Romania wins European Poetry Translation Prize

8th September 2005

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MARIN SORESCU’s volume THE BRIDGE (‘Puntea’), translated from Romanian by Adam J Sorkin & Lidia Vianu, is awarded the ‘Corneliu M Popescu’ Prize for European Poetry Translation 2005

The Poetry Society London and The Ratiu Foundation UK announced the winner of the ‘Corneliu M Popescu’ Prize for European Poetry Translation 2005 on Thursday 8 September 2005, in a ceremony held at Goodenough College, London. The judges of the 2005 competition, British writers Alan Brownjohn and Mike Phillips chose ‘The Bridge’ by Marin Sorescu after a hard deliberation process, according it one of the highest distinctions for translation. It is the first time in the 22 years history of the ‘Corneliu M Popescu’ Prize that the award has gone to a translation from Romania. Congratulations to the team of translators, Adam J Sorkin & Lidia Vianu.

After the welcome address of the Director of the Poetry Society, Ms Jules Mann, and of the Director of the Goodenough College, Mr Tim Toyne Sewell, the Award Ceremony continued with a speech by Ms Ramona Mitrica, the representative of the Ratiu Foundation UK, sponsor of the Award. The prize is of £1,500 and is awarded every two years. Ms Mitrica reminded the audience of the first Awards Ceremony that took place on 16 May 1983, and of the love of culture of Ion Ratiu, the initiator of this project. Ion Ratiu (1917-2000), well known as a Romanian politician and successful businessman, was also a dedicated promoter of the study of Romanian language, culture and civilisation around the world.

Mike Phillips took the floor and praised all the 72 books submitted in the competition for the excellent quality of the translations, especially the six volumes shortlisted: ‘Love at the Full’ (Lucien Becker, tr. Christopher Pilling - Flambard) France; ‘Cuceriri Disperate / Desperate Conquests’ (Carmen Firan, tr. Julian Semilian - Editura ICR), Romania; ‘Absurd Athlete’ (Yannis Kondos, tr. David Connolly - Arc Publications) Greece; ‘The Night of Akhenaton – Selected Poems’ (Ágnes Nemes Nagy, tr. George Szirtes - Bloodaxe Books), Hungary; ‘A Voice – Selected Poems’ (Anzhelina Polonskaya, tr. Andrew Wachtel - Northwestern University Press), Russia; and ‘The Bridge’ (Marin Sorescu, tr. Adam J Sorkin and Lidia Vianu - Bloodaxe Books) Romania. A special commendation was awarded to the translation by Jill Higgs for ‘Vasily Tyorkin, a Book About a Soldier’ by Alexander Tvardovsky (Hub Editions; Russia).

Christopher Pilling, David Connolly, George Szirtes and the poet Anzhelina Polonskaya gave short readings from their books, and in the climax of the event Alan Brownjohn presented the last book in the shortlist, Marin Sorescu’s ‘The Bridge’, announcing the Judges’ decision, and calling on the translator Adam J Sorkin to present the book and to read some of Sorescu’s poems. Mr Sorkin evoked the great Romanian writer, Marin Sorescu, by a personal recollection from the times before the death of the author, while he worked on what he knew was to be his last volume.

Marin Sorescu (1936-96) was a cheerfully melancholic comic genius and one of the most original voices in Romanian literature. ‘The Bridge’ is his farewell to life – a book of wryly quizzical poems composed from his sickbed over five weeks as he waited for death to take him, his testament not just to human mortality and pain but to resistance and creative transformation.

The translators Adam J Sorkin & Lidia Vianu join a list of previous winners of the ‘Corneliu M Popescu’ Prize which includes Tony Harrison, Ewald Osers, Francis Jones and David Constantine, 2003’s winner.

Adam J Sorkin is a distinguished Professor of English at Penn State University, USA. His previous translations from Romanian include poetry by Ioana Ieronim, Liliana Ursu, Daniela Crasnaru and Mircea Cartarescu.

Lidia Vianu is a Romanian poet, novelist, critic, and translator. Former Fulbright lecturer at State University New York and the University of California, Berkeley, Lidia Vianu is a Professor of English at University of Bucharest.

‘The Bridge’ (Bloodaxe Books, January 2004, Paperback, 96 pages, ISBN: 1852245778)

For more information:
Bloodaxe Books (
Poetry Society (
Ratiu Foundation UK (