The final selection of nominees for the Canadian Griffin Poetry Prize shortlists the recent translation of works by Tadeusz Różewicz. Joanna Trzeciak transcribed a collection of his poems into English under the title Sobbing superpower
The laureates of the Griffin Poetry Prize are to be announced on the 7th of June, 2012, and the finalists meet for a reading of poems on the preceeding evening.
Scott Griffin, founder of The Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry and David Young, trustee, announced the International and Canadian shortlist for this year’s prize on the 10th of April, 2012. Judges Heather McHugh (USA), David O’Meara (Canada) and Fiona Sampson (England) each read 481 books of poetry, from 37 countries, including 19 translations. Apart from the Polish title, other works shortlisted in the selection include David Harsent’s Night, Yusef Komunyakaa’s The Chameleon Couch and November by Sean O'Brien.
Released by the W.W. Norton & Company in 2011, Sobbing superpower: Selected Poems of Tadeusz Różewicz is accompanied by an introduction from Edward Hirsch, an American poet and critic. Hirsch names Różewicz an "Anti-poet, who speaks the truth in a ruthless manner, even if this truth is painful". The critic goes on to call him "A poet of dark refusals. A naked, impure poet. A poet speaking from the margins", and a "bemused seer of nothingness."
The collection borrows its title from the poem Sobbing Superpower, which was released in the Szara Strefa (Grey Zone) volume in 2002.
In a Summary released by W.W. Norton & Company, the collection is described with the following words:
Trzeciak’s stripped-down translation (as her foreword explains) tries to convey both Różewicz’s plain speech and his frequently intricate allusion to writers and works from Polish, German, Russian, and English, among them Franz Kafka and Ezra Pound. ‘Of course I try to write/ light carefree / even with my left foot/ but it’s tethered to a stone,’ a recent poem complains in a poetry able to incorporate almost anything, from headlines to the simplest sentences a child might say, which a disillusioned adult might need to hear again: ‘this is a man/ this is a tree this is bread// people eat to live.’
The Judges’ Citation following the announcement of the Griffith Poetry Prize select finalists reads:
(…) Różewicz is that rare character – skeptic as full of passion as of intelligence, of warmth as wariness. Thanks to Trzeciak’s deft, deferential translation, English readers see his place among stars of his Central-European generation – Herbert, Szymborska, Popa, Holub – poets who illustrate the power of a single plainsong to be heard over milling mobs; one sensibility to outweigh hours of broadcast nonsense; one oddball to resist the prefixed troopers; one poem’s power to outlast the props of all sub-supers, super-subs. (…)
The seven finalists – four International and three Canadian – are invited to read in Toronto at Koerner Hall at The Royal Conservatory in the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, 273 Bloor Street West, Toronto on Wednesday, June 6th. They are each awarded $10,000 for their participation in the Shortlist Readings.
The winners, announced at the Griffin Poetry Prize Awards evening on Thursday, June 7th, will each be awarded $65,000.
Joanna Trzeciak is a young translator of Polish literature. Notably, she has transcribed into English the Miracle Fair: Selected poems of Wisława Szymborska (2011), which won her the Heldt Translation Prize. Trzeciak also translated the writings of Stanisław Lem. She lives in the US, in Cleveland, Ohio.
Griffith Poetry Prize event details:
• 6th of June, 7:30 pm - 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize Shortlist Readings:
Koerner Hall, Telus Centre for Performance and Learning, The Royal Conservatory of Music, Bloor Street, Toronto
• 7th of June, 2012 - 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize Winners Announced:
Stone Distillery, 55 Mill Street, Toronto
Sobbing superpower. Selected Poems of Tadeusz Różewicz
translated by: Joanna Trzeciak
introduction by: Edward Hirsch
published by: W.W. Norton & Company 2011
165 x 245, 368 pgs, hardcover