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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, 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, 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

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". - let's talk european