The most prestigious distinction for an eminent ambassador of Polish literature abroad, granted by the Book Institute, was awarded this year to Dr Hatif Janabi, poet, writer, translator of Polish literature, and prominent promoter of Polish culture in Arab countries.
"The Transatlantyk Award is an extremely important accolade and one that Hatif Janabi deserves more than most. I am proud and happy that his universal activity for the popularisation of Polish culture in the Arab world has been recognised by the Book Institute. I appreciate this also as an Arabic scholar, because I too am passionate not only about the popularisation of Arabic culture in Poland, but also about what Hatif is undertaking, since I myself also do not want to be perceived in the Arabic world as ‘a man from nowhere’," said in his commendation speech Prof. Marek M. Dziekan, Head of the Department of Middle East and North Africa at the University of Łódź and President of the Polish Oriental Society.
Dr Hatif Janabi (born 1952) is an Iraqi-Polish poet, writer, essayist, and translator of Polish literature into Arabic and Arabic literature into Polish, as well as an emeritus lecturer at the University of Warsaw. He made his debut in the local literary press while studying Arabic at Baghdad University. In 1973, he published a poem entitled Playing the Skull in the monthly magazine Ar-Rabita. Since then, his works have appeared regularly in the Iraqi press as well as in other Arab countries.
In August 1976, he left Iraq for political reasons. He received his Master's degree in Polish philology from the University of Warsaw in 1979 and his PhD in theatre studies in 1983. From 1988 to 2019, he worked as a lecturer in the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Warsaw.
Hatif Janabi has 20 volumes of poetry to his credit, written in both Arabic and Polish. His poems have also been translated into many languages, including English, French, Spanish, Russian, Czech, Slovak, Serbian, Farsi, Greek, and Kurdish.
He has published dozens of critical studies and translations of the work of the most important Polish poets and writers. He has translated into Arabic works by a number of Polish writers, including: Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Słowacki, Bolesław Leśmian, Józef Czechowicz, Władysław Broniewski, Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński, Stanisław Grochowiak, Czesław Miłosz, Tadeusz Różewicz, Zbigniew Herbert, Wisława Szymborska, Jan Twardowski, Leszek Kołakowski, Julia Hartwig, Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska, Urszula Kozioł, Ewa Lipska, Adam Zagajewski, Józef Baran, Edward Stachura, Anna Świrszczyńska, and Aleksander Wata.
His translations, as well as his critical literary studies, are extremely popular in Arab countries. Dozens of his translations, articles, interviews, and poetic works have appeared in numerous and significant Arabic-language cultural and literary periodicals.
He publishes most often in the prestigious Al-Mada publishing house in Damascus and in the United Arab Emirates, making his works extremely resonant in all Arabic-speaking countries.
Hatif Janabi is a member of Polish and foreign creative and scientific associations. He has received numerous prestigious awards, including: the Press Annual Award for Literature from The University of Arkansas for the best foreign-language book of 1995, the 14th International Poetry November Award in Poznań, the “Metafora” w Literaturze (“Metaphor” in Literature) Award for poetry, the Society of Authors ZAiKS Award for translations from Polish literature into Arabic, the Witold Hulewicz Award for lifetime achievement, and the ‘Poetry Today’ Award for lifetime achievement.
His work, carried out over a period of around 50 years, covers the entire spectrum of Polish literature and culture, to which he has devoted numerous case studies and essays, as well as many speeches at conferences and meetings with Arab audiences.
The Transatlantyk Award is an annual award from the Book Institute for an eminent ambassador of Polish literature abroad. The winner may be a translator, a publisher, a critic, or an animator of cultural life. This year, the Transatlantyk Award was presented for the 19th time.
The award was presented for the first time in 2005 during the Conference of Polish Literature Translators. It was awarded to Henryk Bereska, the translator of such giants of Polish literature as Jan Kochanowski, Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Jerzy Andrzejewski, Stanisław Wyspiański, Cyprian Kamil Norwid, and Tadeusz Różewicz. The award is worth 10,000 euros; moreover, the winner receives a commemorative certificate and a statuette designed by Łukasz Kieferling.
So far, this prestigious award was given to such outstanding personalities as Anders Bodegård, Albrecht Lempp, Ksenia Starosielska, Biserka Rajčić, Pietro Marchesani, Vlasta Dvořáčková, Yi Lijun, Karol Lesman, Bill Johnston, Laurence Dyèvre, Constantin Geambaşu, Lajos Pálfalvi, Antonia Lloyd-Jones, Hendrik Lindepuu, Ewa Thompson, Tokimasa Sekiguchi, and Silvano De Fanti.