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The Stephen Spender Prize 2020 for poetry in translation
in association with the Guardian

Polish Spotlight 14-and-under category, commended

Read the judges’ comments
Download the 2020 booklet
Email to request a free hard copy of the booklet (UK addresses only)
Read the winning entries from previous years

Michaela Konkolewska-Grybė

Tea Party

Aunty Hela and Uncle Jesse
Invited us round for a cup of tea
A crowd of neighbours, half the family
And some friends (two dozen actually)

"Is everyone here?"
"Wait, I'm counting!"
(Look at the amount of sweets she's downing!)
"The lady with the red cat isn't here!"
(Help yourself to some cake, my dear)

"The one that lives on the ground floor?
"Yes! Her."
"Is she sleeping?"
"I'm not sure"
"Perhaps the lady is just shy?"
"Maybe she forgot the time?"
"Maybe she is getting dressed?
"But why? We are all her friends."
"I'll go get her! Wait for me?"

But they all ran out of tea

Translated from Polish by Michaela Konkolewska-Grybė


Ciocia Hela z wujkiem Tadkiem
zaprosili na herbatkę
tłum sąsiadów, pół rodziny
i znajomych dwa tuziny.

– Czy są wszyscy...?
– Zaraz...! Liczę...
(Proszę, jedzcie już słodycze.)
Nie ma damy z rudą kotką!
(Częstuj się szarlotką, złotko.)

– Tej, co mieszka na parterze?
– Tak, tej właśnie!
– Śpi?
– Nie wierzę!
– Może dama jest nieśmiała?
– Może o nas zapomniała?
– Może się przed lustrem stroi?
– Ale po co? Sami swoi...
– Pójdę po nią! Poczekajcie?

Lecz już było po herbatce.

Agnieszka Frączek

Reproduced by kind permission of the poet and Wydawnictwo Literatura


Translation commentary

For my entry I chose the poem 'Herbatka' by Agnieszka Frączek.

The first challenge for me was finding rhyming words. The poem also had rhythm so I had to find words that would create a similar flow.

The second challenge was to find a name for my character (the uncle) that rhymed with the word 'tea'. I couldn't think of any names off the top of my head so I went to Google and found the name Jesse.

The third challenge was to add in speech. In the poem there were many conversations and it was difficult to think of dialogue that had rhythm and rhyme.

Overall, I really enjoyed translating this poem.

Michaela Konkolewska-Grybė