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The Susan Sontag Prize for Translation 2010 Winner

Written by son of rambow on Sunday, August 01, 2010

Benjamin Mier-Cruz

For his translation proposal:
Modernist Missives of Elmer Diktonius
Letters and Poetry of Elmer Diktonius


Benjamin Mier-Cruz is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Scandinavian Languages and Literatures at UC Berkeley. He received his B.A. in German Language and Literature from Arizona State University and completed his M.A. at UC Berkeley. Benjamin studies 19th- and 20th-century Swedish literature with a particular interest in Finland-Swedish modernism and German expressionist poetry. Benjamin is fluent in German and Swedish and has studied in Berlin and Uppsala. He became interested in Elmer Diktonius after lengthy study of Diktonius’ literary colleague Edith Södergran.

Elmer Diktonius’ letters to prominent European authors and literary critics are rich and vibrant documentation of Finland’s evolving Swedish language literature. The letters originate during the Finnish Civil War in 1918, when Diktonius was just 22 years old, and conclude with his final correspondences in 1951. The exchanges reveal the private conflicts and travels of a vanguardist of literary expressionism. In the true spirit of modernism, Diktonius sought a new literature that reconciled antiquated art forms with the psyche of a changing Europe; one that represented and provoked revolt against political and economic establishments. The letters give insight into the literary climate that lay behind the radical yet finely tuned poetry that is also included in this translation.

Elmer Diktonius was a Finland-Swedish avant-garde poet who helped to arouse modernism in Scandinavian literature. Diktonius introduced unique representations of social, political, and cultural change with an innovative style that borrowed elements of Finnish in his Swedish verse.

Born in Helsinki in 1896, Diktonius, also a composer and fluent in Finnish, fervently sought to abandon the rigid structures of traditional rhythm in verse. He promoted literary expressionism in Finland by giving voice to man’s internal consciousness and social unrest as it came into modernity and confronted new technology. Diktonius’ poetry demonstrates his visionary aspirations for literature, the working-class, and the fate of his native Finland. His swaying political views can be seen throughout his writing, which ended in 1951. Diktonius died in 1961.


2010 Honorable Mention

Salka Gudmundsdottir

For her proposed translation of
Rafflesíublómiò (or The Rafflesia Flower) by Steinar Bragi

about 2010 Susan Sontag Prize for Translation

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