada’s “Katabasis,” winner of the 2017 Bogotá Poetry Prize, is the first full collection of poetry by a Colombian woman to be translated into English. It takes its title from the Greek word for “descent,” referring to both classical knowledge quests into the underworld by epic heroes and, more broadly, to any journey into madness, darkness and the unknown.
Olivia Lott’s seminal translation tracks the mercurial tempos and intertextualities of the poems, as it captures the double valence of political dissent and katabatic descent. The book features cover art titled “Katábasis III,” commissioned from Colombian painter David Robledo.
“Katabasis” has been reviewed by Georgina Fooks in Asymptote and by Katherine M. Hedeen in the Kenyon Review. Hedeen wrote that Lott’s translation “makes a critical contribution to the discourse around translation practice.”
Lott first met Estrada in Medellín, Colombia, in 2015, and has closely followed her work ever since. “When ‘Katabasis’ came out in 2018, it really caught my attention. It was unlike any poetry collection from Colombia I had read,” Lott said. “I read this book as deeply in dialogue with Colombia's decades-long Armed Conflict (in which the U.S. was heavily involved), the osmosis-like quality of living your whole life in an active or dormant warzone. It’s urgent, so I felt the need to urgently translate it.”
“Katabasis” is available for purchase at https://www.eulaliabooks.com/catalog/katabasis.
The book trailer for “Katabasis” can be viewed on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCbe8eM3xBw.
To learn more about upcoming Eulalia Books publications, events and more, visit its website at www.eulaliabooks.com, follow on Instagram and Twitter (both @Eulalia_Books) and “like” on Facebook at Eulalia Books.
Eulalia Books is a part of Saint Vincent College’s literary translation program, a conjunctive effort of the English and modern language departments. Its mission is to publish modern and contemporary poets who do not yet have a collection translated into English.