Announcement: Seamus Heaney Award, Japan

Literary relations between Japan and Ireland might be said to date back to Jonathan Swift’s Lemuel Gulliver, who landed near Edo (Tokyo), albeit briefly, the only real location he visited on his fantastic voyage. Two hundred years later, another voyager, Lafcadio Hearn landed, but stayed longer, becoming eventually a Japanese citizen. Hearn is well known in Japan for his adaptations of Japanese folktales, which, some argue, betray the indelible mark left by his Irish upbringing.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Japanese scholars and writers, such as Yone Noguchi, were some of the first to take a serious interest in the work of W. B. Yeats, an interest that was reciprocated by Yeats, in his adaptations of Noh drama, and in the many poems that reveal the hold that Japanese culture had on the thrust of his imaginative life. It would now be impossible to do justice to the range of poets, novelists, playwrights, academics, translators and scholars, in both countries, whose work has added to this tradition. The distinguished and sustained nature of this work, particularly over the last thirty years, make it appropriate for the Embassy of Ireland, Japan, in conjunction with IASIL Japan, to establish an award to recognise outstanding contribution to the enhancement of literary relations between Ireland and Japan.
To name this award the Seamus Heaney Award, Japan, is to honour a poet whose work, and whose presence on many occasions in Japan, played a vital role in inspiring much of the work that the award will recognise, and to acknowledge in an official manner, and continue, a relationship with Japan which was substantial, sustained, and marked by mutual affection and regard.
The award will be administered biennially by IASIL Japan under the auspices of the Embassy of Ireland, Japan, and to be given to: a work/body of work of outstanding literary merit; an outstanding work/body of work of translation and/or scholarship. Nominations are requested from relevant literary and scholarly associations and institutions, in Japan and Ireland. The nominations will be evaluated by a panel of well-qualified judges drawn from among these nominating organizations. The award itself will be a citation of the recipient’s outstanding contribution to literary exchange between Ireland and Japan, on a specially commissioned piece by Richard Gorman, an Irish artist whose own work has had a long association with Japan.
Nominations, to be received by November 30, 2022, can be sent by email using the subject line ‘Seamus Heaney Award Japan Nomination’ to:
IASIL Japan Office: secretary[at]
Embassy of Ireland, Japan: TokyoEmbassy[at]
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