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Jan Wagner Maria Teresa Horta (left) and Lesley Saunders

Lesley Saunders is this year’s Open prize winner, beguiling judges Katie Gramich, Sean O’Brien and Stephen Romer with her witty and erotic translation from the Portuguese of Maria Teresa Horta’s Poem. She also received a commendation for her translation of The Misses by Yvette K Centeno, described as ‘haunting and unsettling’ by Katie Gramich. Read the winning and commended entries and judges’ reports.

Jan Wagner

Second prize went to Theophilus Kwek for his clever rendering of Wong Yoon Wah’s Chinese poem, Moving House. This formal tour-de-force presented the poem in six squares, representing a life being packed into boxes. Mark McGuinness’s accomplished version of the proem to Troilus and Criseyde, which displays Chaucer’s compassion for those who suffer ‘swich peyne and wo as Loves folke endur’, took third prize.


In the 18-and-under category, John Tinneny’s take on Irish poet Nuali Ní Dhomhnaill’s witty Persephone with its BMW-driving Hades won over the judges. ‘He’s only after giving me a pomegranate,’ Persephone tells her mother. More wit came from Catullus 13, translated by George Jones, which took second prize, third place going to Alice Mee for her atmospheric rendering of Lorca’s Ballad of the Moon. Tomás Sergeant was voted winner of the 14-and-under category for his translation of Desire, which Sean O’Brien felt ‘showed a readiness to engage with the difficult directness and immediate depth of feeling found in work by Lorca’.

Translators in Schools

In June, thanks to the Mercers’ Company, five graduates of the Translators in Schools programme went to the West Midlands to help children from Short Wood Primary School near Telford translate books from Russian, Polish, Croatian and French. It was a magical day of laughter and discovery.

Suzanne JoinsonSuzanne Joinson

Award-winning novelist Suzanne Joinson has been appointed Director of the Stephen Spender Trust, succeeding Robina Pelham Burn, who is stepping down at the end of November after almost 16 years in the role. Suzy has previously worked at the British Council in the field of international literature and translation, Arts Council England, Book Trust and Waterstones.

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

Congratulations to the 2016 winners and commended!

14-and-under Winner: Tomás Sergeant ‘Desire’ Federico García Lorca (Spanish)

Thomas Delgado-Little
‘The Crime’
Antonio Machado (Spanish)

Jamie Kennedy
‘The Soldier’
Emilio Prados (Spanish)

First: John Tinneny
Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill (Irish)

Second: George Jones
‘Catullus 13’

Third: Alice Mee
‘Ballad of the Moon’
Federico García Lorca (Spanish)

Michael O’Connor
‘Open Windows’
Victor Hugo (French)

Open category
First: Lesley Saunders
‘Poem’ by Maria Teresa Horta (Portuguese)

Second: Theophilus Kwek
‘Moving House’
Wong Yoon Wah (Chinese)

Third: Mark McGuinness
from Troilus and Criseyde
Chaucer (Middle English)

Rey Conquer and Izabela Rakar
from ‘The First World War’
Thomas Kling (German)

Peter Russell
Günther Grass (German)

Lesley Saunders
‘The Misses’
Yvette K. Centeno (Portuguese)

Graham Sells
Giorgio Caproni (Italian)

The Stephen
Spender Trust
promotes literary translation and widens knowledge about Stephen Spender and his circle of writers.

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