Skip to main content

STEPHANIE MCCARTER’s translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses (Penguin Classics, 2022) has won the HAROLD MORTON LANDON TRANSLATION AWARD. This $1,000 prize recognizes a published translation of poetry from any language into English that demonstrates literary excellence. 

Stephanie McCarter is a scholar, writer, and translator. Her books include a verse translation of  Horace’s Epodes, Odes, and Carmen Saeculare (University of Oklahoma Press, 2020). She is a professor of classics at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.

Praising McCarter’s achievement, Judge Anna Deeny Morales writes: “In the introduction to Stephanie McCarter’s magnificent translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, she writes that she has sought to produce a ‘poetic rendering […] in a modern idiom accessible to students, general readers, and specialists alike.’ What is evident in her use of the term ‘modern idiom’ is that for McCarter, modern is multiple and multitemporal, as she makes use of, for example, anachronisms as well as contemporary words. McCarter also yields a new reading of this classic by illuminating, as she explains, Ovid’s sensibilities regarding gender and gendered violence. But the true brilliance, that is, the true reading, the accessibility, of McCarter’s tapestry lies in her use of poetic form. McCarter opens her translation with a pounding iambic pentameter, as if drums are beating to announce ‘The Creation of the World,’ but also that Ovid’s creation is now in someone else’s hands: the translator’s. McCarter’s rhythmic force then transfigures in textured waves of ever-shifting accentuations throughout the 608-page volume only to conclude with the original structured rhythm. Throughout, McCarter produces gorgeous basso continuo undertones juxtaposed against sharp and high-pitched rhymes. Such formal elements of the translation ultimately represent McCarter’s interpretation of Metamorphoses and the art of translation itself—that humble human craft that has the capacity to stand against and despite the will of gods, power, and time. McCarter has produced her own masterpiece that ‘Jove’s wrath cannot / destroy, nor flame, nor steel, nor gnawing time.’ ‘My name,’ she writes, ‘can’t be erased.’” 

Stephanie McCarter 2023 Prize