Adam J. Sorkin

Distinguished Professor Emeritus, English

Bottom Fields



Adam J. Sorkin received his A.B. with Distinction in All Subjects from Cornell University, where he also received an M.A., both in English; his Ph.D. in English and American Literature was granted by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He began as an American literature specialist and still teaches American literature and culture. However, over the last three decades, after a sojourn as Fulbright lecturer in Bucharest, his first of two Fulbright awards, he has focused on the translation of contemporary Romanian poetry.

Since early 1990s, Professor Sorkin has published more than fifty books of translation (co-translated with native Romanian speakers, often with the authors themselves), which have been aided by Rockefeller Foundation, Witter Bynner Foundation, Romanian Cultural Institute, NEA and three IREX fellowships, as well as by many Penn State University grants. In 2012, he received the Penn State Brandywine Faculty Research Program Award for his career achievement. His work has garnered publication support from the Academy of American Poets, Arts Council of England, New York State Arts Council and Soros Foundation. Two of his books have been shortlisted for the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize, and eight of his translations were nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Additionally, he has won both the Kenneth Rexroth Memorial Translation Prize and the Prize for European Poetry Translation of The Poetry Society, London, a Silver Award (second prize) for the ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year in poetry, the Ioan Flora and Poesis Poetry Festival translation prizes, along with additional awards in Romania and Moldova. Sorkin also won NEH and School of Criticism and Theory support for his academic writing. His essays have been published in American Literature, Modern Fiction Studies, and Contemporary Literature, as well as, accompanying his translations, in Metamorphoses, Two Lines, The Literary Review, American Book Review, Talisman, The Cincinnati Review and Modern Poetry in Translation, among other notable publications.

Sorkin’s translations have appeared in more than 400 literary magazines in North America and Europe, including The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Poetry, Kenyon Review, Poetry Daily, Poetry London, Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, Poetry Ireland, Agni, Field, World Literature Today, Lana Turner, POEM, The Malahat Review, New England Review, Prairie Schooner, TriQuarterly, Poetry Australia and The Women’s Review of Books. Sorkin is listed in Who’s Who in America. He has been at Penn State Brandywine since 1978 and became a Distinguished Professor in 2000. The Times Literary Supplement judged Sorkin “the most sensitive current translator of Romanian poetry into English”; 3:AM Magazine wrote that “Adam J. Sorkin…is widely regarded as the most important American translator of Romanian letters”; Ezra termed him “one of the deans of translation—certainly the dean of translation from Romanian in the United States”; and The Exquisite Corpse spoke of Sorkin as a “master” who in his recent work “show[s] off his blazing chops as a translator.”


Selected Books

The Sky Behind the Forest: Selected Poems (translated with the poet and Tess Gallagher). 60 poems by Liliana Ursu. Introduction by Brenda Hillman. Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 1997. 96 pp.

Sea-Level Zero. 80 selected and new poems by Daniela Crăsnaru (tr. with the poet, four others, and without co-translator). Introduction by A.J.S. Rochester: BOA Editions, Ltd., 1999. 140 pp.

The Triumph of the Water Witch. 63 poems by Ioana Ieronim (tr. with the poet). Translator’s Foreword by A.J.S. Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 2000. 96 pp.

The Bridge. Marin Sorescu’s last book of poetry written on his deathbed, 75 poems (tr. with Lidia Vianu). Tarset, Northumberland: Bloodaxe Books, 2004. 96 pp. Awarded the 2005 Prize for European Poetry Translation of The Poetry Society, London.

The Past Perfect of Flight. 188 selected poems by Marin Sorescu (tr. with Lidia Vianu, two others, and without co-translator). “My Sorescu: Translator’s Foreword” by A.J.S. Bucharest: Romanian Cultural Institute, 2004. 310 pp.

Lunacies. 65 poems by Ruxandra Cesereanu (tr. with the poet and with Claudia Litvinchievici). New York: Spuyten Duyvil/Meeting Eyes Bindery, 2004. 52 pp.

The Grand Prize and Other Stories. 9 short stories by Daniela Crăsnaru (tr. with the author). Writings from an Unbound Europe. Evanston: Northwestern UP, 2004. 102 pp.

Chaosmos. 24 poems by Magda Cârneci (tr. with the poet). Introduction, “Inhaling the World’s Body,” by Richard Jackson. Foreword by A.J.S. Terra Incognita Series No. 9. Buffalo: White Pine Press, 2006. 96 pp.

Born in Utopia: An Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Romanian Poetry. Edited by Carmen Firan and Paul Doru Mugur with Edward Foster. Principal translator, with various co-translators, of 137 poems by 35 poets [out of 66 poets tr.’d by 70 translators]. Introduction by Andrei Codrescu. Jersey City: Talisman House, 2006. 355 pp.

The March to the Stars. 35 poems by Mihai Ursachi (tr. mainly with the poet, a few with five others and without co-translator). Translator’s Introduction: “On Mihai Ursachi and His Poetry,” by A.J.S. Bucharest: Vinea Press, 2006. 78 pp.

Paper Children. 45 poems by Mariana Marin (tr. with Irma Giannetti, Angela Jianu, Mia Nazarie, Liana Vrăjitoru, and without co-translator). Preface by Nina Cassian. Introduction by A.J.S. East European Poets Series no. 14. Brooklyn: Ugly Duckling Presse, 2006. 144 pp.

The Catalan Within. 11 poems by Radu Andriescu (tr. with the poet). Fayetteville, NC: Longleaf Press, 2007. 34 pp.

Crusader-Woman. 14 poems by Ruxandra Cesereanu (tr. with Madalina Mudure, Claudia Litvinchievici and Ruxandra Cesereanu). Foreword by Andrei Codrescu; Afterword by Călin-Andrei Mihăilescu. Boston: Black Widow Press, 2008. 124 pp.

The Factory of the Past. 23 poems by Mariana Marin (tr. with Daniela Hurezanu). Claremont: Toad Press, 2008. 35 pp. Winner of Toad Press open competition.

Memory Glyphs: Three Prose Poets from Romania. 54 prose poems by Radu Andriescu, Iustin Panța, and Cristian Popescu (tr. with Andriescu, Mircea Ivănescu, Bogdan Ștefănescu). Preface by A.J.S. Prague [Czech Republic]: Twisted Spoon Press, 2009. 166 pages.

lines poems poetry. 63 poems by Mircea Ivănescu (tr. with Lidia Vianu). Introduction, “The ‘Inward Conversation’ of Mircea Ivănescu,” by A.J.S. Plymouth [U.K.]: University of Plymouth Press, 2009. 112 pp. Shortlisted for the 2011 Prize for European Poetry Translation of The Poetry Society, London.

Rock and Dew: Selected Poems. 66 poems by Carmen Firan (tr. with the poet). Main translator of book (48 poems); other translations by Andrei Codrescu, Isaiah Sheffer, Julian Semilian. Riverdale-on-Hudson: The Sheep Meadow Press, 2010. 74 pp.

No Way Out of Hadesburg and Other Poems. 70 poems by Ioan Es. Pop (tr. with Lidia Vianu). Introduction, “This Is Hadesburg and Anywhere You Run to Will Be Hadesburg,” by A.J.S. Plymouth [U.K.]: University of Plymouth Press, 2010. 128 pages.

Alte poeme din Nord/Other Poems from the North. 27 poems by George Vulturescu (tr. with Olimpia Iacob). Introduction, “‘The Letter Does Not Need to Know Your Name’: George Vulturescu and His Poetry” by A.J.S. Dual-language. Iași: Editura Fundației Culturale Poezia, 2011. Romanian, pp. 1-63; English, pp. 65-128.

My Dog – the Soul. 12 poems by Floarea Țuțuianu (tr. with Irma Giannetti and without co-tr.). Dual-language. Governors Bay, New Zealand: Cold Hub Press, 2011. 28 pp.

Medea and Her War Machines. 37 poems by Ioan Flora (tr. with Alina Cârâc). Translator’s Foreword by A.J.S. New Orleans: University of New Orleans Press, 2011. 102 pp. Third (final) round selection, 2012 National Translation Awards.

A Path to the Sea. 69 poems by Liliana Ursu (tr. with the poet and Tess Gallagher). New York: Pleasure Boat Studio, 2011. 130 pp.

The Book of Winter and Other Poems. 36 poems by Ion Mureșan (tr. with Lidia Vianu). Introduction, “I Sing the Dark Force in my Mind,” by A.J.S. Plymouth [U.K.]: University of Plymouth Press, 2011. 104 pp.

The Vanishing Point That Whistles: An Anthology of Contemporary Romanian Poetry. Edited by Paul Doru Mugur, Adam J. Sorkin and Claudia Serea. 361 poems by 40 poets, 343 in A.J.S. co-translations (tr. with Claudia Serea and 25 others). Greenfield: Talisman House, 2011. 366 pp.

Mouths Dry with Hatred. 44 poems by Dan Sociu (tr. with the poet and Mihaela Niță). Fayetteville, NC: Longleaf Press, 2012. 36 pp.

The Flying Head. 28 poems by Ioan Flora (tr. with Elena Bortă). Claremont: Toad Press, 2012. 36 pp. Winner of Toad Press open competition.

A Sharp Double-Edged Luxury Object. 20 poems by Rodica Draghincescu (tr. with Antuza Genescu). West Somerville, MA: Červená Barva Press, 2014. 45 pp.

Gold and Ivy/Aur și iederă. 54 poems by George Vulturescu (tr. with Olimpia Iacob). Dual-language. Cluj-Napoca: Editura Eikon, 2014. English, 129 pp./Romanian, 118 pp.

The Starry Womb. 64 poems by Mihail Gălățanu (tr. with Petru Iamandi and the poet). New Orleans: Diálogos Books, 2014.

The Book of Anger. 45 poems by Marta Petreu (tr. with Christina Zarifopol-Illias and Liviu Bleoca). New Orleans: Diálogos Books, 2014.

Inquiries on Romanian poetry and contemporary Romanian culture are welcomed.