Out of 539 books of poetry from 40 countries, Colonies has been chosen as one of four finalists for this year’s International Griffin Poetry Prize. I’m thrilled and honored, to say the least! The other finalists are Rachael Boast, Brenda Hillman, and Carl Phillips.
Here’s what the judges had to say:
“The sonnet, or ‘small song,’ arose in 13th-century Italy. It was successfully transplanted into English, through the supple voice of Thomas Wyatt, well before the birth of William Shakespeare. In Eastern Europe, however, the sonnet flowered much later. In Polish in particular, when it finally appeared, it met both popular acclaim and stiff-necked critical resistance. So the sonnet in Polish is, or can be, even now, a contentious and lively form. Tomasz Rózycki’s sonnet sequence Kolonie (Colonies), first published in Polish in 2006, demonstrates this clearly. In Mira Rosenthal’s translation of this work, English-speaking readers can themselves confront the sonnet as something supple, fresh and a little bit strange. Rózycki’s quirky and self-deprecating humour permeates the poems. So does his sense of the fundamental homelessness of 21st-century human beings. Nine of these 77 sonnets begin with some variation on the line ‘When I began to write, I didn’t know …’ and blossom into wry and hilarious reflections on the writing life. Others exude a heart-rending nostalgia for a world that is constantly being translated from meaning into money, and thus constantly destroyed.”
Read an excerpt from the book and more.
Watch a video about the nomination.