The Gabo Prize for Literature in Translation & Multilingual Texts

Issue 14: Winter/Spring 2019

Excerpts from Poems from My Diary

by Abraham Sutzkever, translated by Maia Evrona

Special Guest Judge, Piotr Florczyk

I was immediately struck by the visionary undertow of these poems, their author wearing a mask of “a blind seer” and running “from abyss to abyss rescuing the smiles of the sacrificed.” While translators are rarely afforded heavenly powers, technically speaking, their work is no less salutary. “A root pulses,” the poet writes, “still believing, / after all, the sun through the cobweb here has not gone away,” and so do we, the readers, thanks to the translator Maia Evrona’s deft hand, as we discover with each new line a home for own hopes and fears. These timeless poems—“the ribs of the soul”—remind us of the need to praise our world in chorus with those who came before and those who are about to take our place.

Piotr Florczyk is a poet, essayist, and translator of Polish poetry. His most recent books are East & West, a volume of poems from Lost Horse Press, and two volumes of translations published by Tavern Books, My People & Other Poems by Wojciech Bonowicz and Building the Barricade by Anna Świrszczyńska, which won the 2017 Found in Translation Award and the 2017 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award. Florczyk, a doctoral candidate at the University of Southern California, lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. For more info, please visit piotrflorczyk.com.