photograph Francis Jones wins the 2013 John Dryden Translation Competition

First prize for the translation of ‘Early poems’ by the Serbian poet Ivan V. Lalić

Francis Jones has won First Prize in the 2013 John Dryden Translation Competition. Congratulations! 

NU Connections article celebrating the award. 

Dr Francis Redvers Jones is Reader in Translation Studies and Head of the Translating and Interpreting Section at the School of Modern Languages, Newcastle University. He is also a free-time poetry translator, mainly from Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian and Dutch into English. The prizewinning translations are 11 ‘Early Poems’ by Ivan V. Lalić (1931-1996), part of an English ‘Collected Works’ that Francis Jones is working on. Francis writes: 

“Though one of Serbia’s most eminent 20th-century poets, Lalić saw himself as a Mediterranean poet in the company of Italy’s Eugenio Montale and Greece’s Giorgios Seferis. His poetry is vivid, sensual and elemental – sea and wind, sun and stars. He also writes some of the finest love poetry I know – as in ‘Young love’, one of the poems I submitted for the Competition:

She’ll fall asleep, a shoal of goldfish between
Her lashes now combing the dark. She’ll fall asleep,
A touch of tiredness deep in her rounded joints:
Sleep, her tiny earwig, waits on her pillow. 

She’ll fall asleep to the dark furniture cracking,
Beneath the shadows of leaves flitting across
The pane, her hands left slightly at a loss
By all she has touched, open and still half-awake.

She’ll spin a spider’s-web of breath about her;
And a cat will cross the room more quietly than
Itself. A sharp moon will run its inquisitive
Birchtwig fingers across her already-warm bed.

She’ll fall asleep. The tick of the clock, like a mouse,
Is nibbling the silence. She’ll dream she’s up and running
On tiptoe down the wind-blue street, chasing
The day which long since slipped away from the house.” 

This is the latest of 14 prizes awarded to Francis Jones’s poetry translations. He was the inaugural winner of the new James Brockway Prize for the Translation of Dutch Poetry in 2005 which was followed by a quick succession of translation successes - look up the press coverage for his translation of a medieval Dutch poem into Geordie and the funny mock heroic poem about the perils of wet weather! He has translated or co-translated 18 books of poetry from Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian, Dutch, Hungarian and Russian – including four books of Lalić’s poetry, with Anvil Press.

Listen to be Francis Jones reading ‘Cathedrals’ by Ivan V. Lalić 

Photo caption: Ivan V. Lalić and Francis Jones at a 1983 poetry reading (thanks to John Stathatos and Anvil Press). 

published on: 21st June 2013