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Ramsey Nasr reading from Heavenly Life at the World Literature Weekend in June this year
Heavenly Life, published by Banipal Books, is shortlisted for the 2011 Popescu Prize for Poetry Translated from a European Language into English, run by the Poetry Society. For full details of the 6 short-listed titles, click here
To download the press release of the announcement, click here
Prize-winning poet, essayist, dramatist and actor Ramsey Nasr, born in 1974 in Rotterdam into a Palestinian-Dutch family, was voted Poet Laureate of the Netherlands in 2009. Heavenly Life is Ramsey's first poetry collection to be published in English by Banipal Books in 2010. The poems were selected by the poet from his collections and from works written as poet laureate for the Netherlands. His translator is the award-winning David Colmer, joint-winner of the 2010 IMPAC prize for his translation of The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker. David has dynamically recreated in English the patterns and sounds of 's inventive, bold and thoughtful poems. The collection is foreworded by Ruth Padel and introduced by Victor Schiferli.
Heavenly Life includes the poem which voted Nasr into his laureate post in 2009 – in the Netherlands the laureate is chosen by popular vote. Another is a three-part poem inspired by the life of Dmitri Shostakovich and based on his Sonata for Viola and Piano. The title poem 'Heavenly Life', meanwhile, was written to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Gustav Mahler’s birth and is based on his Fourth Symphony, the four sections of the poem echoing the structure, tone and length of its movements. It is named after 'Das himmlische Leben', the song that forms the symphony’s finale.
Ramsey Nasr was in conversation with Ruth Padel and read from Heavenly Life at the LRB's World Literature Weekend on 18th June, and last November performed at 2 events of the 2010 Poetry International at London's Southbank Centre.
"David Colmer's translations follow Nasr's almost prosaic lines and shifts in register, rarely missing a beat and catching his humour with low-key contemporary phrasing. These are very readable versions of poems that provide a window on what is going on in Dutch society at the moment."
Donald Gardner, reviewing Heavenly Life in Ambit 205
"This is a poet who takes the pulse of his age, presses charges against injustice and oppression, without forgetting the heartbeat of his predecessors."
Paul Demets in the Belgian daily newspaper De Morgen
To buy a copy of Heavenly Life, click here.
About the Popescu Prize
The Popescu Prize is awarded biennially by the Poetry Society for a volume of poetry translated from a European language into English.
Formerly the European Poetry Translation Prize (1983-1997) the Prize was relaunched in 2003, and renamed in memory of the young Romanian translator Corneliu M Popescu, who died in an earthquake in 1977, aged 19. Popescu translated the work of one of Romania's leading poets, Mihai Eminescu, into English. The Prize’s founding sponsor was Romanian journalist, author and democracy campaigner Ion Ratiu. It has been supported by The Ratiu Foundation since 2003. The prize of £1,500 is awarded to a translator.
The winner will be announced shortly before or after National Poetry Day on the 6 October. See Banipal website for all updates.
A Date for your Diary
On Saturday 5 November there will be a talk about the Popescu Prize at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. Jane Draycott, one of this year's judges, will celebrate the winner with a close reading of poems from the book. She will also talk about the significance of the award and how she and fellow judge Sasha Dugdale reached their decision.
For more information on the Popescu Prize, click here.
For more information on the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival event, click here.