The Cikada Prize 2018 is awarded to the Chinese poet Xi Chuan

Founded in 2004 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Swedish poet and Nobel laureate Harry Martinson, the Cikada Prize is given to East Asian poets whose work “defend the inviolability of life”.

The award is financed by the Swedish Institute and consists of 3,000 euro and an object of ceramic art by the Swedish artist Gunilla Sundström.

This year’s winner is Xi Chuan (official name Liu Jun), poet, essayist, translator, born in the city of Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, in 1963. Xi Chuan studied English literature at Beijing University from 1981 to 1985, and was a visiting scholar to the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa in 2002, and Orion Scholar to the University of Victoria, Canada in 2009. He is currently teaching Classical Chinese Literature at the School of Liberal Arts, Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing.

The prize was handed out during a prize ceremony in Beijing, arranged in close cooperation with the Swedish Embassy.

Previous Cikada Prize winners include So Sakon (Japan, 2004), Ko Un (Republic of Korea, 2006), Noriko Mizuta (Japan, 2013), Yang Mu (Taiwan, 2015), and Mai Văn Phấn (Vietnam, 2017).

About the prize

The Cikada Prize was first initiated by the Swedish ambassador in Japan, Mr. Lars Vargö. The prize got its name from Harry Martinson’s poetry collection Cikada (1953), which included the first 29 poems from his famous work Aniara, “The Song about Doris and Mima”. The atomic bombs in Japan, followed by the construction of the world’s first H-bomb in 1953, had a big impact on Martinson’s writing, which is reflected in Aniara.

The award focuses on East Asian poets, writing in Chinese, Korean, or Japanese, not only because of Harry Martinson’s great interest in East Asian literature, but also because the initiators of the prize believe poetry written in these languages deserves better recognition worldwide.