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Kyoko Iriye Selden Memorial

Click here to contribute to the Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize Fund

Contributions may be made to the Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize through this online link or can be sent c/o Department of Asian Studies, 350 Rockefeller Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.

The Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize in Japanese Literature, Thought, and Society.

The Department of Asian Studies, at Cornell University, is pleased to announce a prize honoring the life and work of our colleague, Kyoko Selden. The prize will pay homage to the finest achievements in Japanese literature, thought, and society through the medium of translation. Kyoko Selden's translations and writings ranged widely across such realms as Japanese women writers, the atomic bomb experience, Ainu life and culture, historical and contemporary literature, poetry and prose, Japanese art, and early education (the Suzuki method). In the same spirit, the prize will recognize the breadth of Japanese writings, classical and contemporary. Collaborative translations are welcomed. In order to encourage classroom use and wide dissemination of the winning entries, prize-winning translations, together with the original Japanese text, will be made freely available on the web. The winning translations will be published online at The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.

Submit three copies of a translation and the original text of an unpublished work or a new translation of a previously published work to the Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize, Department of Asian Studies, 350 Rockefeller Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca NY 14853. E-mail submissions should be sent to Please provide both paper and electronic versions of the translation and the original text. The maximum length of a submission is 20,000 words. The translation should be accompanied by an introduction of up to 1,000 words. In case of translation of longer works, a 20,000-word excerpt should be submitted. The closing date for the first prize competition is May 30, 2014. Awards will be announced on August 31, 2014. A prize of $2,500 will be given to the author(s) of the award-winning translation.

About Kyoko Selden

Scholar, teacher, editor, poet, writer, calligrapher, musician, photographer, and prolific translator of modern and contemporary Japanese writings---passed away on January 20, 2013, in Ithaca, New York, after a brief illness.

Over the course of her long career as a faculty member at Cornell University, Kyoko Selden was editor and translator of well-known anthologies that introduced many significant works and authors to international readers for the first time. Deeply interested in music and music education, she was the primary translator of writings by the influential music educator, Suzuki Shin ichi. With Noriko Mizuta, she edited one of the first anthologies of modern Japanese womens fiction, Japanese Women Writers (1991), followed by a welcome addition, More Stories by Japanese Women Writers, published in 2011. The 2-volume, Annotated Japanese Literary Gems (co-edited with Jolisa Gracewood and Lili Selden) made available for classroom teaching literarily complex and challenging Japanese texts, such as those by Nakagami Kenji, Tomioka Taeko, and by Kyoko's friends, the authors Hayashi Kyoko and Tawada Yoko.

Kyoko Selden also played a path-breaking role in translating work on Ainu history and culture: co-translating with daughter Lili Selden the Ainu author Kayano Shigeru's Our Land Was a Forest (1994), and Honda Katsuichi's Harukor: An Ainu Woman's Tale (2000). With her life-time companion and collaborator, Mark Selden, Kyoko published in 1989 the anthology Atomic Bomb: Voices from Nagasaki and Hiroshima, a book that included translations done by her students at Cornell.

Indeed, Kyoko was a cherished teacher of generations of Cornell students, with whom she shared her vast knowledge of the intricacies of modern and classical Japanese and Chinese literary languages. Colleagues and scholars within and outside of Cornell regularly turned to her for help with knotty problems of translation.

Click here to contribute to the Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize Fund