Sunday, March 15, 2015

Award News: Spender Prize Winners & the Russian Prize Longlist

Gray weekends with rain and snow flurries seem to make my mind wander… making today the perfect time for a cup of tea and a bit of prize news from the last several days:

Poetry’s not really my beat but I thoroughly enjoyed reading the winning poems from the 2014 season of the Joseph Brodsky/Stephen Spender Prize, which recognizes translations of poetry from the Russian. The three winners are:
  • Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky won first prize for their translation of Anastasia Afanasieva’s “Untitled,” which, in the words of the translators, “tells of loss and exile following the 2014 war in Eastern Ukraine.”
  • Second prize went to Peter Oram for “White Day,” Arseny Tarkovsky’s “Белый день,” into which Oram inserted italicized lines to give it the feel of an English folksong. (I’ve borrowed here from Oram’s description.) I love the effect.
  • I’m especially excited that Katherine Young won third prize for her translation of a poem by Xenia Emelyanova, “Spring rain beats on broken branches.” Kate read several of her translations of Emelyanova’s poems at last November’s ALTA conference and they were wonderful. In her commentary to the translation, Kate writes, “I chose this poem because it reminds me of the playground in the apartment courtyard where I lived in Moscow – the poem so perfectly captures the often-melancholy air of those spots.” I think the poem’s last lines evoke, beautifully, the feeling of being airborne.
The Spender Prize Web site includes judges’ reports, which are fun reading for anyone interested in poetry and/or translation. Congratulations to all the winners, as well as the translators who were commended for their entries: Peter Clark (for Andrei Voznesensky), Robert Isaf (for Alexander Blok), and Vlanes (for Valery Brusov). Maksymchuk and Rosochinsky (for Vladimir Gandelsman), and Oram (for Tarkovsky) were also commended for second entries.

The Penguin Book of Russian PoetryBy the way! The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry, edited by Robert Chandler, Boris Dralyuk, and Irina Mashinski, is now out. I heard lots of translations from the book during my trip to Oxford and London in 2013 (previous post) so have been looking forward to the book for, well, years.

The Russian Prize (Русская премия) longlist is far, far messier because it’s three lists—poetry, short prose, and long prose—and each list has 13 or more entries. The Russian Prize is open to writers who write in Russian but live outside Russia. I think the only writer I’ve read at any length (meaning a full book) is Evgenii Kliuev, whose novel Something Else for You (previous post) I enjoyed a few years ago: Kliuev is on the RP list for a book of poetry with the strangely appealing title Музыка на Титанике (Music on the Titanic). I’ve also read a few pieces by Bakhyt Kenzheev and Elena Suntsova, both of whom I know a bit from book fairs and events.

As for prose, there are a few familiar names, though, yikes, I haven’t read any of them yet: Platon Besedin for the collection Рёбра (Ribs); Ulyana Gamayun, whose Осень в Декадансе (Autumn in Decadence) is also longlisted for the National Bestseller; Aleksei Makushinsky, whose Пароход в Аргентину (Steamship to Argentina) was a finalist for last year’s Big Book award and won third prize in reader voting; and Maria Rybakova for Черновик человека (Rough Draft of a Person, I suspect… or at least want to think). Rybakova won the Russian Prize’s second prize award for short fiction in 2012 for her Гнедич (Gnedich), which is on the way from Glagoslav Publications this fall, in Elena Dimov’s translation. Some of Dimov’s excerpts from Gnedich, dated 2012, are available here.

Disclaimers and the Like. The usual for knowing some of these people.

Up Next. Evgeny Vodolzakin’s Solovyov and Larionov and Lena Eltang’s Cartagena, a complex murder mystery of sorts that I’m still reading slowly to appreciate all the details. Plus maybe a novella or two…


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