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Fawzi Karim shortlisted for the Sarah Maguire Prize for Poetry in Translation

Thursday, 4 Feb 2021

Sarah Maguire Poetry Prize We're so pleased to share that Incomprehensible Lesson by the late Fawzi Karim, in versions by Anthony Howell, has been shortlisted for the inaugural Sarah Maguire Prize for Poetry in Translation. Fawzi passed away in 2019 at the age of 73.

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 has been judged by the poets and translators Alireza Abiz, Ida 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, Liang Lizhen, 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.”

The winning book will be announced at a public online event on Thursday 25 March. The successful poet and translators will share a £3,000 prize fund. Over the next six weeks leading up to the prizegiving, the PTC will focus on a different shortlisted book, sharing poems and interviews online.

Find out more about the prize here.
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Fawzi Karim’s poetry has been widely translated, among other languages into French, Swedish, Italian and English. Carcanet published Plague Lands and Other Poems (2011), which was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

This new selection, translated by Anthony Howell working from the author’s own versions, explores the experience of becoming at home in London, passing from a sense of exile to a sense of uneasy belonging. In his introduction the poet is tactful, candid, touching on some of the most urgent themes of our time including exile and the possibilities of home.

Between the poet, a major literary presence in his language, and his translator, a poet of many talents and skills, a kind of dialogue exists. The accommodations between two traditions formally uneasy in one another's company is compelling to read. The poet’s and the translator’s contrasting memories meet and confer at the level of language and image.




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