Here’s what the jury had to say about their choice:
Paul Celan’s The Meridian was originally delivered as an acceptance speech to the German Academy for Language and Poetry, which had honored him in 1960 with its Georg Büchner Prize for Literature. It ranks as its author’s most powerful statement concerning the mysterious but powerful bond between poetry and life. Writing in the shadow of the Holocaust, Celan asks how our words and our art should deal with human violence and depravity. Richly supplemented with extensive notes and critical commentaries, Pierre Joris’s meticulous translation dramatically demonstrates why The Meridian stands as one of twentieth – century literature’s seminal documents.
For more information on both prize and recipient, see the MLA’s press release.