Monday, 16 November 2009
Here’s the get-together of books shortlisted for the Popescu Prize for European poetry in translation. The ‘winner’ gets his/her prize at an event on Thursday. Dante, meet Constantine Cavafy – oh, I know your work well, I’m so pleased at last to – Gabriela, come and join us – so sorry, Ms Shvarts, that your flight was delayed – Monsieur Ponge, I’m afraid if you must smoke your cheroots you’ll have to . . . oh, never mind.
There’s a magic about this assembly that no other prize in this season of prizes can match. It’s to do with the poems made available here having been written over several hundred years, and in many languages; and it’s to do with celebrating the names in small-size print, the translators, whose work always serves something other and larger than themselves.