Polish Adam Zagajewski, winner of Zhongkun International Poetry Prize.
Polish poet Adam Zagajewski is this year's foreign recipient of the fourth Zhongkun International Poetry Prize awarded by Peking University Institute of Poetry Studies.
The 68-year-old poet is a teacher at the University of Chicago. Maciej Gaca, culture counselor of the Polish embassy in Beijing, accepted the award on Zagajewski's behalf.
Zagajewski is known as the poet who helped soothe thousands of wounded American hearts after the Sept 11 terrorist attacks. Two weeks after the tragedy, The New Yorker magazine published his work, Try to Praise the Mutilated World on its back page, instead of the normal cartoons. The poem struck a chord with readers and was widely circulated.
"You gathered acorns in the park in autumn/and leaves eddied over the earth's scars," he writes in the poem. The work explores his personal feelings of exile and was partly inspired by the ruins of postwar Poland.
Zagajewski is a key figure in the 1960s Polish New Wave poetry movement.
He speaks fluent English and French, and travels the world, writing and teaching. His poetry is available in different languages, but he insists on writing in Polish, his mother tongue.
Critic Tang Xiaodu with the Poetry Institute of China says Zagajewski's poems are especially enlightening to Chinese writers because he strikes a perfect balance between a writer's historical obligations and aesthetic beauty.
"He's so influential in China that his creations have long been embraced by contemporary Chinese poetry," Tang says.
Zagajewski is aware his works are widely loved in China.
"I've long been reading and appreciating Chinese poems, both the ancient and newer ones. I'm proud to be honored in the middle land of world poetry," he said in a video played at the awards ceremony.