Amherst College Professor of Russian Catherine Ciepiela Honored with Writing and Editing Recognitions

Submitted by Patricia M. Allen

January 31, 2008
Contact: Caroline Jenkins Hanna
Director of Media Relations

413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Amherst College Professor of Russian Catherine Ciepiela has received three prestigious recognitions for her writing and editing. Her book The Same Solitude (Cornell, 2006) won awards from the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (AATSEEL) and the American Library Association’s Choice magazine, while an anthology she co-edited, The Stray Dog Cabaret (NYRB Classics, 2006), was named a finalist for a 2007 PEN Award for poetry in translation.

AATSEEL honored The Same Solitudewhich details the epistolary romance between modernist poets Marina Tsvetaeva and Boris Pasternak during the 1920s and early 1930sat its annual conference this past December with its Best Book of Slavic Literary/Cultural Criticism recognition. “Catherine Ciepiela’s The Same Solitude has rightly been praised for its ‘impeccable scholarship, theoretical acumen and rich, resourceful close readings,’ its ‘degree of insight that borders on the uncanny’ and its ‘very careful, illuminating, and nuanced analysis,” AATSEEL’s citation reads. “Professor Ciepiela … shows herself to be a splendid translator of these two fantastically difficult poets. The translations as well as the overall argument open this book to readers far beyond specialists in the Silver Age or in Russian poetry. To quote one last review of the book, it is a ‘remarkable and moving work of criticism and biography.’”

The book was also honored by Choice, which named it an Outstanding Academic Title. Every year in its January issue, the magazine publishes a list of publications that were reviewed during the previous calendar year and that “reflect the best in scholarly titles reviewed by Choice,” according to its Web site. Criteria for the award include overall excellence in presence and scholarship, importance relative to other literature in the field, distinction as a first treatment of a given subject in book or electronic form, originality or uniqueness of treatment, value to undergraduate students and importance in building undergraduate library collections. 

Lastly, the anthology Ciepiela co-edited with poet Honor Moore, The Stray Dog Cabaret, was named one of three finalists for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. The prize recognizes book-length translations of poetry from any language into English and is judged by a single translator of poetry appointed by the PEN Translation Committee. The Stray Dog Cabaret gathers translations by Paul Schmidt, whose distinguished career as an actor and dramaturge shaped his unique approach to translating the Russian modernist poets. As Ciepiela writes, “this is poetry as theater, the pleiad as ensemble, the translator as director.” The book was acknowledged at the 2007 PEN Literary Awards ceremony at Lincoln Center last May.

Ciepiela, who received her B.A. in interdisciplinary studies from Amherst College in 1983, has been a member of the Amherst faculty since 1989. She holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale University and has received fellowships from Yale University, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation.

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