On the Death of Siegfried Lenz ? ?You have to justify your life?

Siegfried Lenz, one of the great writers of German post-war literature is dead. He died on 7 October 2014, surrounded by his family. He was 88 years old.... more more

GoetheInstitute

28/09/2005

And the winner is...

Brian Murdoch's "Fritz's bitch" wins the Ernst Jandl poetry translation contest

On August 1, to honour what would have been Austrian poet Ernst Jandl's 80th birthday, signandsight.com launched a poetry translation competition. The assignment was to translate Jandl's lofty masterpiece "Otto's Mops" into English.

Ottos Mops


Ottos Mops trotzt
Otto: fort Mops fort
Ottos Mops hopst fort
Otto: soso

Otto holt Koks
Otto holt Obst
Otto horcht
Otto: Mops Mops
Otto hofft

Ottos Mops klopft
Otto: komm Mops komm
Ottos Mops kommt
Ottos Mops kotzt
Otto: ogottogott

Submissions poured in from all corners of the world and indeed in all languages (we received some veritable gems in Afrikaans and Swahili). We were overwhelmed by the response and the creativity of our readers.

A jury made up of award-winning poet Barbara Köhler, Perlentaucher founder Thierry Chervel and the editorial team of signandsight.com, convened. The poems were judged according to their respect of the single-vowel principal, basic narrative thrust and general Mopsian spirit.

We are proud to announce the winner: "Fritz's bitch" by Brian Murdoch.

The runners up are (in no specific order) Katy Derbyshire for "Prue's Poodle", Walter Barkan for "Mao's Chow" and Alexander Sager for "Doug's Pug".

Barbara Köhler who headed the jury made the following comment on the jury's choice: "There were four translations which tried to achieve a balance between form and content, and all in a highly individual manner. All four dare to express their own readings parallel to the act of translation. Brian Murdoch's translation does all of this and remains truest to the original. What I liked particularly was that the translations play very specifically with the nuances of sounds and meaning in the English language."

fritz's bitch

fritz's bitch itches
fritz: quit bitch quit
fritz's bitch quits it
fritz: nitwit

fritz picks chips
fritz picks dips
fritz listens
fritz: bitch bitch
fritz wishes

fritz's bitch twitches
fritz: sit bitch sit
fritz's bitch sits
fritz's bitch is sick
fritz: shitshitshit

Brian Murdoch

Brian Murdoch teaches Modern Languages at the University of Stirling, Scotland.


prue's poodle

prue's poodle refuses
prue rebukes poodle
prue's poodle scoots
prue: cute

prue chooses noodles
prue chooses fruit
prue looks
prue: poodle poodle
prue broods

prue's poodle chews
prue: phooey poodle phooey
prue's poodle gooey
prue's poodle pukes
prue: oh shoot

Katy Derbyshire
Katy Derbyshire is a freelance translator from London, now living in Berlin.


Mao's chow

Mao's chow growls
Mao: bow wow chow
Mao's chow meow
Mao: wow

Mao allow cow
Mao allow sow
Mao's chow now chow
Mao: chow chow
Mao vow

Mao's chow loud
Mao cow chow
Mao chow row
Mao's chow jowl Mao
Mao: ow ow

Walter Barkan
Walter Barkan is a retired developer of air traffic control systems living in Corvallis, Oregon.



Doug's pug

doug’s pug rubs
doug: pug yuh bug
doug’s pug scuds
Doug shrugs

doug drums up lunch
doug munches
doug’s pug lusts
doug: pug pug
doug’s pug fusses

doug’s pug tugs rug
doug: come pug come
doug’s pug comes
doug’s pug chucks
doug: ofuckofuck

Alexander Sager
Alexander Sager is an assistant professor of German at the University of Georgia, USA, and proud owner of Penny the Finger Lakes
Stickleback.


Click here to read all other English translations and here for the international translations. And here you can hear Ernst Jandl reading his poem.

*


We would like to thank
Luchterhand Literaturverlag for giving us the rights to publish "Ottos Mops".

Get the signandsight newsletter for regular updates on feature articles.
signandsight.com - let's talk european.

 
More articles

No one is indestructible

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

TeaserPicA precision engineer of the emotions, Peter Nadas traces the European upheavals of the past century in his colossal and epic novel "Parallel Stories", which was published in English in December. The core and epicentre of the novel is the body, which bears the marks of history and trauma. In his seemingly chaotic intertwining of lives and stories, Nadas penetrates the depths of the human animal with unique insight. A review by Joachim Sartorius
read more

Road tripping across the ideological divide

Wednesday 1 February, 2012

TeaserPicThe USA and the USSR should not simply be thought of as arch enemies of the Cold War. Beyond ideology, the two nations were deeply interested in one another. Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov were thrilled by the American Way of Life in 1935/6, John Steinbeck and Robert Capa praised the sheer vitality of the Russian people in 1947. Historian Karl Schlögel reviews a perfect pair of travel journals. Photo by Ilf and Petrov.
read more

Language without a childhood

Monday 23 January 2012

TeaserPicTurkish-born author, actor and director Emine Sevgi Özdamar was recently awarded the Alice Salomon Prize for Poetics. Coming to West Berlin in 1965, Özdamar first learned German at the age of 19. After stage school she went on to become the directorial assistant to Benno Besson and Matthias Langhoff at the Volksbühne in East Berlin while still living in West Berlin. Harald Jähner warmly lauds the author's uniquely visual sense of her acquired language and her ability to overcome the seemingly insurmountable dividing line through the city.
read more

Friendship in the time of terror

Monday 9 January 2012

Nadezhda Mandelstam's personal memories of the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, her intimate friend, offer a unique and moving testimony to friendship and resistance over decades of persecution. Published only after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, the text is still unavailable in English but has recently been translated into German. A unique historical document, celebrating an intellectual icon in an age of horror. Portrait of Akhmatova by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin.
read more

Just one drop of forgetfulness

Thursday 8 December, 2011

TeaserPicThis year is the 200th anniversary of the death of German writer Heinrich von Kleist. The author Gertrud Leutenegger has a very Kleistian afternoon on Elba, when she encounters the Marquise von O in the waiting room of a very strange eye doctor.
read more

German Book Prize 2011 - the short list

Tuesday 4 October, 2011

TeaserPicEugen Ruge has won the German Book Prize with his novel "In Zeiten des abnehmenden Lichts" (In times of fading light), an autobiographical story of an East German family. The award is presented to the best German-language novel just before the start of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Here we present this year's six shortlisted authors and exclusive English translations of excerpts from their novels.

read more

Torment and blessing

Wednesday 28 September, 2011

Chinese dissident Liao Yiwu escaped into exile in Germany in July this year. His new book about his life in Chongqing prison has just been published in German as "Für Ein Lied und Hundert Lieder". Both book and author have a life-threatening odyssey behind them. I am overjoyed that Liao Yiwu is here with us and not at home in prison. By Herta Müller
read more

In the vortex of congealed time

Monday 12 September, 2011

No other European city suffered more in World War II than Leningrad under siege, when over a million people lost their lives. Russian literature delivers a rich testimony of the events which have been all but forgotten by the West. Only a few works, though, also do the disaster aesthetic justice. By Oleg Yuriev
read more

My unrelenting vice

Tuesday 6 September 2011

In this apology for the vice of reading, Bora Cosic describes the magnificent and fantastic discoveries of one of its practitioners – revealing how texts contain what we bring to them, how we sometimes read without reading and how books are not only found in books but many other places. 
read more

Potential market, no buyers

Monday 4 July, 2011

The most successful Croatian book of 2008 sold exactly 1,904 copies. Not what one could really call a market, although together the successor republics represent a single language community. A look at the situation of publishers and authors in the former Yugoslavia. By Norbert Mappes-Niediek.
read more

Head versus hand

Monday 27 June, 2011

TeaserPicThis year's German International Literature Award goes to "Venushaar", a Russian novel that starts out as a dialogue between an asylum seeker and an immigration officer, and opens into a vast choir of voices. A conversation with its author Mikhail Shishkin, a literary giant in his own country, and his German translator Andreas Tretner. By Ekkehard Knörer. (Image: Mikhail Shishkin © Yvonne Böhler)
read more

Cry for life

Monday 20 May, 2011

Algeria's youth: Frustrated, isolated and in the stranglehold of clandestine political structures. Young Algerians are rebelling against being locked in traditional political and social structures, but have no chance of a national uprising like that in Tunisia, says Algerian author Boualem Sansal. An interview with Reiner Wandler.
read more

Witness to intellectual suicide

Tuesday 3 May, 2011

TeaserPicOn what would have been Romanian philosopher E.M. Cioran's 100th birthday, Suhrkamp has published a volume of his essays from the 1930s, "Über Deutschland". Effervescing with enthusiasm for Hitler and fascist ideas, they cast a dark shadow over his later writing. Fritz Raddatz wishes he'd never had to read such abominations and bids a former companion a bitter farewell. Photo: E.M. Cioran © Surhrkamp Verlag
read more

RIP Andre Müller

Wednesday 13 April, 2011

TeaserPicAndre Müller Germany's most insightful and most feared interviewer is dead. Elfriede Jelinek said of him in her obituary: "Andre Müller goes all the way into people and then he makes them into language, and only then do they become themselves." Read his interviews with Ingmar Bergman and Hitler's sculptor Arno Breker in English. Photo courtesy Bibliothek der Provinz
read more

A country on the edge of time

Monday 4 April, 2011

TeaserPicSerbia was the country in focus at this year's Leipzig Book Fair – its extensive literature seems to be bound up in the straitjacket of politics. Serbia is having a hard time with Europe, and Europe is having a hard time with Serbia. Although there are signs of a softening stance, the country is still locked up in the self-imposed nationalist isolation into which it manoeuvred itself as the aggressor in the Yugoslavian war of secession. A visit there inspires mixed feelings. By Jörg Plath
Photo: Sreten Ugricic
read more