Iain Galbraith has won The Poetry Society’s Popescu European Poetry Translation Prize 2015 for his translation of Jan Wagner’s collection Self-Portrait with a Swarm of Bees, published by Arc Publications in 2015. The prize was judged this year by Olivia McCannon and Clare Pollard and supported by the British Council. Of the winning collection, the judges said:
“Galbraith converts every challenge (formal, lexical, metrical) into an opportunity, matching Wagner’s ingenuity and investment at every step, having internalized the ‘primal syntax’ so completely that everything he writes hits the mark. The result is a perfect sufficiency: a set of poems in English that somehow inhabit the same skin as the German, with their own autonomous heart and lungs.
They appear in yet another wonderful bilingual edition from Arc’s Visible Poets Series, with an illuminating introduction by Galbraith that reveals the living beauty and efficiency of his translation’s inner workings.”
Writing about the process of translation, Galbraith himself describes how “No word can afford to relax, except as enacted relaxation; each earns its place by association alone, and the whole becomes more than its sum of tiny decisions.”
The winner was chosen from a shortlist of six collections by seven translators. The judges also commended a further five collections, reflecting a strong and fascinating collection of eligible books translated from 19 languages. Judge Clare Pollard said:
“We really wanted to celebrate the number of major female poets who are now being translated into English. And it has been such an astonishing two years for German poetry – at one point an all-German shortlist didn’t look impossible! Ultimately though, we hope our selection showcases some of the variety of translated poetry being published, and is also just a list of books we would thoroughly recommend to any reader of poetry.”
A free pamphlet showcasing work from each book on the shortlist will be distributed in December 2015 as The Poetry Society aims to extend the reach of these translations and inform more readers of the wide range of high quality poetry being translated and published in English.
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