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Judges Josephine Balmer, Katie Gramich, WN Herbert and Stephen Romer were unanimous in their choice of Allen Prowle as winner of the 2015 Stephen Spender Prize. Any of his five consummately accomplished translations of Dutch poet Rutger Kopland might have won, but Johnson Brothers Ltd, a moving memory of the poet’s father, emerged as their favourite. Read the winning and commended entries and judges’ reports.

Acherontia Atropos

Greek and Italian translations took second and third place in the Open category. Francesca Gale’s Long-Distance Conversation by Anestis Evangelou delicately conveyed the original Greek and managed to reproduce the rueful surprise at the end. Martin Bennett’s richly descriptive Acherontia Atropos from Guido Gozzano’s overlooked fragmentary epic had the ominous moth flapping against the window ‘three, four times, body a bony knocker’.


Three very different poems won the judges’ votes in the 18-and-under category. Joint first were Beatrix Crinnion, whose take on Tomas Transtömer’s Allegro combined strong decisions about form and layout with precision of tone, and Anna Leader with her sensuous rendering of Weeds, Jan Wagner’s despairing ode to ground elder. Maud Mullan’s elegant re-working of Callimachus (A Lament at the Door) took third prize.

Nikola and his wife Nikola Vaptsarov and his wife

Eleven-year-old Viktoria Mileva’s grandmother introduced her to Farewell, the short and poignant poem written by Bulgarian poet Nikola Vaptsarov to his wife hours before his execution in 1942. Euan Ong chose to translate Alain Bosquet’s ‘Pages volantes’ – In Circulation, in his inventive version – because it deals with the difficulties of translation. Viktoria and Euan were joint winners of the 14-and-under category.


Joshua James, who came second last year in the 18-and-under category with his wart-repelling incantatory Anglo-Saxon spell, Against a Wen, will be at the Children’s Bookshow with award-winning poet, novelist and translator Kevin Crossley-Holland and writer, editor and translator Daniel Hahn in an Anglo-Saxon translation workshop based on Kevin Crossley-Holland’s The Exeter Book Riddles. 5–6pm, Friday 20 November, Europe House, London SW1P 3EU. Tickets are free from Suzanne Westbrook and booking is essential.

Translators in Schools

As part of the Southbank Centre's London Literature Festival, 60 schoolchildren from four local primary schools met in early October in the Clore Ballroom of the Royal Festival Hall to embark on The Big Translate. Led by translators from the Translators in Schools programme they translated into English ten strikingly illustrated children’s books from around the world, creating new hybrid creatures and translating animal noises along the way. The Big Translate was supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and by the European Commission.

The Stephen Spender Trust promotes literary translation and widens knowledge about Stephen Spender and his circle of writers by means of readings, talks and a seminar series in partnership with the Institute of English Studies.

in association with The Guardian
supported by
Old Possum’s Practical Trust
Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation

Congratulations to the 2015 winners and commended!

Joint winner: Viktoria Mileva
Nikola Vaptsarov (Bulgarian)
Joint winner: Euan Ong
‘In Circulation’
Alain Bosquet (French)

Thomas Delgado-Little
‘The Victims Won’t Speak’
Carmen Conde (Spanish)

Anissa Felah
‘The Cicada and the Ant’
Jean de la Fontaine (French)

Victoria Fletcher
‘The Song about the End of the World’
Czesław Miłosz (Polish)

Grace Guthrie
Sulpicia (Latin)

Joint first: Beatrix Crinnion
Tomas Tranströmer (Swedish)

Joint first: Anna Leader
Jan Wagner (German)

Third: Maud Mullan
‘A Lament at the Door’
Callimachus (Ancient Greek)

Sarah Hudis
‘Writing in the Sand’
Iwan Llwyd (Welsh)

Anna Leader
Jan Wagner (German)

Euan McGinty
‘Strong in the Rain’
Miyazawa Kenji (Japanese)

Alexandra Seizani-Dimitriadi
‘The Monogram’
Odysseus Elytis (Greek)

Chloe Taylor
‘Despair Is Seated on a Bench’
Jacques Prévert (French)

Open category
First: Allen Prowle
‘Johnson Brothers Ltd’
Rutger Kopland (Dutch)

Second: Francisca Gale
‘Long-Distance Conversation’
Anestis Evangelou (Greek)

Third: Martin Bennett
‘Acherontia Atropos’
Guido Gozzano (Italian)

Ken Cockburn
Christine Marendon (German)

Allen Prowle
Rutger Kopland (Dutch)

Michaela Pschierer-Barnfather
‘Title Colon Dictation’
Michael Schönen (German)

Anne Stokes
‘Peonies at Pentecost’
Monika Rinck (German)

Michael Swan
‘A Dream about My Mother’
Henrik Nordbrandt (Danish)

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