Collection of poems by Toon Tellegen wins prestigious European Prize

10 November 2011

The English translation of Toon Tellegen’s poem sequence Raafvogels has gained the Popescu Prize - a biennial prize awarded by the illustrious British Poetry Society for a European volume of poetry recently translated into the English language. The prize of £1,500 (just over €1,750) is awarded to the translator Judith Wilkinson.

Raptors, Judith Wilkinson's translation of Tellegen's Raafvogels (Querido, 2006) was published by Carcanet Press in March 2011. It's Wilkinson's second volume of Tellegen poems to appear in England, the previous one being About Love and About Nothing Else (Shoestring Press, 2008).

The jury, comprising the British poet-translators Jane Draycott and Sasha Dugdale, writes the following about Wilkinson's translation: "Judith Wilkinson's translation captures the weird spoken nature of Toon Tellegen's 'novel in verse' and it matches the energy and rhetorical span of the original. These haunting monologues expand our understanding of the power of the voice in poetry." Among other things, the poet is referred to as "an entirely distinctive voice in European poetry". The prize-giving ceremony took place on Saturday, November 5, during the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in England.

There was yet another translated collection of a Dutch poet alongside Raptors among the six nominees: Ramsey Nasr's Heavenly Life (Banipal Books, 2010), translated by David Colmer. Only once before has a translated collection of Dutch poems been nominated for the prize - in 2007, when Willem Groenewegen's translation of Rutger Kopland's poetry in What Water Left Behind (Waxwing Press, 2005) achieved that honour.

As well as his well-known animal stories, Toon Tellegen has also written plays, novels and more than twenty collections of poetry, of which Schrijver en lezer (Writer and Reader, Querido, 2011) is the most recent. Judith Wilkinson is a British poet and translator of Dutch poetry who resides in the Netherlands. Other poets she has translated include Miriam Van Hee and Gerrit Achterberg.

The translation of Raptors was helped to fruition by (financial) support from the Dutch Foundation for Literature. In our database of translations you can find an overview of all foreign translations of the work of Toon Tellegen.

For further information about the Popescu Prize 2011, visit the Poetry Society's website.

More information

For more information you can contact the Dutch Foundation for literature, Thomas Möhlmann (, tel. +31 20 520 73 54 or Hanneke Marttin (, tel. +31 20 520 73 11.

Thomas Möhlmann


Thomas Möhlmann

[email protected]