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Faced with 53 languages, from Alemannic to Yoruba, via Georgian, Punjabi and Slovenian, and poems that ranged from those written 2,500 years ago to contemporary French rap, the 2013 Times Stephen Spender Prize judges had a challenging job this summer. Susan Bassnett, Edith Hall, Patrick McGuinness and George Szirtes were unusually quick to reach agreement, however. Read the winning and commended entries and judges’ reports.

Stephen Spender Prize 2013

Karen Leeder, winner of
the Open category

‘The most beautiful butterflies, big as your hand,
he found skewered with pins. Once, he thought
he saw their wings still quivering – as if in memory
of the trees that had been felled, the tropical winds.
A draught, perhaps, had blown through the displays.’

Karen Leeder’s beautiful translation of Durs Grünbein’s ‘Childhood in the Diorama’ was the unanimous choice of the judges. 'One of the challenges' she wrote, 'was to catch the way different tones, the caustic and the lyrical, rub shoulders, without giving in to the temptation to smooth things out.'

'There was one outstanding, very ambitious piece in the 14-and-under category. The sophistication, assurance, and indeed freshness of Noah Norman’s rendering of one of Cyrano’s speeches from Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac was striking. It was at home with lines like "Play the lounge lizard in the salon". There were not too many lounge lizards in my fourteen-year-old vocabulary.' George Szirtes

Noah Norman, winner of the 14-and-under category

Francis Scarr, joint winner of the 18-and-under category in 2012 with his translation of Goethe’s ‘The Destruction of Magdeburg’, was the youngest ever participant at the British Centre for Literary Translation’s summer school, where, he writes, he learnt an incalculable amount not just about the craft of literary translation, but also about literary translation as a career and how it fits in with publishing and editing. Francis is now reading German and Russian at Selwyn College, Cambridge.

Are you free 3–5pm on Friday 15 November? Come to Europe House, Smith Square, London SW1 and listen to the 14-and-under and 18-and-under winners of the 2012 Times Stephen Spender Prize discuss with Daniel Hahn how they overcame the challenges facing a translator of poetry. Tickets for Found in Translation, organised by the Children's Bookshow, are free but booking is essential.

The quarterly literary magazine Ambit has a new editor in Briony Bax. Ambit 214, which features some of the most exciting emerging voices in poetry and fiction as well as delving into the contemporary art world, celebrates the winners of the 2012 Joseph Brodsky/Stephen Spender Prize

ambit magazine

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.

Congratulations to the 2013 winners and commended!

Winner: Noah Norman Cyrano’s speech from Cyrano de Bergerac Edmond Rostand (French)

Zélie Everest ‘King Midas’s donkey ears’ from Ovid’s Metamorphoses (Latin)

Takis Galatis ‘Toothache’ Wilhelm Busch (German)

Ludovica di Vincenzo ‘Death will come and she’ll have your eyes’ Cesare Pavese (Italian)

Joint first: Anna Leader 'The approaching winter’ Jules Laforgue (French)

Joint first: Ephraim Levinson ‘Abishag’ Rilke (German)

Third: Harry Sellen ‘A down-to-earth affair’ Erich Kästner (German)

Daina Auzins ‘While I loved you’ Juris Kronbergs (Latvian)

Claudia Habergham ‘The Eiffel Tower’ Guillaume Apollinaire (French)

Sam Norman ‘Life after death’ Pindar (ancient Greek)

Clio Takas ‘The third man’ Yiannis Ritsos (modern Greek)

Open category
First: Karen Leeder ‘Childhood in the Diorama’ Durs Grünbein (German)

Second: Alistair Elliot ‘Venice’ Mihai Eminescu (Romanian)

Joint third: Jane Tozer ‘Wulf my Wulf’, anon (Anglo-Saxon)

Joint third: John RG Turner ‘Hell’s ante-room’ from Dante’s Inferno (Italian)

Ken Cockburn ‘Bullbars’ Thomas Rosenlöcher (German)

Ian Crockatt ‘The terrible loss of his sons’ Egil Skallagrímsson (Old Norse)

Antoinette Fawcett ‘Safeguard’ Ed Leeflang (Dutch)

Jane Tozer ‘Dame Sirith’ anon (Middle English)

Ben Williams ‘The killing game’ MC Solaar (French)


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