The American Institute of Iranian
Studies announces the presentation of the annual Lois Roth Persian
Translation Prize funded by the Lois Roth Endowment. This Prize is given in
recognition of demonstrated excellence in translating Persian literature
The eleventh Lois Roth Prize for Literary Translation from Persian to English has been awarded to Geoffrey Squires for his book Hafez: Translations and Interpretations of the Ghazals (Miami University Press, 2014). Since Sir William Jones first made the attempt to set in English the “orient pearls at random strung” of Hafez, the most canonical of Persian lyric poets, dozens of translators have attempted English translations and versions of Hafez, but few have succeeded. Squires’ Hafez captures the energy and depth of this fourteenth-century poet in contemporary English without archaisms or predetermined interpretation. It displays a supple and at times even exhilarating handling of language and form. The integration of annotations and commentary provide the uninitiated reader with the right balance of background information and a personal, lyrical encounter with the raw poem. Squire’s intimate familiarity with the poems, and the clarity and crispness of the diction he employs, almost makes Hafez a contemporary writer, but without obscuring from today’s reader the chronological and cultural difference, and the unique qualities of the fixed-form ghazal he practiced.
The Lois Roth Persian Translation Prize was
established in memory of Lois Roth whose interest in and affection for Iran
and Iranian culture dates back to the late 1960s when she lived and worked
in Iran as Assistant and then Deputy Cultural Attache in the USIA and as
Director of the Iran America Society. At that time Lois Roth was one of a
group of persons who helped initiate and encourage the foundation of the
American Institute of Iranian Studies. After her death in 1986 the Lois Roth
Endowment was created. Since 1999 the Endowment has included, among many
contributions to international programs, funding for the Lois Roth Persian
Translation Prize of the American Institute of Iranian Studies.