Sunday, March 13, 2016

2015 Compass Award Results

I don’t read nearly as much Russian poetry as I should so the Compass Award, an annual translation contest, is a welcome way to get me thinking about poetry, one poet at a time. Boris Slutsky was the poet to translate for the 2015 contest year; winners were announced in early January. I somehow missed that, most likely thanks to my working-through-the-holidays haze, but announcements about yesterday’s ceremony and reading in New York City woke me up. I wish I could have gone! The winners are:

First prize: Peter Oram for “Poetic Proof.” I remembered Oram’s name from last year’s Joseph Brodsky/Stephen Spender Prize, where Oram won second place with a very striking translation. (Previous post)
Second prize: Robin Kallsen for “Twentieth Century”
Third prize: Robin Kallsen for “There is a God”
Honorable Mention: Lawrence Bogoslaw for “People Fall Into 2 Camps”

The winning translations will be published in Cardinal Points Journal (vol. 6, March 2016) and the Storony sveta literary annual, in February 2017.

For more on Slutsky, I’ll turn things over to Jamie Olson, who’s posted twice about him. Click here for Jamie’s “Holding a Gaze,” which translates “О прямом взгляде,” and here for some thoughts on how Slutsky’s poetry reflects the times he lived in. Writes Jamie, “Throughout his work, Slutsky seems haunted by Soviet history and therefore intent upon revisiting it so as to comprehend it. By candidly examining his own past and thoughts, he emerges as both judge and interlocutor, providing an ethical context in which author and reader can interpret events together.”

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Compass chose Bella Akhmadulina as the poet for the 2016 award. Just for fun, to get you ready, let’s reprise this piece by Alexander Anichkin from Cardinal Points, about Akhmadulina’s “По улице моей” (“Along this street of mine”).

Up Next: Aleksandr Grigorenko’s Mebet then Boris Akunin’s Black City, a Fandorin novel that takes place in Baku (one of my favorite places to visit for work when I lived in Moscow). After the adrenaline rush of meeting three deadlines in two weeks—and a lovely bouquet it was, with a novel, a short story, and an article—it’s nice to hang out with Erast Petrovich for a little while and enjoy a different kind of adrenaline rush. I’ve got a nice pile of books to choose from after that…

Disclaimers: Irina Mashinski editor-in-chief of StoSvet, which runs this award, is a wonderful colleague.


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