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Winner, John Dryden Translation Prize

By Peter McCambridge

On 07, Mar 2014 | In | By Peter McCambridge

Winner, John Dryden Translation Prize

In 2012, I was awarded the John Dryden Translation Prize.

The annual literary translation prize is awarded by the British Comparative Literature Association to what it considers to be that year’s best unpublished translation of poetry, prose, or drama from any period into English.

My winning entry was a translation from the first chapter of Bestiaire, Eric Dupont’s touching and often hilarious account of the aftermath of the Quiet Revolution, a part of history that remains relatively uncharted in Québec literature and all but unheard-of in English translation.

The translation was published in carte blanche magazine.

July 1976. Montréal. The 21st Olympic Games. A tiny Romanian gymnast stands on a mat and waves to the crowd. For thirty seconds, she swings back and forth between two wooden bars, defying the laws of gravity. Her landing is perfect. She even manages a smile, and gambols away from the blue mat as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened. With the whole world looking on, she gets a perfect score. Ten. Nadia Comaneci, the child who had been getting by on an egg a day, had just revealed to Québec’s metropolis the possibilities of weightlessness. Of this impressive demonstration of grace, courage, and agility, history would remember her smile most of all—the one thing she hadn’t worked on and that came to her naturally. If you walk by the Olympic Stadium in Montréal today, you’ll see a monument in honour of the medal winners at the Montréal Olympics. You can’t miss it. It’s right by the entrance to the Biodome. Look for Nadia’s name among all the others. Look up and you’ll see the Romanian flag. I remember it like it was yesterday.

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