Wislawa Szymborska Award

The competition is organized by the Wisława Szymborska Foundation.

The Wisława Szymborska Award is of international nature, it will be given annually for a poetry book published in the Polish language in the preceding year. Poetry books originally published in the Polish language or translated into Polish can be submitted to the competition.

Publishing houses, persons representing cultural institutions, literary media, members of the Competition Jury and other persons can submit their candidates.

Competition stages

Submissions should be sent to the address of the Foundation by January 15.

At the first stage, the Jury selects 5 nominees to be announced in April.

At the second stage, the Competition Jury selects the winning books from among the 5 nominees. 

The awards ceremony will be organized in June, always in Krakow.

On 11 June 2016 during the Milosz Festival in Krakow the Wisława Szymborska Foundation presented the Wisława Szymborska Award for poetry for the fourth time.

The award was created by the Wisława Szymborska Foundation in performance of the Nobel Prize-winning poet’s last will and testament. The purpose of the Wisława Szymborska Award is to promote poetry, both Polish and foreign, to support translators in their work, and to invigorate the publishing market with respect to the propagation of foreign poetry through more publications. It also aims to draw attention to the most interesting and valuable books of poetry and their excellent translations (in the case of works by foreign poets).

In 2016, the award has been given in two categories: for a book of poems published originally in Polish and a volume of poetry translated into Polish in the year preceding the award. The cash prize attached to the Wisława Szymborska Award is zł200,000 (c. €45,000, $50,000), and is shared by the Polish poet, the foreign poet, and his or her translator(s). It is one of the most valued poetry awards in Poland.

The decision to bestow the award is made by an international committee comprising literary studies scholars, critics and translators of Polish literature into other languages. This year they are: Professor Marian Stala (literary scholar and critic) of Poland, Dr Joanna Orska (literary scholar and critic) of Poland, Abel Murcia Soriano (translator, poet) of Spain, William Martin (translator) of the USA, Bernhard Hartmann (translator) of Germany, Andrei Khadanovich (translator, poet, critic) of Belarus, and Dorota Walczak-Delanois (literary scholar and critic) of Belgium.

This year the committee has decided to present the award to the Polish poet Jakub Kornhauser for his book Drożdżownia and the Slovenian poet Uroš Zupan for the selection of his poems Niespieszna żegluga in Polish translation by Katarina Šalamun-Biedrzycka and Miłosz Biedrzycki.

Jakub Kornhauser received zł100,000 (c. €22,000, $25,000$), and Uroš Zupan zł50,000 (c. €10,000,  $12,000); another zł50,000 (c. €10,000,  $12,000) was shared by the translators of the latter’s award-winning book.

Jakub Kornhauser (b. 1984) is a literary scholar and poet, researcher at the Jagiellonian University, and editor of the magazine Literatura na Świecie. He has previously authored two books of poems, Niebezpieczny paragraf (2007) and Niejasne istnienia (2009), in addition to scholarly publications on surrealism and European avantgarde. His writings have been translated into several languages. He lives in Krakow.

Comments on Jakub Kornhauser’s book of poems:

“The world depicted is, on the one hand, solid and tangible, because it invokes durable and measurable structures: a house, a cathedral, a ship, or a beach hut; and on the other it seduces the reader into a dream, a reality that is somewhat unreal, immersed in the glow of a fireside and Sabbath candles”.
Dorota Walczak-Delanois, Wisława Szymborska Award Committee

“Fragments of prewar family stories become intermingled with fictitious narratives behind well-known paintings; the borderlines between the invented and the real, between recollections and daydreams, are blurred; poetic imagination finishes what memory can no longer manage.”
Andrei Khadanovich, Wisława Szymborska Award Committee

Uroš Zupan  (b. 1963) is a Slovenian poet, essay writer and translator. He studied comparative literature and cultural sociology at the University of Ljubljana. He is inspired by American beatnik poetry. Two books of his poems have been published in Polish: Przygotowania do nadejścia kwietnia, translated by Katarina Šalamun-Biedrzycka, and Niespieszna żegluga translated by Katarina Šalamun-Biedrzycka and Miłosz Biedrzycki; the latter volume is the winner of the 2016 Wisława Szymborska Award. He has translated poetry by Yehuda Amichai, Billy Collins, Pavle Goranović, and John Ashbery. His poems have been rendered into Polish, German, Czech, English, Serbian and Croatian.

Katarina Šalamun-Biedrzycka (b. 1942) is a scholar in Slovene studies and author of literary history books. She translates Slovene literature into Polish and Polish literature into Slovene. Her Slovene translations include works by such Polish authors as Witold Gombrowicz, Bruno Schulz, Czesław Miłosz, Stanisław Wyspiański, and Jan Kochanowski, among others. She is a member of the Polish Writers’ Association and the Slovenian PEN Club. She received the 2016 Wisława Szymborska Award for her translation of Uroš Zupan’s poetry.

Miłosz Biedrzycki (b. 1967) is a poet and translator, author of 12 books of poems. He has translated poetry by Tomaž Šalamun and Meta Kušar (from Slovene), Ruth Padel and Jorie Graham (from English). Nominated for the Gdynia Literary Prize for Sofostrofa i inne wiersze and for the Silesius Poetry Award for Porumb, Biedrzycki received the 2016 Wisława Szymborska Award for his translation of Uroš Zupan’s poetry.

About Uroš Zupan’s work

“Something in the aesthetics, the style of Zupan – whose sources of inspiration include American beatniks – brings to mind some of the Polish authors translated into Slovene by Šalamun-Biedrzycka – late poems by Miłosz and Jacek Podsiadło’s early poetry. Biedrzycka has spoken of Czesław Miłosz as the most important Polish poet; he was the first one that she decided to make available to Slovene readers. There is a great distance between Miłosz’s songs, elevated though written in a tone of personal reflection, extolling the beauty of the world, and Podsiadło’s angry satires about this world, or his melancholy elegies on passing youth, which we chose for the award last year. Uroš Zupan in Polish translation would join our poets somewhere ‘on the way’ between these two styles. All these poets find a kind of navigational point of reference in the countercultural psalms of Allen Ginsberg – poems characterized by long phrases, famous for their passion and narrative momentum.”

Fragment of the laudatory speech by Dr Joanna Orska,  Chair of the Award Committee