Thursday, 14 May 2009

Gemino Abad wins Italy’s Top literary prize

One of the Philippines foremost contemporary poets and critics is set to be awarded Italy’s most coveted literary achievement in the Foreign Author category, the “Prize Premio Feronia - Città di Fiano 2009. for his work In Ordinary Time”

Gémino H. Abad will be conferred the distinction during the Nomination Ceremony on July 11, 2009 at the Castle of Fiano Romano, an historic place just outside Rome. Below is the letter sent to Mr. Abad by the Committe President of the Prize Premio Feronia - Città di Fiano 2009, Filippo Bettini.

Dear Professor Gémino H. Abad,

“We are particularly proud to inform you that our Committee has awarded you the Prize Premio Feronia - Città di Fiano 2009, for the section ‘Foreign Author.’

“The Prize, first created 16 years ago, has an antagonistic character as compared to other major literary awards in our Country, that are tightly bound to marketing strategies of dominant publishing houses. As an example, all official meetings of our Committee are open-door to guarantee the maximum of integrity.

“The winners of previous editions of Feronia Prize - section ‘Foreign Author’ - are: Günter Grass, Adonis and Natan Zach (ex-aequo), Leroi Jones, John M. Coetzee, Alfonso Sastre, Predrag Matvejevic, Michel Butor, Ismail Kadaré, Gao Xingjian, Roberto Fernández Retamar, Mahmud Darwish, Yvonne Vera, Dubravka Ugresic, Saadi Yousef, Kunwar Narain, Muhammad Bennis, Agotha Kristof.

“The Prize will be conferred to you during the Nomination Ceremony which will be held on July 11, 2009 at the Castle of Fiano Romano, an historic place just outside Rome. The amount of the Prize is 3,600 euros and it is subject to the restriction that you must be present in person at the Nomination Ceremony to receive it. I know, however, that during the same days you will be also invited to attend the Italian Festival ‘Mediterranea’ in Rome.

“This letter represents the official invitation for you in order to attend the Ceremony and the other ancillary meetings we are organizing to promote you and your activity in our Country. Obviously the Prize will take care of your travel expenses and of your stay in Italy…

“We strongly trust that your visit to Italy and your participation to the Nomination Ceremony will be a major event for our organization and for our Country. We really hope to have you in Italy on July.

“With best regards, Filippo Bettini, President of the Committee.”

Gémino H. Abad hails from Cebu. He earned his B.A. English from the University of the Philippines in 1964 and Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Chicago in 1970. He served the University of the Philippines in various capacities: as Secretary of the University, Secretary of the Board of Regents, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Director of the U.P. Institute of Creative Writing. For many years, he also taught English, comparative literature and creative writing at U.P. Diliman.

Abad co-founded the Philippine Literary Arts Council (PLAC) which published Caracoa, a poetry journal in English. His other works include Fugitive Emphasis (poems, 1973); In Another Light (poems and critical essays, 1976); A Formal Approach to Lyric Poetry (critical theory, 1978); The Space Between (poems and critical essays, 1985); Poems and Parables (1988); Index to Filipino Poetry in English, 1905-1950 (with Edna Zapanta Manlapaz, 1988) and State of Play (letter-essays and parables, 1990). He edited landmark anthologies of Filipino poetry in English, among them Man of Earth (1989), A Native Clearing (1993) and A Habit of Shores: Filipino Poetry and Verse from English, ’60s to the ’90s (1999).

The University of the Philippines has elevated Abad to the rank of University Professor, the highest academic rank awarded by the university to an exemplary faculty member. He currently sits on the Board of Advisers of the U.P. Institute of Creative Writing and teaches creative writing as Emeritus University Professor at the College of Arts and Letters, U.P. Diliman.

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