Two Poetry Collections from Arabic Make Inaugural Sarah Maguire Prize Shortlist

The Poetry Translation Centre today announced the shortlist for the inaugural Sarah Maguire Prize for Poetry in Translation. Two collections translated or adapted from Arabic made the list:

The 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 is being judged by the three poets and translators: Alireza Abiz, Ida Hadjivayanis, and Leo Boix.

The six-book shortlist features books translated from Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Chinese, as well as two from Arabic. Organizers write: “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:

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)

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)

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, Liang Lizhen, Pascale Petit, Fiona Sampson, George Szirtes and Joshua Weiner. (Published by Shearsman Books, 2019)

In a prepared statement, judging chair Alireza Abiz 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.”

The winning book will be announced on Thursday, March 25, 2021; the winning poet and translator will share a £3,000 prize.