Popescu Shortlisted Books

Memorial, Alice Oswald’s excavation of Homer’s Iliad, wins the Poetry Society’s Corneliu M Popescu Prize 2013 for poetry in translation

Oswald’s excavation of the Iliad is a radical retelling that at once translates and transforms this ancient text into a deeply moving exploration of the horrors of warfare in any age.

Organised by the Poetry Society, the Corneliu M Popescu Prize is given biennially to a book of poetry translated into English from another European language. This year’s winner was chosen from a selection of 79 submitted books, representing 26 languages. Judges Karen Leeder and David Wheatley said “Oswald has turned Homer into a contemporary war poet, taking an audacious concept – the trimming down of the Iliad to its death scenes – and imbuing the results with compelling formal necessity. Memorial answers to its Greek original yet stands as an autonomous and deeply moving work of art.”

For more information about the winning book please visit the Media Room or click here

Alice Oswald reads an extract from her winning book, Memorial 

Click here to view on Vimeo

To listen to recordings from the other books on the shortlist, click here.

Corneliu M Popescu 2013 Shortlist

In the Light Of by Ciaran Carson, translations of poems by Arthur Rimbaud

Ciaran Carson, for In the Light Of: after Illuminations, Arthur Rimbaud, pub The Gallery Press (from French)

What the judges say: Among the different meanings of Rimbaud’s title, Illuminations, is a book of coloured plates. An illuminated manuscript for the modernist age, the Illuminations shine in Ciaran Carson’s translation.

Listen to Ciaran Carson read from the book

Henry Israeli (plus additional translators), for Haywire: New & Selected Poems: Luljeta Lleshanaku, pub Bloodaxe (from Albanian)

What the judges say: ‘I could have been born in another place /within another idiom’, writes Luljeta Lleshanaku, in lines that acquire a prophetic edge in these fine translations, like some latter-day Double Vie de Véronique, holding Eastern and Western Europe in delicate balance.

Listen to Luljeta Lleshanaku read from the book

Ilmar Lehtpere, for 1001 Winters: Kristiina Ehin, pub Bitter Oleander Press (from Estonian)

What the judges say: Kristiina Ehin’s poem ‘How to explain my language to you’ ends with a moment of epiphany ‘in a language neither yours nor mine’, and these fine translations explore the meeting points in which the strange and the familiar find common ground.

Listen to Kristiina Ehin read from the book

Peter Manson, for The Poems in Verse: Stéphane Mallarmé, pub Miami University Press (from French)

What the judges say: Mallarmé is the strong enchanter of French symbolism, and in these versions Peter Manson has carried an entire body of work across into English with authority, conviction and compulsive readability.

Listen to Peter Manson read from the book

Seizing: Places by Helene Dorion, translated by Patrick McGuinness

Patrick McGuinness, for Seizing: Places: Hélène Dorion, pub Arc Publications (from French)

What the judges say: Hélène Dorion enters English with Racinian purity and economy, finding her material among the sublime abstractions and voids from which Anglophone poets instinctively shy away.

Alice Oswald, for Memorial: An excavation of the Iliad, Homer, pub Faber (from Greek)

What the judges say: Alice Oswald has experimented with reading her poems twice, live, and gives us each of Homer’s rich similes on the double in Memorial, but hers is a poetry to which normal concepts of diminishing returns do not apply: this is a poetry whose rewards grow not just with each rereading, but before our eyes, first time round, too.

Listen to Alice Oswald read from the book

Memorial by Alice Oswald. 'An excavation of the Iliad by Homer'
The Disappearance of Snow by Manuel Rivas, translated by Lorna Shaughnessy

Lorna Shaughnessy, for The Disappearance of Snow: Manuel Rivas, pub Shearsman (from Galician)

What the judges say: ‘What is your message?’ asks Manuel Rivas in ‘Missed Call’, but these translations show that, as well as being what gets lost, poetry in translation can be about what gets through, the connections we make, and the voices we hear loud and clear.

Listen to Lorna Shaughnessy read from the book

For more information about the shortlist please click here


The Prize

"Marooned on our island of language, the Popescu is one of the few regular supply ships.” 
– Sasha Dugdale, Editor, Modern Poetry in Translation, and a former Popescu Prize judge

The Popescu Prize has been 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. The prize, awarded to a translator, was supported by The Ratiu Foundation from 2003 to 2011. 

The Schedule

The Popescu Prize is a biennial competition, running once every two years. The opening date for the 2013 Popescu Prize was 1 July. The closing date for submissions was 31 July. The winner was announced on 29 November 2013. For full details email the Poetry Society marketing department. The next competition will be in 2015.

2013 Judges

Karen Leeder is Professor of Modern German Literature and Fellow and Tutor in German at New College, Oxford. She has translated work by a number of contemporary German poets including Raoul Schrott, Durs Grünbein, Uljana Wolf, Ulrike Almut Sandig and Volker Braun. Her translation of Evelyn Schlag’s Selected Poems (Carcanet, 2004) won the Schlegel-Tieck Prize in 2005 and her translation of Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Fatal Numbers: Why Count on Chance? (Upper West Side Philosophers’ Press, 2011), was shortlisted for the US National Book Critics’ Circle Award. In 2014 her translations of Michael Krüger, The Eleventh Commandment: Selected Poems, will appear with Sheep Meadow Press.


David Wheatley is a poet and critic with particular research interests in the field of twentieth-century and contemporary poetry, Irish literature and Samuel Beckett. He has published four collections of poetry with Gallery Press: Thirst (1997; Rooney Prize for Irish Literature), Misery Hill (2000), Mocker (2006), and A Nest on the Waves (2010). He has also edited the Poems of James Clarence Mangan for Gallery Press (2003) and Samuel Beckett’s Selected Poems 1930-1989 for Faber (2009). His work features in various anthologies, including After Ovid: New Metamorphoses (Faber/FSG, 1994), The New Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2004), Identity Parade: New British & Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010), An Anthology of Modern Irish Poetry (Harvard UP, 2010), and The Penguin Book of Irish Poetry (2010). He was a founding editor of the poetry journal Metre, and has written on poetry for a variety of other journals including London Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian, New Statesman, Essays in Criticism, Times Higher Education Supplement, The Irish Times and Poetry Review.


In 2011 Judith Wilkinson won the prize with her translation of Toon Tellegen's Raptors.

Other winners...

2009 Madwomen by Gabriela Mistral (University of Chicago Press) trans. Randall Couch
2007 The Drums of Silence by Kristiina Ehin (Oleander Press) trans Ilmar Lehtpere
2005 The Bridge by Marin Sorescu (Bloodaxe) trans Adam J Sorkin & Lidia Vianu
2003 Lighter than Air by Hans Magnus Enzensberger (Bloodaxe) trans David Constantine

The first winner of the Prize, in 1983, was Tony Harrison for The Oresteia.

Email: Sophie Baker
Telephone: 020 7420 9895


29 November 2013
Alice Oswald has been announced as the winner of the 2013 Popescu Prize for Memorial, her excavataion of Homer's Iliad, published by Faber

October 2013
2013 Popescu Prize shortlist announced.

June 2013

2013 Popescu Prize opens for entries.

November 2011
Judith Wilkinson has been announced winner of this year's Popescu Prize for her translation of Toon Tellegen's Raptors.

September 2011
The shortlist has now been announced.

June 2011
The submissions period is now closed. Thank you to all those publishers and writers who submitted work. Read the list of titles submitted for the 2011 competition.

May 2011

Members of the Poetry Society are invited to join our Popescu vitual book club.

February 2011
Submissions to the Popescu Prize 2011 are now being accepted.