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On Language: I have rarely read a poem like it - Marcella Polain

The winning poem declares itself immediately through its title. It is about language, is written in three languages and yet begins with the poet's declaration that she has none. It moves between languages -- sometimes translating, sometimes not -- so that we (readers) experience the destabilising of the world similar to that which is all the time experienced by those who live outside their first (or second) language(s). Only two of these languages are accessible to me but such is the poet's skill that my exclusion from the third enhanced, rather than diminished, my understanding of the poet's intention. Similarly, English misspellings worked as (intentional or unintentional) visual evidence of the impossibility of seamlessness or direct translation, that languages (like humans) can't be easily understood or transplanted, that living, speaking, thinking, belonging is never straightforward nor complete. This is an intensely moving poem, deeply philosophical, political, personal and universal. I have rarely read a poem like it.

Excerpt from Marcella Polain's Judges report

2011 Karen W Treanor Poetry Awards