Alert! Breyten Breytenbach has been awarded France’s Max Jacob Prize for his tribute in poetry to Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, Oorblyfsel/Voice Over, published by Human & Rousseau (an imprint of the NB group).
This news in from the publishers themselves: there’s scant additional information on the web.
The Max Jacob Award is given annually to two poets; Breytenbach shared the prize with Bernard Mazo for La cendre des Jours (published by Voix d’Encre). Last year’s winners were French poet and writer Jacques Jouet and Lebanese poet Issa Makhlouf.
The prize was founded in memory of the French author and painter Max Jacob, who died in imprisonment on 5 March 1944 after the Nazis sent him to their Drancy deportation camp. (See more on Max Jacob at Wikipedia.)
Here is the blurb for Oorblyfsel/Voice Over:
The collection includes poems in Afrikaans with the English version on the righthand page. Breyten calls these poems a ‘collage’, transformed ‘variations’ of Darwish’s work, with his own voice woven into the process.
“Mahmoud Darwish, the Palestinian poet (1941-2008), was a friend. … Immediately after his passing, I started writing the series as fragments of a continuing dialogue with him. … Over the following weeks I was to travel north – first to Catalonia and then on to Friesland … The poems reflect this trajectory. Translation – that is, to proceed from one language to the other – is also a journey. Perhaps too, an attempt to draw the veil from the known face which has now gone silent. … The images, and to an extent even the rhythms and the shaping, are his. … The journey continues and the conversation will carry on, in the attempt to look for Mahmoud Darwish among the words.” (From the author’s notes in the book.)
Hearty congratulations to Breytenbach!
- Oorblyfsel/Voice over by Breyten Breytenbach
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Photo courtesy Victor Dlamini