Poetry in Translation

Thought this looked really interesting. I have new books for my list now. I think translating is just so difficult, such a delicate balancing act. (Perhaps all poetry is a translation is a new thought! )

Announcing the Sarah Maguire Prize Shortlist

2 February 2021

The Poetry Translation Centre is pleased to announce the shortlist for the inaugural Sarah Maguire Prize for Poetry in Translation.

The Poetry Translation Centre (PTC) launched the Sarah Maguire Prize for Poetry in Translation to recognise the best book of poetry by a living poet from Africa, Asia, Latin America or the Middle East published in English translation and to champion the art of poetry in translation.

In its first year the prize has been judged by the poets and translators Alireza AbizIda Hadjivayanis and Leo Boix

The shortlist features books translated from Japanese, Arabic, Korean, Spanish and Chinese. The selection celebrates both the best of modern poetry from across the globe and showcases a range of different translation methodologies highlighting excellence in literary translation. In choosing their shortlist the judges looked for books which speak to UK audiences, but which maintained the unique spark of their original texts. The shortlisted books are:

Factory Girls by Takako Arai

Translated from Japanese by Jeffrey Angles, Jen Crawford, Carol Hayes, Rina Kikuchi, You Nakai and Sawako Nakayasu. (Published by Action Books, 2019)

A Boat to Lesbos and other poems by Nouri Al-Jarrah

Translated from Arabic by Camilo Gómez-Rivas and Allison Blecker. (Published by Banipal Books, 2018)

Incomprehensible Lesson by Fawzi Karim

In versions by Anthony Howell after translations from the Arabic made by the author. (Published by Carcanet Press Ltd, 2019)

Hysteria by Kim Yideum

Translated from Korean by Jake Levine, Soeun Seo & Hedgie Choi. (Published by Action Books, 2019)

Tiawanaku: Poems from the Mother Coqa by Judith Santopietro

Translated from Spanish by Ilana Luna. (Published by Orca Libros, 2019)

Anniversary Snow by Yang Lian

Translated from Chinese by Brian Holton with further translations by WN Herbert, L. Leigh, Pascale Petit, Fiona Sampson, George Szirtes and Joshua Weiner. (Published by Shearsman Books, 2019)

Alireza Abiz, poet and chair of judges, said: “Translation of poetry is a labour of love. Translating poetry from other cultures, especially from those less represented in the anglophone world, not only gives translated poets more exposure, it also enriches English poetry.” 

Media contact

If you would like further information, or to arrange an interview with the PTC or one of the judges, please contact Vicki Berwick at vicki@vickiberwickpr.com.

Images of the shortlisted books, poets and translators as well as the judges and Sarah Maguire are available for press use here: 

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/17mCCImYoe3w76EG8ikEoVExo22Ppefit?usp=sharing

Notes to Editors

‘The PTC will publish The Sarah Maguire Prize 2020 Anthology to accompany the prize showcasing the five shortlisted poets and their translators, with selected poems from each of the nominated publications. The prize anthology will be published on the 2nd February.

The winning poets and translators will share a £3,000 prize fund.

The prize will be announced in an online event with the judging panel on Thursday 25 March – reserve a place here to watch live: https://sarahmaguireprize2020.eventbrite.com

A public online event Translating Poetries – The Sarah Maguire Prize Shortlist, will be held at the StAnza Poetry Festival – 19:30, Monday, 8 March 2021: stanzapoetry.org/festival/events/translating-poetries

The Sarah Maguire Prize for Poetry in Translation is supported by the Estate of Sarah Maguire, the British Council, the Garrick Charitable Trust, and the kind donations of the friends of Sarah Maguire.

The Poetry Translation Centre gives the best poems from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East a new life in the English language; to better understand and celebrate the diverse communities who have made their home in the UK; and to enrich the English poetic tradition through translation.

The poet Sarah Maguire (1957-2017) was a champion of international poetry. In the mid-1990s, Sarah was approached by the British Council to be the first writer they sent on outreach trips to Palestine (1996) and Yemen (1998). It was on these visits, encountering Arabic poetry, that Maguire developed her passion for poetry translation. In 2004 she established the Poetry Translation Centre and remained its director until shortly before her death.

The Sarah Maguire Prize for Poetry in Translation was established with the support of Sarah’s family and friends to showcase the very best contemporary poetry from around the world, and to champion the art of poetry translation. The prize will be held biennially and awarded to the best book of poetry by a living poet in English translation published in the last two years. The inaugural 2020 prize was open to entries from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. From 2020 on, the prize will be open to poets from anywhere beyond Europe. The books may be published anywhere in the world.

The Judges

The Chair of our judges is Alireza Abiz, an Iranian poet, literary critic and award-winning translator. He has translated leading English language poets including W.B. Yeats, Ted Hughes and Allen Ginsberg into Persian. Abiz has written extensively on Persian contemporary literature and culture and published five collections of poetry. His sixth collection, The Desert Monitor, is forthcoming. 

Ida Hadjivayanis is a translator originally from Zanzibar. She has lived in Dar es Salaam, Paris, Maseru, Conakry, Khartoum and Rome. She studied at the National University of Lesotho, Middlesex University and SOAS. Hadjivayanis is the author of Alisi ndani ya nchi ya ajabu, a Swahili translation of Lewis Caroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. She is currently involved in the production of the first nthology of Swahili translations. 

Leo Boix is a Latino British poet, translator and journalist based in the UK. He has published two collections in Spanish, Un lugarpropio and Mar de noche, and has been included in many anthologies, such as Ten: Poets of the New Generation and Why Poetry?. His English poems have appeared in Poetry, The Poetry Review, Modern Poetry in Translation, PN Review and elsewhere. Boix is a fellow of The Complete Works program and co-director of ‘Invisible Presence’, a scheme to nurture Latino poets in the UK.

The Shortlisted Books

Factory Girls by Takako Arai

Translated from Japanese by Jeffrey Angles, Jen Crawford, Carol Hayes, Rina Kikuchi, You Nakai and Sawako Nakayasu. (Published by Action Books, 2019)

Factory Girls is a vivid depiction of the world of women workers in Japan’s textile industry. The poet herself grew up in and around a small silk weaving factory her father owned and many of the poems in this collection are about the lives of the women workers she had known growing up.

A Boat to Lesbos and other poems by Nouri Al-Jarrah

Translated from Arabic by Camilo Gómez-Rivas and Allison Blecker (Published by Banipal Books, 2018)

A Boat to Lesbos and other poems invites the reader to experience the most unbearable agony of hopelessness in the face of the most brutal events happening in our time. From the first line, the poem calls upon us to see what we have tried so hard to look away from: ‘Suffering Syrians, beautiful Syrians, Syrian brothers fleeing death’.

Incomprehensible Lesson by Fawzi Karim

In versions by Anthony Howell after translations from the Arabic made by the author. (Published by Carcanet Press Ltd, 2019)

Fawzi Karim writes about the homeland, exile and the sense of belonging. He reveals conflicting sentiments toward his Iraqi homeland and his Arabic poetry tradition. His relationship with his homeland is not that of a loving nostalgia, as in the case of many exiled poets. It is agonising, painful and hurt.

Hysteria by Kim Yideum

Translated from Korean by Jake Levine, Soeun Seo and Hedgie Choi. (Published by Action Books, 2019)

Hysteria is lively, confrontational, energetic and down to earth language best serves the dark sense of humour and the narrative quality of most of the poems. Yideum writes with an exceptional ease about a wide range of everyday topics and different sentiments moving from fury to laughter, humorous to tragic in a single poem.

Tiawanaku: Poems from the Mother Coqa by Judith Santopietro

Translated from Spanish by Ilana Luna. (Published by Orca Libros, 2019)

Tiawanaku, Poems from the Mother Coqa is a journey into the geography and history of indigenous Andean territories and a reimagination of ancient Latin American cultures, languages and spiritualities. It is a fascinating representation of indigenous people and their relationship with their environment.

Anniversary Snow by Yang Lian

Translated from Chinese by Brian Holton with further translations by WN Herbert, L. Leigh, Pascale Petit, Fiona Sampson, George Szirtes and Joshua Weiner. (Published by Shearsman Books, 2019)This collection is grounded to the historical roots of Chinese culture, poetry and art, but goes beyond it, reinterpreting with poise and intelligence the very essence of our existence, from the changing landscape that surrounds us, the appeal of the natural world and the inner beauty of language, its 

About Rebecca Gethin

Rebecca Gethin is a poet and a novelist. Cinnamon Press published her third collection, All the Time in the World in 2017. Another pamphlet is forthcoming with Three Drops Press. Her second novel, What the horses heard, was published by Cinnamon Press in May 2014. Her second poetry collection - A Handful of Water - was published by Cinnamon in 2013. Her first - River is the Plural of Rain - was published by Oversteps Books in 2009. Her novel Liar Dice won the Cinnamon Press Novel Writing Award in 2010 and was published in 2011. She lives on Dartmoor and writes occasional pieces about wildlife and nature. Her poems appear in a variety of poetry magazines and in several anthologies.
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2 Responses to Poetry in Translation

  1. When this came on, the ad attached within it it was headlined Why Canadians Don’t Win Jackpots – I thought that was the article, about why we don’t win poetry competitions!! I thought Aha, now I’ll find out why I don’t win ever!! Turns out it was an ad for the Lottery (of course!) so I’m back to square one! Which is Write, Roz, write!! Thanks for this Rebecca, very interesting + the revelation!
    Love, roz

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