Pulvers wins Noma translation prize

by Tomoko Otake

Staff Writer

Roger Pulvers, a noted writer and veteran contributor to The Japan Times, has won the 19th Noma Award for the Translation of Japanese Literature, major publishing house Kodansha Ltd. said.

Pulvers, a U.S.-born longtime resident of Japan who now lives in Sydney, was recognized for his translation of “Strong in the Rain: Selected Poems,” a selection of poems by Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933).

The 128-page book, the first selection of Miyazawa’s poetry to be published in Britain, was released by Bloodaxe Books in 2007.

The award, which is given every two years and comes with a $10,000 prize and a business-class round trip ticket to Japan, was created in 1989 to help introduce Japanese literature abroad and promote international understanding, according to Kodansha. It is the first time since 2003 that an English-language work has been selected.

“For me it is a totally unexpected honor, and I think of it as all due to the power of Kenji’s spectacular poetry,” said Pulvers, who contributed the weekly Counterpoint column to this newspaper for eight years until the end of March. “And I often spoke of Kenji’s poetry and world view.”

The judges for this year’s award were Motoyuki Shibata, a professor of literature at the University of Tokyo, Jay Rubin, a former professor at Harvard University, and translator Sachiko Kishimoto. The award ceremony will be held Sept. 16 at the Japan Society in New York.

Akiba gets Hahn award


Former Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba received the 2013 Otto Hahn Peace Medal, a prominent German honor, from the United Nations Association of Germany on Tuesday for his efforts to abolish nuclear weapons.

At the award ceremony in Berlin, Akiba, 70, a former chairman of the Mayors for Peace global advocacy network, called again for atomic arms to be abolished by 2020, a goal the group of world mayors is working toward.