Stephen Spender Prize

The Stephen Spender Prize is now closed. Thank you to all who participated! The winners and commendees will be announced in November, and celebrated at a virtual event on the evening of 17 November.

Guide for Teachers
Stephen Spender Youth Prize 2021

Youth Prize Entry Guidelines

Please submit an English translation of a published poem from any language, together with a commentary of no more than 300 words: giving 3 examples of difficult decisions that you had to make when translating the poem, and explaining how you overcame them. The translation should be no more than 60 lines (extracts are accepted). Please read the full Terms and Conditions and FAQs before submitting your entry.

Please note that the commentary will be judged on content rather than style. For example, it could discuss:

  • A particular word or phrase which presented a challenge to translate
  • A cultural reference which needed to be adapted in translation
  • Any particular problems presented by the style/form of the original poem. For example, if the original is in a particular form — rhyme or a regular metre — was it possible to preserve that form in English, or did you decide to make changes?

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 translations of poems in British Sign Language. A BSL video of the original poem can be submitted, although the translation itself should still be in written form.

See our resources hub for suggested poems, videos and more, and our YouTube channel for mini masterclasses and videos by previous winners. Here you can download a PowerPoint to introduce MFL learners to poetry translation and the Stephen Spender Prize: Introduction to translating poetry

Inspired by the innovative approaches we have seen from educators in previous years, we will give a special reward for up to three teachers who show an exceptional engagement in the Prize.Introduction to translating poetry (ppt)

The 2022 Prize
is now closed


Photo of SSP Judge Daljit Nagra

Daljit Nagra

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.

Photo of SSP Judge Samantha Schnee

Samantha Schnee

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. 

Photograph of Khairani Barokka

Khairani Barokka

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).


14-and-under category: £75 each for three winners

16-and-under category: £100 each for three winners

18-and-under category: £150 each for three winners

In each category there will also be up to 3 highly commended entrants and up to 30 commendees. These commendations are new for 2021.

All winning entries will be published in our booklet and online; highly commended entrants will be published online; and all commendees’ names will be printed in our booklet and will receive special certificates.


Awards ceremony

Our 2021 ceremony will be held virtually in the autumn, allowing poets, translators and prizewinners from all over the world to participate.


If you have any queries, please see the FAQs, Terms and Conditions, or contact [email protected]