By Julia Snyder, senior English major from Murrysville, Pennsylvania
LATROBE, PA — PEN America has named “Katabasis” one of the top five works of translated poetry of 2020. “Katabasis,” a poetry collection written by Colombian poet Lucía Estrada and translated by Olivia Lott, is the first full collection of poetry by a Colombian woman to be translated into English.
Eulalia Books, which published “Katabasis,” is housed at Saint Vincent College and edited by Michelle Gil-Montero, a poet and translator living in Pittsburgh and professor of English at the College. Gil-Montero started Eulalia Books in 2018 with Román Antopolsky, another Pittsburgh poet and translator.
The PEN America Literary Awards program received more than 1,850 submissions this year. “Katabasis” is one of only 55 books across 11 categories to be named a finalist for a PEN award. Winners will be announced on April 8 at a virtual ceremony.
The collection has garnered numerous honors in both English and Spanish. In 2017, Estrada won the Bogotá Poetry Prize for “Katabasis,” and in 2019, the collection was a finalist for the Colombian National Poetry Prize. In addition to being a finalist for the PEN award for poetry in translation, “Katabasis” was included with 19 other books on a list of “Our Favorite Books-in-Translation of 2020” by Action Books Blog.
Lott said, “People have expressed how shocked they were to read that ‘Katabasis’ is the first full-length English-language translation of a woman poet from Colombia. Lucía Estrada and I are both hopeful that the attention paid to our project will help open doors for more Colombian poets in translation.”
Critics have described Lott’s translation as “impressive” and “sophisticated,” praising its “lyrical luminosity” and “memorable musicality.”
Katherine Hedeen wrote in the Kenyon Review that “Olivia Lott’s translation of ‘Katabasis’ by Lucía Estrada makes a critical contribution to the discourse around translation practice.”
Lott explained, “This book offers important insight on what it means to write from Colombia in the 21st century. 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.
PHOTO: “Katabasis,” by Lucía Estrada and translated by Olivia Lott