Anna Zaranko is a Polish-English translator living in the UK. Born to Polish parents who came to England following the War, it was some time before she realised that she was speaking two languages. Her earliest literary memories as a small child are the opening words of Poland’s great 19th-century epic poem, Pan Tadeusz (though she did not question for one moment why Lithuania was being addressed); falling asleep under a massive tome of Maria Konopnicka’s poetry (which she read religiously every night); and being expected to learn reams of poetry off by heart and recite it to her aunts (which she would perform only out of sight, from the staircase outside the sitting room, shouting loudly so that her audience could hear).
A degree in Russian followed at the University of Durham where she was particularly charmed by medieval Russian tales and wept over Dr Avril Pyman’s biography of Alexander Blok. Despite being assured by her Russian tutors in Minsk that a few more months would be enough to nail her immediately detectable Polish accent and render her pretty fluent, following her degree she ended up in Krakow as a British Council Scholar. An initial intention to continue looking at the 19th century was overwhelmed by the extraordinary encounter with Polish culture in general and 20th-century Polish poetry in particular.
On returning to England, she has worked in publishing, done research on Polish poetry at Oxford, worked as an assistant editor on POLIN: A Journal of Polish-Jewish Studies, and as a translator on a variety of short projects, including short stories for Storm: New Writing from East and West, pieces for the European Cultural Foundation, and a revised edition of Boleslaw Prus’s The Doll. Her work as a reviewer, writer, and translator was interrupted and restricted by the surprising appearance of five ingenious children who tied her to the legs of her desk by her shoelaces assiduously (which was quite helpful) and noisily (which was not). She is currently commissioning editor of Second Spring: International Journal of Faith and Culture and is working on a translation of the 19th-century Russian classic, The Way of the Pilgrim for Penguin Books, as well as contributing to the translation (from French) of a catalogue of icons (for Cerf, Paris) recording the icons and sculptures made by Gregory Krug and Leonid Ouspensky in the Orthodox Churches of the Russian diaspora in Paris and its surroundings.