Wednesday, 6 May 2015

German Poets and Prizes

The dam has broken and prizes are going to poets! Following Jan Wagner's surprising receipt of the Prize of the Leipzig Book Fair after everyone thought even nominating a poet was an act of iconoclastic tokenism, they've gone and done it again. This time it's the Kleist Prize for Monika Rinck. Rinck has published mainly poetry and essays but also some rather odd other things, and you can find quite a lot of her poems in Nicolas Grindell's English translations at no man's land if you click on the first link above.

The Kleist Prize is an interesting one because it's awarded by a different individual every year, to all kinds of writers for their entire work. I kind of like the idea because it means there are no compromises. This year it was the president of the German Academy of Language and Literature, Heinrich Detering, who chose to bestow a big fat €20,000 on Rinck. Hooray!

And then – perhaps less surprisingly – there's another German poet on the poetry shortlist for the Best Translated Book Award: Farhad Showghi for End of the City Map, tr. Rosmarie Waldrop. The winners are announced on 27 May.

Incidentally, Jan Wagner's Regentonnenvariationen made it to number 5 on the Spiegel bestseller list after he won the Leipzig prize and spent several weeks in the charts. That hasn't happened to a poet before; not even Tranströmer after he won the Nobel.

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