• Subscribe to our e-letters

  • Facebook_icon

The Stephen Spender Prize 2019 for poetry in translation
in association with the Guardian – summary of entry conditions

The Stephen Spender Prize and the Polish Spotlight 2019 both open for entries on Friday 29 March.

Online entries will be via Submittable, for which you can already register here.


Entrants must be UK or Irish citizens or residents. There are three categories: Open (adult); 18-and-under, for entrants still 18 on the closing date; and 14-and-under, for entrants still 14 on the closing date.


Entrants are invited to submit an English translation of a published poem from any language, ancient or modern, together with the original poem and a commentary of no more than 300 words (guidelines for the commentary are at (4) below). The submitted translation should be no more than 60 lines long, so entrants may submit an extract if their chosen poem is longer. Self-translation is not accepted.

Each translation must be the original work of the entrant and not a copy or substantial copy of someone else's translation; it must not have been previously published or broadcast.

The commentary of no more than 300 words should briefly cover such matters as:
  • Your reason for translating this particular poem
  • Problems encountered in translating between the language of the original and English
  • Problems encountered in translating the poem you have chosen
  • Your approach to the poem. For example, if the original is in a particular form — rhyme or a regular metre — have you or have you not attempted to preserve that form in English?
Entries will be judged without the panel of judges knowing the identity of the competitors so the translator's name must not be on the translation, original poem or commentary, only on the entry form.


The winners of the Open category will receive £1,000 (first), £750 (second) and £500 (third); the winners of the 18-and-under category will receive £250 (first), £150 (second) and £100 (third); There will be one prize (£100) awarded in the 14-and-under category.

Polish Spotlight

This prize is for the translation of a Polish poem into English. The same conditions apply as to the main prize, but the age categories are:




There will be a cash prize of £100 for the winner in each category. Winning and commended poems will be published in the Stephen Spender Prize booklet.

Click here for information about last year's Polish Spotlight, with suggested poems and resources for teachers.