I've always felt the biennial Popescu Prize to be one of the most exciting poetry prizes in the UK. The shortlist is invariably a selection of some very strange and important books being published in English (bilingually, or monolingually) across the world and always points to the importance of independent publishers in bringing international literatures to English readers.
The 2009 Shortlist is no less exciting than previous years (2007's winner, Kristiina Ehin's The Drums of Silence, trans. Ilmar Lehtpere, is one of my favourite poetry books of the past few years), and the Poetry Society, who manage the prize for The Ratiu Family Foundation, have managed to negotiate a bumper 20% off all eight titles.
Here's the shortlist:
Selected Poems by C.P Cavafy
Translated by Avi Sharon (Penguin Classics)
Courts of Air and Earth – a collection of middle and early Irish Poetry,
Translated by Trevor Joyce (Shearsman Books)
Rime by Dante Alighieri
Translated by JG Nichols and Anthony Mortimer (Oneworld Classics)
Against Heaven by Dulce Maria Loynaz
Translated by James O'Connor (Carcanet Press)
Madwomen by Gabriela Mistral
Translated by Randal Couch (Chicago University Press)
Unfinished Ode to Mud by Francis Ponge
Translated by Beverley Bie Brahic (CB Editions)
Poems of Oktay Rifat
Translated by Ruth Christie and Richard McKane (Anvil Press)
Birdsong on the Seabed
Translated by Sasha Dugdale (Bloodaxe Books)
The winner will be announced on Thursday 19th November. Bets are on.