Trent Walker wins 2024 Khyentse Foundation Prize for Outstanding Translation

- through Henry Oudin

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Professor Trent Walker. Image courtesy of Khyentse Foundation

The Khyentse Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by revered Bhutanese lama, filmmaker and author Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, announced that it has awarded this year's Khyentse Foundation Prize for Outstanding Translation to Professor Trent Walker, for his book. Until the time of Nirvana: Buddhist chants from Cambodia (Shambhala Publications, 2022).*

« Until the hour of Nirvana, the first collection of traditional Khmer Buddhist poetry available in English, features translations of 45 Khmer Dharma chants whose haunting melodies have inspired Cambodian Buddhist communities for generations,” the Khyentse Foundation said in a statement shared with BDG. “Based on 15 years of research into oral and written traditions in Cambodia, the book focuses on a body of poems from the XNUMXth to XNUMXth centuries that are still sung today in daily prayers or during nighttime rituals. »

A specialist in Southeast Asian Buddhist music, literature, and manuscripts, Walker is an assistant professor of Southeast Asian studies and Thai professor of Theravada Buddhism in the Department of Asian Languages ​​and Cultures at the University of Michigan. Professor Walker has published Khmer, Laotian, Pali, Thai and Vietnamese Buddhist texts and recitation practices.

“Many of these texts were transcribed by the translator from cassettes or bark paper manuscripts, and appear in print for the first time in this volume,” added the Khyentse Foundation. “Essays and notes situating these local compositions in a broader Buddhist context accompany the translations. »


Professor Walker was nominated for the award by Natalie Gummer, professor of religious studies at Beloit College in Wisconsin, and her choice was unanimously approved by the Khyentse Foundation's five-member selection committee.

« Until the hour of Nirvana is a revolutionary translation,” observed Professor Gummer. “Not only does this make a fascinating part of Cambodian Buddhist literature widely available for the first time in English, but it also renders the vocal qualities of these chants, consistent with their composition and usage, and provides rich context for their origin Buddhist and their use. their ritual recitation. Trent Walker sets a new standard for translations aimed at capturing the power of performative texts.

The Khyentse Foundation Award for Outstanding Buddhist Translation was established in 2011 to recognize and encourage excellence in the field of translation that contributes to the accessibility of Buddhist wisdom and literature in the public domain. To be eligible for the prize, works must have been published within the two years preceding the prize and may include English translations of any of the classical languages ​​of Buddhism: Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan and Chinese.

Taken from

The Khyentse Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche in 2001. Its goal is to promote the teaching of the Buddha and support all traditions of Buddhist study and practice. The foundation's activities include major text preservation and translation projects, support for monastic colleges in Asia, a global scholarship and awards program, and the development of Buddhist studies at major universities, as well as training and the development of Buddhist teachers and the development of new modes of education inspired by the Dharma. for kids.

The Khyentse Foundation's achievements over the past 20 years include: more than 15 million pages of Buddhist texts preserved and made available online; education provided to the children of more than 1 families; support for Buddhist studies at more than 000 major universities through endowed chairs and professorships, graduate support, and the establishment of Buddhist study centers; more than $35 million in sponsorship awarded for Buddhist teacher training; sacred Buddhist texts translated into more than 15 languages, thanks to the efforts of 84000: Translation of the words of the Buddha, the Kumarajiva Project and the Khyentse Vision Project; more than $1,8 million in funding awarded to support Buddhism in its metropolises, including local partnerships to revitalize interest in Buddhism in India; more than 2 scholarships and awards in recognition of excellence in Buddhist study and practice; support for more than 000 monks and nuns to maintain the tradition of Buddhist scholarship in a monastic setting; and over 3 open access Ashoka and Trisong grants distributed to support Dharma and wellness programs.

*Book Review: Until the time of Nirvana: Buddhist chants from Cambodia (BDG)

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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