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Duffy, Hughes, Eliot and Translation


This week, Carol Ann Duffy launched her new poetry prize: the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry for

the most exciting contribution to poetry in that year.

It’s a generous gesture from the new laureate, though questions have been asked about whether we need another poetry award. The test will be the shortlists: if they copy those of the other prizes, the Ted Hughes Award will be pointless; if they’re as broad as the outlined criteria, it could be worthwhile:

Eligible works include, but are not limited to, poetry collections (for adults or children), individual published poems, radio poems, verse translations, verse dramas, libretti, film poems, and public poetry pieces.

It’s particularly encouraging that translations will be in the running. Translation is an art largely unsung in the UK. Indeed, the rules for the TS Eliot Prize stipulate:

Books which contain more than twenty percent (20%) translations (including versions, imitations or any poetry inspired by the work of one or more other writers) will not be eligible. Percentages should be calculated on the total number of lines of poetry in a book.

A translation award could too easily reinforce the ghettoisation of translated poetry but, by including it along with untranslated work, I sincerely hope Duffy’s new prize helps to raise the status of translating in the British poetry scene.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. deemikay permalink
    13/07/2009 13:58

    Let's hope it does… and I hope it goes some way to getting rid of the sentence "But it's only a translation…"

  2. deemikay permalink
    13/07/2009 13:58

    PS I've enjoyed reading your blog over the past couple of months… came here via Rob McKenzie's.

  3. Andrew Philip permalink
    13/07/2009 15:46

    Oooh that's a sentence to get the blood near boiling point, isn't it?

    And welcome, Dave. Glad you like the blog.

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