Brockway Prize to Ard Posthuma

10 June 2015

The Brockway Prize, a biennial prize for poetry translations from the Dutch, has been awarded to Ard Posthuma. The prize was established by the Dutch Foundation for Literature and is worth 5,000 euro. It will be presented on 12 June during the Poetry International Festival in Rotterdam.

Literary translator Ard Posthuma (b. 1942) attended universities in Lausanne, Munich and Basel before beginning a career as editor and lecturer. Since 1989 he has translated a considerable amount of Dutch, Frisian and Flemish poetry into German, with publications including anthologies of the work of Martinus Nijhoff, Cees Nooteboom, Gerrit Kouwenaar, Leonard Nolens and Tsjêbbe Hettinga. His translations ‘in the other direction’, of work by authors including Ingo Schulz and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Faust), have also been highly praised.

The jury spoke particularly highly of Posthuma’s translation of the collections Licht overal (Licht überall) and Zo kon het zijn (So könnte es sein) by Cees Nooteboom.

‘His translations demonstrate that he has an excellent grounding in both the Dutch and the German poetic tradition,’ the jury writes, and ‘although this may at first seem a contradiction, he continually takes the freedom to remain as close as possible to the spirit of the original poetry, knowing exactly how far he can go. In this sense Posthuma shows himself to be a great craftsman and an outstanding mediator between the two languages.’

The 2015 Brockway Prize jury was made up of literary translator Gregor Seferens and publisher Christoph Buchwald, supported by Peter Bergsma, translator and director of the Translators’ House Amsterdam (part of the Dutch Foundation for Literature).

Each edition of the Brockway Prize focuses on a different target language. The prize has previously been awarded to Francis R. Jones (2005; English), Gregor Seferens (2007; German), Jan H. Mysjkin and Pierre Gallissaires (2009; French), Francisco Carrasquer Launed (2011; Spanish) and Judith Wilkinson (2013; English).

Rechts: Ard Posthuma; foto: Victor Schiferli.

Presentation of the Brockway Prize 2015

The Brockway Prize will be presented on Friday 12 June at 17.30 by Tiziano Perez, director of the Dutch Foundation for Literature, during the 46th Poetry International Festival in the Rotterdam Stadsschouwburg.

James Brockway

Poet and translator James Brockway died on 15 December 2000. His translations gave an English-language readership access to the poetry of Rutger Kopland, Hans Lodeizen, M. Vasalis, Gerrit Achterberg and many other poets writing in Dutch. In 1966 he received the Martinus Nijhoff Prize for his services as a translator and in 1997 he was knighted, on the same grounds. In his will Brockway left half his estate to the Dutch Foundation for Literature. That legacy is used by the Foundation for the stimulation of translations of poetry from the Dutch.

Other Brockway Activities

As well as the Brockway Prize, a multilingual translation workshop for international poetry translators is organized every two years. This year a special edition of the workshop will be held under the name ‘VERSschmuggel’. Six translators in Berlin will work together with six German poets (including Jan Wagner, Daniela Seel and Nora Gomringer) and six Dutch poets (including Anneke Brassinga, Els Moors and K. Michel). VERSschmuggel is organized in collaboration with LiteraturWERKstatt Berlin and the Flemish Literature Fund, with the support of the Dutch Embassy and the Flemish Representation in Berlin. The results will be presented during the Poesiefestival Berlin on Tuesday 23 June and collected in book form in 2016.

An overview of translations by Ard Posthuma can be found in the translations database on the website of the Dutch Foundation for Literature.

An overview of English translations of Nootebooms poetry may also be found in the translations database.

Thomas Möhlmann


Thomas Möhlmann

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