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Poetry & Translation at the Poetry Cafe

July 10, 2012

By Holland Park Press

The Poetry Cafe 22 Betterton Street London WC2H 9BX
Wednesday 25 July at 7.30 pm
Tickets at the door: £5

Sarah Lawson will introduce some marvellous poems by Jacques Prévert and Arnold Jansen op de Haar will tell us about the poets who have inspired him.

It is odd that so little of Prévert’s poetry has been translated, since he is by a huge margin the most popular poet of the 20th century in France with book sales approaching 3 million. His poems, famed for his wry wit and his depiction of working-class life and attitudes, have been sung by prominent 20th century vocalists, including Marianne Oswald, Yves Montand, and Édith Piaf, as well Joan Baez and Iggy Pop. Yet in the UK Prévert is mostly known for screenplays for films directed by Marcel Carné, most famously Les Enfants du Paradis (1945).

Sarah Lawson’s Selected Poems by Jacques Prévert (Hearing Eye, 2002), a Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation for the Summer Quarter in 2002, is unique because it draws on five or six of Prévert’s poetry collections, whereas the main previous translation by Ferlinghetti dating back to 1956 only contains a selection from the first collection.

Sarah Lawson is a writer and poet who also translates from French, Spanish and Dutch. Her translation of Christine de Pisan’s Treasure of the City of Ladies (Penguin, 1985) was the first translation of that work in English since it was written in 1405. With MaÅ‚gorzata Koraszewska she has translated the poetry of Jan Twardowski (Serious Angel, Dedalus Press, 2003) and a group of aphorisms by S. J. Lec (included in Friends in the Country).

Her first full length poetry collection was Below the Surface, published by Loxwood-Stoneleigh 1996, and a second collection All the Tea in China came out in 2006. Some of her poems have been translated into Polish, Galician and Serbian. Recently her collection of 100 haiku, The Wisteria’s Children was published by Hearing Eye, who have also published her pamphlets Friends in the Country and Twelve Scenes of Malta. A full write-up of her writing career is available from

Arnold Jansen op de Haar started his career by becoming an officer in the Dutch Grenadier Guards but his love of books and poetry and his experiences during the Bosnian war pulled him towards a career as a full-time writer. Here are a few of the poets who inspired him: Cseslaw Milosz, Hugo Claus, Joseph Brodsky and Gerrit Kouwenaar.

Angel, Holland Park Press 2011 (Engel, Holland Park Press 2009) is the sequel to his novel King of Tuzla, Holland Park Press 2010 (De koning van Tuzla, De Arbeiderspers  2011). His poetry collection Yugoslav Requiem, Holland Park Press 2009 (Joegoslavisch requiem, Meulenhoff 2002) is a companion volume to King of Tuzla. He is currently working on a new poetry collection with the working title: The Orchard of Days Gone Past. More information about Arnold is available from

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Poetry & Translation aims to challenge and is organised by Holland Park Press