The aim of the Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award is to recognize outstanding artistic and intellectual literary achievements on the world stage which have a bearing on the world of values towards which Zbigniew Herbert’s work gravitated.

The Award also aims to promote Poland’s cultural contribution—particularly in the field of poetry—to the development of world literature as manifested in the exchange of ideas, values, and contemporary experiences.

In accordance with the Rules & Regulations endorsed by the Foundation’s Board the Award will be given annually to a living author for achievements in the field of poetry, for the entirety of his creative output. The Board can also decide to give Awards in the additional categories of essays, translation and editing.

The Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award will be the first of its kind, with a global reach, to be awarded in Poland, by a jury composed of eminent authors and literary experts.

As founders we remain convinced that the values represented by Zbigniew Herbert’s creativity, have a universal and lasting appeal. One that reaches far beyond any boundaries of time and space; well beyond a twenty-first-century world seemingly sinking ever deeper into a marasmic state of ethical and metaphysical chaos. An appeal for values that transcend the ever-diminishing presence of all that is sacred in people’s lives, the resurrection of intolerance, and at times outright hate, generated by false notions of race or political opinion. An appeal for values that stand in vehement opposition to a human existence ever more often viewed in a uniquely economic dimension.

At such times it is worth remembering courage, a trait so dear to the author of Mr Cogito.
To ponder his deep devotion to the freedom of the individual and society at large, and, though never a blind idol-worshiper, to a wilful patriotism, as well as a metaphysical perspective and belief in the dignity of the human person. But also to remember his opposition to the suffering of the individual obscuring our wider picture of the world, and a yearning that artistic creativity should serve as a “tool of compassion.”  After all, Herbert’s poetic hero asked God, for something that the author himself also craved, to be allowed to understand “other people, other languages, other sufferings…”

From amongst today’s living artists we aim to single out and celebrate those who, with artistic mastery, endeavour to seek such an understanding. Whose works bring their readership a better appreciation of the painful human condition, as well as everlasting hope.

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