Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh was awarded this prize for his translation of Born upon the Dark Spear: Selected Poems of Ahmad Shamlu (Contra Mundum Press, 2015). Known for his voice of resilient defiance and political dissent, Shamlu is one of the most prominent literary figures in twentieth century Iran, evidenced by his nomination for a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1984. While previous translations of Shamlu’s work have been limited in scope, leaving his poetry relatively unknown in the English-speaking world, Born upon the Dark Spear showcases 78 poems from throughout his career, honoring his use of poetry to respond to the political tyranny and social upheaval he observed in his country.
Mohaghegh’s translation is noteworthy both for its groundbreaking collection of poems, and its exceptional quality. Born upon the Dark Spear expertly captures the tone and spirit of Shamlu’s poetry, enabling readers to engage with it as an ever-relevant commentary on inequality, oppression and indifference.