Stephen Spender Prize
The Prize is now open for entries. To welcome newcomers to the open category, this year we will continue to award special commendations for the best first-time entries received.
Open Entry Guidelines
Submit an English translation of a published poem from any language, together with a commentary of no more than 300 words. The translation should be max. 60 lines (extracts are accepted). Please read our FAQs and Terms and Conditions before submitting.
The poem you translate can be from any language, ancient or modern. We want to celebrate poetry in all its forms and genres— texts from rap, spoken word and slam poetry are eligible and very welcome. Entries must still be in written form, but any commended entrants from rap/spoken word/slam genres would later be invited to make a video, should they wish, for publication on our website and social media channels.
We also welcome BSL entries. A BSL video of the original poem can be submitted, although the translation itself should still be in written form.
2021 Judges: Khairani Barokka, Daljit Nagra, Samantha Schnee.
All winning and commended entries in the open category will be published online and in our prize booklet.
Entry Fee: £9 per translated poem, payable via PayPal when completing the online submission form. This is the preferred payment method, but we can accept cheques (sent to the address on our Contact Us page) if you are unable to pay online.
Daljit Nagra is an award-winning poet, and a lecturer in Creative Writing at Brunel University, London. He has published four poetry collections with Faber & Faber. He has won the Forward Prize for Best Individual Poem and Best First Collection, the South Bank Show Decibel Award and the Cholmondeley Award. He is the inaugural Poet-in-Residence for Radio 4 & 4 Extra, and presents a weekly programme, Poetry Extra, on Radio 4 Extra. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was elected to its Council, and is a trustee of the Arvon Trust. He has judged many prizes including the Samuel Johnson Prize, the T. S. Eliot Prize, the Costa Prize, the David Cohen Prize and the National Poetry Competition.
Samantha Schnee is the founding editor of Words Without Borders. Her translation of The Goddesses of Water, a collection by Mexican poet Jeannette Clariond, is forthcoming from Shearsman Books in the UK (August 2021) and World Poetry Books in the US. Her translation of Carmen Boullosa’s penultimate novel, The Book of Anna, was published by Coffee House Press last year and her translation of Boullosa’s Texas: The Great Theft was shortlisted for the PEN America Translation Prize. She is a trustee of English PEN, where she chaired the Writers in Translation committee from 2014-17 and currently serves as secretary of the American Literary Translators Association. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, she now lives in Houston, Texas.
Khairani Barokka is an Indonesian writer, artist, and translator in London, whose work has been presented extensively, in fifteen countries. She was Modern Poetry in Translation’s Inaugural Poet-In-Residence, is on the Board of Shadow Heroes, and is Research Fellow at UAL’s Decolonising Arts Institute, Associate Artist at the National Centre for Writing (UK), and UK Associate Artist at Delfina Foundation. Among Okka’s honours, she was an NYU Tisch Departmental Fellow and is a UNFPA Indonesian Young Leader Driving Social Change. Okka is co-editor of Stairs and whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back (Nine Arches), author-illustrator of Indigenous Species (Tilted Axis; Vietnamese translation published by AJAR Press), and author of debut poetry collection Rope (Nine Arches Press).
Prizes in the open category
Our 2021 ceremony will be held virtually in the autumn, allowing poets, translators and prizewinners from all over the world to participate.