Sarah Riggs

Time, by Sarah Riggs translated from the French written by Etel Adnan

Griffin Poetry Prize 2020
International Winner

Book: Time

Translator: Sarah Riggs

Poet: Etel Adnan

Publisher: Nightboat Books

Click here to read and listen to an excerpt.


Sarah Riggs

Sarah Riggs is the author of five books of poetry in English: Waterwork (2007), Chain of Miniscule Decisions in the Form of a Feeling (2007), 60 Textos (2010), Autobiography of Envelopes (2012), and Pomme & Granite (2015). She has translated and co-translated six books of contemporary French poetry into English, including most recently Oscarine Bosquet’s Present Participle. Sarah Riggs lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Etel Adnan

Etel Adnan was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1925. She studied philosophy at the Sorbonne, U.C. Berkeley, and at Harvard, and taught at Dominican College in San Rafael, California. In 2014 she was awarded one of France’s highest cultural honors: l’Ordre de Chevalier des Arts et Lettres and was a winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry, and the California Book Award for Poetry in 2013 for Sea and Fog. Her most recent books are Night (2016) and Surge (2018).

Judges’ Citation

“‘I say that I’m not afraid/of dying because I haven’t/ yet had the experience/ of death’ writes Etel Adnan in the opening poem to Time. What is astonishing here is how she manages to give weariness its own relentless energy. We are pulled quickly through this collection – each poem, only a breath, a small measure of the time that Adnan is counting. Every breath is considered, measured, observant – perceiving even ‘a crack in the/ texture of the day.’ If Adnan is correct and ‘writing comes from a dialogue/ with time’ then this is a conversation the world should be leaning into, listening to a writer who has earned every right to be listened to.”

Truths are

Truths are
department stores:
you are going up,
you take the escalator,
you don’t come back

In the tentative
darkness of the
raisins there was
half of the
then the shadow
of the past

Sometimes I get ready for the
voyage of no return,
but dawn raises the curtains,
and my adolescence
is standing at the corner
of nowhere

Under the wonder of
cold skies

From Time by Sarah Riggs, translated from the French written by Etel Adnan
Copyright © 2019 by Etel Adnan
English translation © 2019 by Sarah Riggs

More about Sarah Riggs and Etel Adnan

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Photo credits:
Sarah Riggs, by Omar Berrada