The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded Spanish professor Katherine M. Hedeen a $12,500 Literature Translation Fellowship. The grant supports the English translation of the poetry of Jorge Enrique Adoum (1926-2009), one of Ecuador’s leading 20th-century intellectuals and poets.
Hedeen is a National Endowment for the Humanities Distinguished Teaching Assistant Professor of Spanish. Her translation project, titled Disinterred Love: Poems, 1949-2009, covers 60 years of poetry by Adoum, winner of many prestigious international awards and the first Ecuadorian poet to be funded by the NEA.
“Adoum is without a doubt the most important Ecuadorian intellectual of the 20th century,” Hedeen said. “Every Latin America writer is familiar with his work, yet he remains largely unknown to American readers. I think that is one reason NEA was willing to fund this project.”
Of Lebanese ancestry, Adoum was a journalist and professor who worked at a variety of cultural institutions. Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda hailed Adoum as the best poet of his generation in Latin America.
Hedeen said, “[Adoum] is very experimental in content and form. His works are challenging for the reader as well as the translator. They combine social commitment with formal experimentation and require an active reader who is part of the creative process. That is why they are so interesting to me.”
Hedeen’s work as a literary translator has appeared in well-known journals in the U.S. and the U.K. She is co-editor of a series of Latin American poetry in translation for Salt Publishing.
Her latest translation publications are With a Strange Scent of World (Lavender Ink, 2014) and thaw (Arc Publications, 2013), both collections by Víctor Rodríguez-Núñez. Rodríguez-Núñez is an acclaimed Cuban poet and professor of Spanish at Kenyon who is collaborating with Hedeen on the NEA project.
Hedeen was one of 20 recommended fellows for a literature translation grant. She previously received a $10,000 fellowship in 2009 to support the translation of a collection by Argentine poet Juan Gelman.