City academic wins top national poetry prize

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Poetry which was lost in translation has been given a new lease of life thanks to an award-winning lecturer from Sheffield University.

Dr Kaarina Hollo, lecturer in Irish at the university’s School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, has won The Times Stephen Spender Prize for Poetry in Translation.

Dr Hollo, who is an expert in the literary culture of early medieval Ireland, was presented with the prestigious award at a special ceremony in London.

She was honoured for her translation of Marbhghin 1943: Glaoch ar Liombo - Stillborn 1943: Calling Limbo - from Irish Gaelic into English.

The poem, written by Bantry-born author Derry O’Sullivan, is widely considered one of the best Irish-language poems of the 20th century and this is the first time a translation from Irish to English has won the critically acclaimed award.

“As you can imagine, it felt great to win the award,” said Dr Hollo. “Marbhghin 1943’s combination of deeply felt emotion and technical control is deeply powerful.

“I am really glad, from the responses I have been getting from people who have read the translation, that some of that is coming across in my English version as well.

“The poem resonates directly with real life experiences of some older Irish readers, but it also makes emotional sense to other readers.”

Last year Dr Hollo established a community-based Irish language class. Classes are held at The Grapes on Trippett Lane and now attract more than 25 language enthusiasts from the ages of 20 to 70.