The Corneliu M Popescu Prize for Poetry Translation 2009 awarded to Randall Couch

9th December 2009

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popescu-prize-09-winner Randall Couch receiving The Corneliu M Popescu Prize for Poetry Translation from judges Stephen Romer (in the background) and Elaine Feinstein The winner of the Corneliu M Popescu Prize for Poetry Translation 2009 was announced by the two judges, Elaine Feinstein and Stephen Romer, in the person of Randall Couch. He received the Corneliu M Popescu Prize for his translation from the Spanish of ‘Madwomen’ by Gabriela Mistral (University of Chicago Press 2008). The announcement was made during the Award Ceremony organised by the Ratiu Foundation, on Thursday 19 November 2009, at the Ratiu Foundation building in London’s Manchester Square. The opening remarks were made Nicolae Ratiu, Chairman of the Ratiu Foundation and Judith Palmer, Poetry Society’s Director. With this occasion, Nicolae Ratiu expressed his delight at hosting the Award Ceremony, given that the Corrneliu M Popescu Prize was initiated in the early 1980s by his father, Romanian democracy campaigner, businessman and humanitarian Ion Ratiu. Nicolae Ratiu went on to salute all the past and present organisers of the Prize, and especially poet Alan Brownjohn, a great friend of Romania and Romanian culture, who, as chairman of the Poetry Society at that time, saw to the first edition of the Prize becoming reality in 1983. A shortlist of eight titles was selected for the Corneliu M Popescu Prize for Poetry Translation 2009 by Elaine Feinstein and Stephen Romer. The two judges confessed to the difficulty of their task, and concluded that their main criterion had to be bringing a new experience to an English reader. Gabriela Mistral (1889–1957) is one of the most important and enigmatic figures in Latin American literature of the last century. The poems collected in the ‘Madwomen’ volume are among her most complex and compelling, exploring facets of the self in extremis. Mistral’s poetic women confront situations to which no sane response exists. Through the masks of madness the poet voices transgression—questioning power, gender, survivorship, and the cost of her own worldwide fame. This groundbreaking collection presents poems from Mistral’s final published volume as well as new editions of posthumous work, featuring the first English-language appearance of many essential poems. 'Madwomen' is available from good book shops and on the internet from the University of Chicago Press or The submissions for this year’s Prize have exceeded past editions, with a total of 85 books entered from 24 countries. The shortlisted books were: • Unfinished Ode to Mud by Francis Ponge, translated by Beverley Bie Brahic. French / France (CB Editions). • Against Heaven by Dulce Maria Loynaz, translated by James O’Connor. Spanish / Cuba (Carcanet). • Poems by Oktay Rifat, translated by Ruth Christie and Richard McKane. Turkish / Turkey (Anvil). • Courts of Air and Earth, various, translated by Trevor Joyce. Middle and Early-Modern Irish / Ireland (Shearsman Books). • Birdsong on the Seabed by Elena Shvarts, translated by Sasha Dugdale. Russian / Russia (Bloodaxe). • Rime by Dante Alighieri, translated by JG Nichols and Anthony Mortimer. Italian / Italy (OneWorld Classics). • Selected Poems by CP Cavafy, translated by Avi Sharon. Greek / Greece (Penguin Classics). The Corneliu M Popescu Prize for Poetry Translation (awarded every other year) is organised by the Poetry Society and sponsored by Ratiu Foundation. The prize is £1,500 and the competition is open to collections of poetry translated from a European language into English. Previous winners include David Constantine’s translation of ‘Lighter than Air’ by Hans Magnus Enzensberger (in 2003); Adam J Sorkin and Lidia Vianu’s translation of ‘The Bridge’ by Marin Sorescu (in 2005); and Ilmar Lehtpere’s translation of ‘The Drums of Silence’ by Kristiina Ehin (in 2007). The Prize is named after Corneliu M Popescu, translator of the work of one of Romania’s leading poets, Mihai Eminescu, into English. Popescu was killed in the violent earthquake of 4 March 1977, aged 19. The Prize was initiated in the early 1980s by Ion Ratiu, the well known Romanian politician, businessman, philanthropist, champion of democracy, and supporter of the arts. More details on and