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Professor Wins Prestigious Prize for Poetry Translation in Romania

Romanian poet Liliana Ursu; Romanian sculptor Mihai Topescu, who crafted Sorkin's trophy; Ioan Flora's widow, Elena Flora; Adam Sorkin
From left: Romanian poet Liliana Ursu; Romanian sculptor Mihai Topescu, who crafted Sorkin's trophy; Ioan Flora's widow, Elena Flora; Adam Sorkin
8/17/2011 —
Adam J. Sorkin, Distinguished Professor of English at Penn State Brandywine, won a prestigious prize for translation this summer. On May 27, in Târgu Jiu, Romania, at the first Ioan Flora Poetry Festival (officially, the “Ioan Flora Days of Poetry”), he was awarded the Ioan Flora Prize for Translation, named for a Serbian-born Romanian-language poet who was educated and lived in Bucharest.
 
Flora was known to fellow Romanian writers as a major poetic voice with an increasingly eminent literary reputation until his unexpected death from a heart attack in 2005 at age 54, just days after the publication of his last book.
 
Sorkin is a prize-winning translator and the most active contemporary translator of Romanian poetry into English, and has translated many of Flora’s poems. His version of Flora’s Medea and Her War Machines is being published by the University of New Orleans Press.
 
“I’m particularly pleased by this award because Ioan Flora was a poet I had known since 1989, in the days of Romanian communism,” Sorkin said. “The book, Medea and Her War Machines, is one I promised I’d find a publisher for, however long it took. Flora was a poet who always had important things to say. Set at the time of the NATO bombing of Serbia, specifically mentioned only once, the linked poems that make up Flora’s Medea are ever timely, bringing a reminder to readers about humankind’s vengeance and viciousness. Working on the book was one of those times when I could feel a kind of satisfaction, even smile to myself, at finding the right word and phrase for material that in contrast was fundamentally so dire.”
 
At the festival, Sorkin gave a talk about Flora’s poetry at a public event held at Târgu Jiu’s School of Folk Arts and participated in an al fresco public reading of his translations of Flora’s work in the city’s Central Park that was organized at the site of the sculptor Constantin Brancusi’s “Table of Silence.”
 
Sorkin was presented with a trophy crafted by local glass sculptor Mihai Topescu in his studio, as well as an award certificate.
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