The first prize for the 2023 Jawad Memorial Prize for Urdu-English Translation has been awarded to “Palestinian,” Poorna Swami’s translation of “Falasteeni” by Fehmida Riaz. The runner-up is Mohd Aqib for “Prohibition,” his translation of “Pabandi” by Ahmed Nadim Qasmi.

This year the prize switched from fiction to poetry, and the theme in focus was “freedom”, as interpreted by poets. The judges were the bilingual poet Anisur Rehman and author Raza Mir.

‘Palestinian,’ Fehmida Riaz, translated by Poorna Swami

“The poem ‘Palestinian’ translated its source material with fidelity, but without sacrificing a poetic sensibility of its own,” said the jury about the translation.

The winning translator Poorna Swami is a writer and choreographer from Bangalore. She was formerly the India editor-at-large for the international translation quarterly Asymptote, where she co-edited the journal’s first feature on Indian language poetry in English translation. Swami is now a PhD student in the Department of South Asian Studies at Harvard University, where she studies 20th-century Urdu and Hindi literature.

‘Prohibition,’ Ahmed Nadim Qasmi, translated by Mohd Aqib

“The translator has effectively communicated its resistance against censorship and prohibition,” said the jury about the translation.

Mohd Aqib is a PhD candidate at the Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. His PhD title is “Aesthetics of Bilingualism in English Self-Translations of Three Post-Partition Urdu Novels.” His publications include translations from Urdu to English, Urdu ghazals, and two co-written book chapters investigating the interventions of digital technology in Indian poetics.