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Translation Tuesday: The Cities, a poem by Marie Silkeberg


This rapid-fire Swedish poetry, inspired by Malevich’s black squares, was the poetry winner Asymptote’s translation contest – read an extract

By Marie Silkeberg and Kelsi Vanada for Translation Tuesdaysby Asymptote, part of the Guardian Books Network

For the last two weeks, we presented the nonfiction and fiction winners of our annual Close Approximations translation contest, picked by Margaret Jull Costa and Ottilie Mulzet respectively. This week, we present the poetry winners: Swedish poet Marie Silkeberg and her co-translator Kelsi Vanada for their rendition of Silkeberg’s rapid-fire prose poetry, presented in squares, after the black squares of Malevich. Judge Michael Hofmann, one of the six most esteemed literary translators working today according to The Wall Street Journal, whittled his selection down to five entries. “Thereafter, things might have gone differently, all my choices were so incomparably dissimilar. In the end, I asked myself what poems would I most like to see published, to read a book of, to live with and deepen my understanding of, and that gave me my winner.”

– The editors at Asymptote

a test of the heart. the membranes. could come in the morning. sleep. a measure of freedom.

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