The Complete Elegies of Sextus Propertius
NTA Winner 2005
The 2005 National Translation Award winner is Vincent Katz for his translation The Complete Elegies of Sextus Propertius.
Vincent Katz is a poet, translator, art critic, editor, dramatist, film maker, and curator. He is the author of nine books of poetry, including Cabal of Zealots (1988, Hanuman Books), Understanding Objects (2000, Hard Press), and Rapid Departures (2005, Ateliê Editorial). Katz has collaborated with poet Francesco Clemente, Alcuni Telefonini (Granary Books 2008) and artist Wayne Gonzales, Judge (Charta and Libellum 2007) as well as many other artists. He was awarded a Rome Prize Fellowship in Literature at the American Academy in Rome for 2001-2002. He had a one-month residency at the American Academy in Berlin in the spring of 2006. He is the editor of the poetry and arts journal VANITAS and of Libellum books.
Katz’s poems have been published in numerous journals including the Evergreen Review and Mississippi Review. His video documentary with Vivien Bittencourt, Man in the Woods: The Art of Rudy Burckhardt was screened at the 22nd Montreal International Festival of Films on Art in 2004, and their film Kiki Smith: Squatting The Palace was shown at the Film Forum in New York, the 25th Montreal International Festival of Films on Art in 2007. Katz’s play Hippolyta was performed by The Medicine Show in New York, June 2005.
You can read more about Katz on his home page: Vincent Katz
“Not surprisingly, perhaps, Propertius’s poetry presents unusual difficulties to the translator. His restlessness, erudition, self-doubt, and evident love of experimentation make him, as one scholar put it, “a poet difficult to get a purchase on.”…. Whether such a translation comes close to the sound and sense of the original is dubious, but if we compare Katz’s work to that of his predecessors, we might come to admire the greater vividness and punch of his renderings–qualities that he has summoned, for the most part, without undue strain or artificiality. ” — John Toren, Rain Taxi
“One very particular modern American poet was famously taken with the Umbrian’s lively, pompous, eloquent, pedantic, subtle and comic qualities–what Katz calls his “willful strangeness” and “rough beauty”–namely Ezra Pound. It is a fascinating exercise to compare Katz’s sturdily faithful version [to Pound's].” — Paul Cartledge, Sunday Telegraph
“This is a gem few translators ever get the pleasure of polishing. Mr. Katz has put on a nice coat. As for the details of the translation, Mr. Katz has done an admirable job.” — Bill Luoma, Poetry Project Newsletter
“It is good to have these supple, lucid renderings of Propertius which well capture the complexity of his brilliant elegies through another artist’s virtuosity. Katz’s translation should do much to preserve the reputation of one of Rome’s most important and powerful poets for the present generation and beyond.” — Michael C. J. Putnam, Brown University
“This work is a consummate labor of love, which has managed to translate the ageless sophistication of the Roman poet Propertius (50 to 16 BC) into the distracted dissonance of our own perilous times. Himself an accomplished poet, Vincent Katz has found both an idiom and a cadence specific to his master’s art. The result is a wonderful, dense text of exceptional poetry, which brings Propertius back to us from the dusty shelves of history.” — Robert Creeley
“Of all the great Roman poets, Propertius tends, as they say of wines, to travel least well. Where the others have frequently found themselves decently transcribed into English, Propertius–complex, insolent, heartbreaking, sardonic, brilliantly ambiguous, outrageously protean–has not. Until now. Vincent Katz has here devised for him a rich and subtle American style, one that evokes, with appropriate delicacy and power, his variety, his shifting tones and textures, his unique shimmers and shadows.” — W. R. Johnson, University of Chicago