Gdańskie Spotkania Literackie

Long Polish tradition of literary translation awards

By establishing the Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński Award, the Mayor of the City of Gdańsk would like to show appreciation for translators’ merit and artistry in translating literary works of art. The organiser’s primary goal is to promote translators and enhance translation as a discipline. Moreover, to acknowledge the unique role of translation in the history of literature, the initiator of the prize wishes to pay homage to iconic translators for their outstanding contribution to popularising literary works.

Nonetheless, the Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński Award is not the only token of appreciation for literary translations in Poland. It is worth noticing that literary translation prizes have a long lasting tradition in Poland.

Furthermore, it is not only the prizes themselves that are of paramount importance in promoting notable translation attainments. Metaphorically speaking, the numerous awards’ patrons stand an unprecedented chance to pass the baton to the next generations of literary translators.

Here are a few honourable mentions in the well-established Polish tradition of literary translation prizes, beginning with the Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński Award:

The Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński Award

Set up by the Mayor of the City of Gdańsk, the prize comprises two separate distinctions: for an individual translation work as well as for lifetime achievementThe first edition laureate (2015) was Maryna Ochab, a literary translator from French. More details:

The following two prizes are devoted solely to honouring attainments in poetry writing and translation.

The European Poet of Freedom Award

Presented by the City of Gdańsk since 2010, the award is to promote those poetic works of art which focus on freedom, one of the most crucial topics in the contemporary world. At the same time, the prize committee wishes to distinguish poetic works of notable artistic merit.

Since the second edition of the award onwards, there has been an addition to the competition rules. Apart from the prize for the winning poet, another statuette is handed to the translator of the author’s work. The first edition winner, Andrzej Kopacki earned the first ever title of 2012 European Poet of Freedom for translation of Durs Grünbein’s volume Der Misanthrop auf Capri (the Polish title, Mizantrop na Capri).


Joanna Kornaś-Warwas and Ana Blandiana, the winners of European Poet of Freedom 2016 award. For more details, visit the website:

The Wisława Szymborska Award

With international scope, the Award was launched in 2013. It is announced in two categories: for a volume of poetry published originally in Polish as well as for a volume translated into Polish (awarded to the winning poet and his/her translator). This last change to the competition rules has been introduced since the fourth edition onwards. The prize is organised and founded by the Wisława Szymborska Foundation.

To see more on the Award, click here:

Gdynia Literary Prize

Since 2006, it has been announced in three categories: Poetry, Prose, and Essay. Furthermore, in 2014, a new category was added: Translation into Polish. Together with the Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński Award based in Gdańsk, it makes the second literary translation prize given at the Polish coast.

For more information, see:

The PEN Polish Centre Award

Dating back as far as 1929, this prestigious award was launched for literary translation into PolishAmong the prominent laureates are Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński (1932, patron of the Mayor of the City of Gdańsk Award), Julian Tuwim, Kazimiera Iłłakowiczówna, Zygmunt Kubiak, Joanna Guze, Adam Pomorski, Zofia Chądzyńska, and Maryna Ochab (the first edition laureate of the Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński Award).

Since 1930, the PEN Polish Centre has given awards also to translators from Polish into other languages.

See details about the Award at:

Polish Society of Authors and Composers Award 

Since 1966, the award has been presented to translators from and into Polish. Among the winning translators are Stanisław Barańczak, Danuta Cirlic, Andrzej Drawicz, Joanna Guze, Paweł Hertz, Zygmunt Kubiak, Maciej Słomczyński, and Karl Dedecius.

In 2015, the prize committee was proud to announce two winners: Danuta Chmielewska (for her translation from Turkish) and Bohdan Zadura (for his translation from English and Hungarian).

More information is available at:

The Polish Book Institute Award “Transatlantyk” 

Since 2005, the Award has been established to celebrate outstanding translators of Polish literary works into other languages. Henryk Bereska was announced the first edition winner at the First World Congress of the Translators of Polish Literature.

The Book Institute website:

The Angelus Central European Literature Award

Being a token of merit in translation, the Award is inextricably linked with the long lasting tradition of Wrocław as the place of intercultural encounters and dialogue. Since 2009, it is not only prose writers but also translators who may enter the competition. The Prize is founded by the Angelus Silesius Public Vocational High School in Wałbrzych.

The first translator to win the Award was Andrzej Jagodziński, for his translation of the Czech book The Engineer of Human Souls by Josef Škvorecký (the Polish title, Przypadki Inżyniera ludzkich dusz).

For more details, see:

In addition, one has to acknowledge that together with the development of translation as a discipline, new phenomena have emerged to be evaluated. The aim of the following awards is to draw the public’s attention to rising trends in literary translation. The following list reflects the needs of contemporary literary translation studies:

The Karl Dedecius Award

It is given to Polish translators of German literature as well as to German translators of Polish literature. Awarded biennially, the Prize is a token of gratitude for bridging the language gap between Germans and Poles.

For more information on the Award, check:

The Ryszard Kapuścinski Award

The translation award has been given since 2015. Moreover, in 2016, an additional competition was established, “Translators of the world” (“Tłumacze świata”) to promote translation reviews. With a view to drawing the public’s attention to the reception of literary works, the competition introduces translation criticism as one of the criteria in the assessment of literary translation.

For more information on the Award, feel free to check this website:

The Jerome’s Lion award

This distinction is presented to translator friendly publishers who take special pride in supporting literary translators. The Head of the Award Jury is Justyna Czechowska, a literary translator.

For more details on the Award, click here: