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Best Translated Book Awards Spotlight: The Millions Interviews Laura Cesarco Eglin

Laura Cesarco Eglin’s fantastic translation of Hilda Hilst’s Of Death. Minimal Odes won this year’s Best Translated Book Award in poetry. A week after the prize was announced, Englin and I corresponded about the depth of Hilst’s work and the process of translating Of Death.

The Millions: First of all, congratulations. It was such a pleasure to read and discuss your translation with the other judges this year. How did you first begin to read Hilst’s work? Do you have other favorite books of hers?

I became acquainted with Hilda Hilst more than seven years ago when a professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder, where I was because the Hebrew word in the title caught my attention. Whenever I read a book by Hilst it becomes my favorite book. Her work is profound, and it requires commitment and thought. Therefore, after choosing to include Hilst’s poetry in my doctoral dissertation, I soon realized that in order to fully engage with her work, reading would not be enough. I needed another way to go deeper into her work. I decided to translate her poetry as a way to live with her poems and ideas. That is: translation as reading, translation as re-reading, translation as inquiry, translation as interpretation, and translation as conversation.

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