The announcement of the winner of the second YAKAMOCHI MEDAL
In 2017, Toyama Prefecture established the YAKAMOCHI MEDAL that would recognize the achievements of prominent poets of the world, in commemoration of the 1,300th anniversary of the birth of Otomo no Yakamochi. Yakamochi was a representative poet of the Manyoshu, the oldest anthology of Japanese poetry, and composed numerous excellent poems while he was working here in Etchu (currently known as Toyama Prefecture) as a governor. After the awarding of the second YAKAMOCHI MEDAL was postponed one year due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, we are very happy to announce that the award recipient had been selected through the screening by the selection committee.
The winner of the 2nd YAKAMOCHI MEDAL
A poet from China, 71 years old
His main publication is “Bei Dao Anthology” edited and translated by Shun Korenaga / published by Shoshi Yamada in 2009.
Bei Dao, whose original name is Zhao Zhenkai, was born in Beijing in 1949. In 1978, he founded the literary magazine Jintian (lit.: 'Today') with friends in Beijing. Since 1987, he has been teaching in many universities in Europe, America, and Hong Kong. His work has been translated into 30 languages. He is the Honorary Doctorate at Brown University, Honorary Professor of the Faculty of Art at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Bei Dao was awarded the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award, the Swedish PEN Literature Prize, the American Guggenheim Prize, and the highest honor of Golden Wreath Prize of the Macedonian Struga International Poetry Festival. He is an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2009, Bei Dao founded the International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong, currently the most influential international poetry festival in Asia. He created the Hong Kong Poetry Festival Foundation in 2018.
■Reasons for selection
In 2015, Bei Dao was awarded the Golden Wreath Prize in “the Struga Poetry Evenings”, the most authoritative prize in the field of poetry. Also, he was once considered for the Nobel Prize in Literature, thus he enjoys high international regard and attention.
Bei Dao began his career as a poet affected by ideology in the midst of the turmoil of modern China. However, in his more recent poems, he sublimated his past anger into personal poesy with his strong sentiment, reaching a state of expresser of spirits. We can trace the process of maturity of his poems by reading “Bei Dao Anthology” edited and translated by Shun Korenaga / published by Shoshi Yamada in 2009.
In this anthology, there is his recent poem, ”Passing Winter” and through this poem, the poet is catching a glimpse of future hope in the sentiment of poems, after suffering from political suppression. By this, he transcended the history and climate he was born with, and became an expresser of the spirits of all humankind. This was the reason for his being awarded.