Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Best Translated Poetry of 2008: Finalists

Along with Three Percent's recent announcement of the shortlist for the Best Translated Book of 2008, the shortlist for the Best Translated Poetry of 2008 was also announced. Although I enjoy reading poetry in translation (it's a wonderful way to discover new styles and unfamiliar ideas), I think of it as quite separate from the original text. As a literary form, poetry is reliant on the sound of the individual words, the overall rhythm of the original language, and lots of other things (syllabic sounds, sentence/phrase construction, wordplay ...) that are virtually impossible to translate. While these factors apply to all translations, they are particularly dominant in the case of poetry. That doesn't mean there aren't beautiful translations of poetry. Obviously, there are. It just means, at least to me, that a good poetry translation is a standalone work of art, inspired and informed by the original, perhaps, but ultimately autonomous.

Here is the list of finalists:
  • Essential Poems and Writings by Robert Desnos, translated from the French by Mary Ann Caws, Terry Hale, Bill Zavatsky, Martin Sorrell, Jonathan Eburne, Katherine Connelly, Patricia Terry, and Paul Auster (Black Widow)
  • You Are the Business by Caroline Dubois, translated from the French by Cole Swensen (Burning Deck)
  • As It Turned Out by Dmitry Golynko, translated from the Russian by Eugene Ostashevsky, Rebecca Bella, and Simona Schneider (Ugly Duckling)
  • For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut by Takashi Hiraide, translated from the Japanese by Sawako Nakayasu (New Directions)
  • Poems of A.O. Barnabooth by Valery Larbaud, translated from the French by Ron Padgett and Bill Zavatsky (Black Widow)
  • Night Wraps the Sky by Vladimir Mayakovsky, translated from the Russian by Katya Apekina, Val Vinokur, and Matvei Yankelevich, and edited by Michael Almereyda (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • A Different Practice by Fredrik Nyberg, translated from the Swedish by Jennifer Hayashida (Ugly Duckling)
  • EyeSeas by Raymond Queneau, translated from the French by Daniela Hurezanu and Stephen Kessler (Black Widow)
  • Peregrinary by Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki, translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston (Zephyr)
  • Eternal Enemies by Adam Zagajewski, translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

No comments: