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The Little Box

Selected Poems

Vasko Popa

Edited by Sasha Dugdale

Translated by Anne Pennington and Francis R. Jones

Foreword by Ted Hughes

Categories: 20th Century, Middle Europe, Translation, War writings
Imprint: Carcanet Classics
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (160 pages)
(Due Aug 2022)
9781800172180
£14.99 £13.49
  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • Vasko Popa was one of Europe’s most significant and exciting twentieth-century poets; a pre-war surrealist, the channelling of his experiences of war and imprisonment brought him to the forefront of a literary flowering in Yugoslavia. In poems of object and symbol he draws myth, folk belief, charms, riddles and spells into limpid conjunction, and his famous cycles of poems, such as The Quartz Pebble, are miniature epic works, each creating ‘the terms of a universe’. He blends surrealism and an awareness of war and post-war experiences to create utterly distinctive and original poetry.

    In 2022, the centenary of his birth, Carcanet is publishing a new Selected to introduce this poet, described by Ted Hughes as ‘a Universe passing through a Universe’, to a new generation of readers.
    Vasko Popa
    Vasko Popa (1922–1991) was born in the Banat district of Yugoslavia. During World War II he fought with a partisan group; afterwards he studied in Vienna and Bucharest before completing his education at the University of Belgrade. He was elected to the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1972 and ... read more
    Sasha Dugdale
    Sasha Dugdale has published five collections of poems with Carcanet, most recently Deformations in 2020. She won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2016 and in 2017 she was awarded a Cholmondeley Prize for Poetry. She is former editor of Modern Poetry in Translation and poet-in-residence at St John’s ... read more
    Ted Hughes
    Ted Hughes (1930–1998) was Britain’s most celebrated poet. He was also a notable critical writer, especially on poets like Vasko Popa and János Pilinszky who were close to his spirit. With Daniel Weissbort he founded the magazine Modern Poetry in Translation in 1965; he was director of the first Poetry International ... read more
    Anne Pennington
    Anne Pennington (1934–1981) was a Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford where she held the university’s Chair of Comparative Slavonic Philology. Her translations include Poems by Blaže Koneski (1979) and Vasko Popa's anthology The Golden Apple (Anvil, 1980 and 2010), both with Andrew Harvey; Marko the Prince: Serbo-Croat Heroic Songs (1984) ... read more
    Francis R. Jones
    Francis R. Jones translates poetry from various European languages – especially from Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian and Dutch into English, though he has also worked from Russian, Hungarian and Caribbean creoles, and into Geordie and Yorkshire dialect. Among his solo book-length translations are six collections by Ivan V. Lalić. Jones’s poetry translations have won ... read more
    Awards won by Sasha Dugdale Short-listed, 2021 The Derek Walcott Poetry Prize
    (Deformations)
    Short-listed, 2020 T.S. Eliot Prize (Deformations) Winner, 2017 The Poetry Book Society Winter Choice Award (Joy) Winner, 2017 SOA Cholmondeley Award Winner, 2016 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem (for 'Joy') Winner, 2003 Eric Gregory Award
    Praise for Sasha Dugdale 'An ambitious and soliloquising work... By setting the Trojan War in the 21st century, exploring the dynamics of political power during a siege, and dramatising connections with strangers on foreign land, Dugdale weaves in strands of contemporary concern about neocolonialism and the refugee crisis.'

    Isabelle Baafi, Magma

    'The brutality and the beauty are left to stand in uncomfortable juxtaposition in poems which repeatedly situate themselves in scenes of ambiguous feeling... This is the poetry of "endless small tracks", richly attuned to balance alternative perspectives and reconcile contrarious trajectories in its tiniest details'

    Joseph Turner, Oxford Review of Books

    'Dugdale is the real thing.' 

    Tristram Fane Saunders, Telegraph  

     'Deformations has the ability to change the landscape of how we talk about abuse and trauma'

    Rachel Long, Observer Books of the Year 2020

    'With it's spare, muscular language, Deformations views our distorting predilection for myth-making with no nonsense clarity' 

    John Field, T.S. Eliot Prize 
    'This is sly, subtle, elliptical work, entrapping both subject and reader in something queasily human [...] It's the sign of a poet utterly in control of her gifts. This may seem a strange thing to say about a book so filled with unreliable narrators, but in Deformations Dugdale proves hers is a voice you can trust.'

    Tristram Fane Saunder, The Telegraph, where Deformations was Poetry Book of the Month (September 2020)

    'This is writing that flows with many voices, with uncompromising acts of ethical energy, with writing that turns on itself and offers up for display its own protocols, gifts and virtù with astonishing and intricate candour and difficulty, and yet communicated in this tour de force plainstyle that judges its signifying powers to represent at the same time as breaking through, by way of its very deformation of tradition and assumption, to a moving communicableness of shared witness'

    Adam Piette, Blackbox Manifold

    'Dugdale proves herself a powerful voice by writing about visual art, poetry, and history "in reverse".

    Antony Huen, The Compass

     'Joy... is a free-wheeling and beautifully sustained portrait of grief and the truths it can convey.'
    Sarah Westcott, Artemis Poetry
    'Dugdale's skill at form is directed at containing the uncontainable death and absence which allows us to handle them, like examining insects trapped in amber'

    Lisa Kelly, Magma Poetry Review 71

    'These compelling stories of strange happenings in an almost imperceptibly strange style make your mind understand foreignness as our process. Sasha Dugdale is a wise bard and her book is a civilising read.'
    Claire Crowther in The Poetry Review
     'The categories of age, empire and (particularly) gender are shown to set unjust limits on human flourishing, and on what histories can be told. Yet Dugdale emphasises that, when oppressed subjects are allowed to express themselves, their stories might still be of willed sacrifice and genuine happiness.'
    Poetry London
       'Sometimes you read a work that is so clearly deserving of the accolades it's received that it restores your faith in things. Sasha Dugdale's 'Joy' is such a work.'
    The Poetry School
    '...a beguiling and unusual debut, its best poems at once elusive, satisfying and likely to go on being read.'
    Sean O'Brien, Times Literary Supplement
     My favourite collection this year is Sasha Digdale's 'Red House' (Carcanet Oxford Poets). I like how she has infused her British sensibility with the passion and abandon of Russian poets like Anna Akhmatova and Marina Tssvetaeva, whom she has previously translated.
    Kathryn Maris, Timeout Magazine Best of 2011
    'The sensibility The Estate reveals is intelligent and wry - as well as highly original'
    Fiona Sampson, Tower Poetry
    'Notebook is a beguiling and unusual debut, its best poems at once elusive, satisfying and likely to go on being read.'
    Times Literary Supplement
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