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The Stephen Spender Prize 2019 for poetry in translation
in association with the Guardian – how to enter

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

Entry is online or by post. Each entry must comprise:
• your translation
• the original poem
• your commentary (see below for guidelines)

• Anybody aged 18 or under on 12 July 2019 can enter the prize for free.
• The fee per entry for those over 18 is £7.

Entries must arrive no later than midnight GMT on Friday 12 July 2019.

Before you enter, please read the conditions of entry below.

Further information can be found on the FAQ page. Any queries not answered there should be emailed to .

 Enter online


 Enter by post

Download an entry form in a choice of formats here and email it with your translation(s), the original poem(s) and your commentary or commentaries. All documents should be in MS Word format or equivalent (not PDF). If you are over 18, please pay the entry fee of £7 per translation by PayPal (see below) or by UK cheque or international money order, made payable to The Stephen Spender Trust and posted to the address below. Submit your entries to the address below.

The Stephen Spender Prize
Stephen Spender Trust
PO Box 1618

Download a printable entry form in a choice of formats here and send it with your translation(s), the original poem(s), your commentary or commentaries and (if you are over 18) your UK cheque or international money order for £7 sterling per translation made payable to The Stephen Spender Trust.

Payment via PayPal (for postal entries only)

Entry details
Name of entrant
Title of first poem

Please note that you only need to pay by PayPal if submitting by post. If submitting online you will be prompted to pay when you submit via Submittable.

 Conditions of entry


1. 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.


2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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?
5. 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, or entered in the Submittable form.

6. Entries may be sent via Submittable or posted or emailed and must arrive no later than midnight (UK time) on Friday 12 July 2019. Postal entries, which should be in black type on A4 paper, single-sided and not stapled, should be accompanied by an entry form and sent to The Stephen Spender Trust, PO Box 1618, Oxford, OX4 9LW, United Kingdom.

7. Competitors may submit as many entries as they like, so long as each entry in the Open category is accompanied by an entry fee of £7.00 (pounds sterling). Anyone eighteen or under on 12 July 2019 is exempt from this charge.

8. The entry fee must be paid through Submittable – or by PayPal, postal order or crossed cheque drawn on a bank in the United Kingdom, made payable to the Stephen Spender Trust.

9. For acknowledgment of receipt of entries please enclose a stamped addressed envelope or give your email address on the entry form. Entries through Submittable can be tracked through the Submittable platform.

Adjudication and prizes

10. 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.

11. The Prize will be administered by the Stephen Spender Trust and judged by Mary Jean Chan, Margaret Jull Costa and Olivia McCannon. Their decision will be final and the organisers will not enter into any correspondence about the results.

12. The organisers reserve the right to change the judging panel without notice and not to award prizes if, in the judges' opinion, such an action is justified.

13. The results will be announced on the Stephen Spender Trust website in November 2019. The winners will be notified earlier, by the end of September 2019, and will be invited to a reception in London in November 2019.

14. The winning entries and any others the judges wish to select will be published in a booklet. The copyright of each prize-winning and commended translation and commentary will remain with the translator but the Stephen Spender Trust will have the right in perpetuity to publish and/or broadcast the translations and commentaries.

By entering the prize you give permission for the Stephen Spender Trust to hold the personal information you have given for the purpose of the 2018 Prize. The personal information that you provide will be securely stored by the Stephen Spender Trust and will be used for no other purpose than this Prize activity, nor knowingly passed to any other organisation or person not associated with or authorised by the Trust.

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.