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Stephen Spender Prize 2020 open for submissions

The 2020 Stephen Spender Prize for poetry in translation and the Polish Spotlight are now open for submissions! There are some exciting changes this year – as part of our aim to make the prize more inclusive and vibrant than ever, we are welcoming translations from rap and spoken word, as well as from BSL poetry. There will also be more prizes and commendations in our youth categories. Click here for our resources hub.

We are keen to encourage adult newcomers to poetry translation, too – this year's open category will have additional commendations for the best first-time entries! Please see the Prize page for full details. Click here to download our resource on 'Poetry Translation for Newcomers', which is packed with creative tips and practical guidance.

Arts Council England grant

We're delighted to have received a grant from Arts Council England to support our development of virtual resources for young people. "Virtual Creative Translation" will enable us to expand our digital resources, providing creative translation activities for educators and young people across the country via our new resources hub and YouTube channel.

At this time of great isolation and distance, we can't wait to beam great international literature into homes and schools, to enable creative connections and collaborations.

This was only made possible thanks to public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Covid-19 Statement

At SST we believe that reading, translating and sharing literatures in many languages enriches lives, unlocks potential and develops creativity. We're determined to continue this work in the coming months, and to adapt our activities to support and sustain those in isolation and young people unable to attend school.

Alongside bringing translators together with young people for aspiration-raising, playful and creative activities, we have begun in recent months to develop digital resources that make this interaction sustainable and give it a broader reach. We'll be working in the coming weeks to develop our online activities so that these enriching interactions can continue and grow. We are also building our prize for poetry translation into an activity that all generations can engage in, both remotely and collaboratively.

Please if you'd like to hear more about these plans, or to get involved.

Read our latest newsletter

Stephen Spender Prize 2020

We're delighted to announce the judges for this year's Stephen Spender Prize: Mary Jean Chan will be joined by Khairani Barokka and Daljit Nagra. You can read more about their work as poets, translators and educators here:

Khairani Barokka
Mary Jean Chan
Daljit Nagra

This year's prize will have an additional age category for 16-and-under. We'll open for entries on 24 April, with a deadline of 17 July. We're delighted to be running the Polish Spotlight prize again this year, a special strand for translations of Polish poems.

The Stephen Spender Prize 2019 and Polish Spotlight 2019

The 2019 Prize was a great success, with over 700 entries from 65 languages. We hope to break this record in 2020!

Read the winning and commended Stephen Spender Prize entries here.
Read the winning and commended Polish Spotlight entries here.
View pictures of the awards night here.

The Polish Spotlight is generously supported by the Polish Cultural Institute.

The Impact of Creative Translation in the Classroom

What is the impact of our creative translation workshops on young language-learners and on speakers of English as an Additional Language? How do they promote creative writing and enhance literacy skills? What impact do they have on cohesion within multilingual classes, and on the status of multilingualism in schools?

Read all about it in the evaluation report on our Creative Translation in the Classroom and Polish Spotlight workshops in 2018.

Stephen Spender Trust Education Programmes: Latest news

  • Read about our brand new education programme, Creative Translation in the Classroom.
  • Teacher of Classics and German at St John's School in Leatherhead Oscar Barber has found that poetry translation is a fascinating, versatile and rewarding activity for his pupils. Here he offers an insight into St John's annual poetry translation competition — an ideal warm-up for the Stephen Spender Prize.
  • An article about our Polish Spotlight programme in the EAL Journal
  • Workshops in Bognor Regis, facilitated by Maja Konkolewska
    Adventurous attempts at preserving rhymes: Polish poetry translation
  • A partnership with the European Commission Representation in the UK enabled us to evaluate our new programmes in 2017–18, including 'Creative Translation in the Classroom' (see below) and the 'Polish Spotlight'. Click here to read the summary of our evaluation findings (pdf file).
  • Our 'Polish Spotlight' translation workshops 2017–18
  • Tips for holding a poetry translation workshop in your school
  • An example of a translation workshop for primary school pupils
  • Tips for teachers wishing to enter pupils into the Stephen Spender Prize for poetry in translation

New Director of the Trust appointed

The Stephen Spender Trust is very pleased to announce the appointment of Charlotte Ryland as the new Director of the Trust, beginning March 26th 2018.

Following a doctorate at UCL on the poet Paul Celan, Charlotte moved to Oxford to become Lecturer in German at The Queen's College. She is the editor of 'New Books in German', the project that promotes German-language literature internationally. She is also Postdoctoral Researcher on the 'Writing Brecht' project based in Oxford, which draws to a close this year. Charlotte has published widely on post-Holocaust literature (including the monograph Paul Celan's Encounters with Surrealism) and has edited student editions of German plays for Methuen Drama. Her translation of a dramatic fragment by Brecht is forthcoming in a volume co-edited with Tom Kuhn (Bloomsbury, 2019).

Charlotte is committed to languages outreach and to widening participation at university level, and was the founding co-ordinator of the Oxford German Network, the first university-led cultural network. She is currently researching the use of literature and translation in schools outreach. Charlotte lives with her family in Oxford.

David Rogers, Chair of the Trustees says: "We are hugely excited to have Charlotte joining us as Director. The unique combination of expertise and talents that she brings to the role will not only ensure the continued success of our established initiatives but it also promises to help the Trust open up new areas of Spender's influence to the public and the academic world."

Charlotte says: "I am delighted to be joining the Stephen Spender Trust, and look forward to building on its excellent work with international literature and translation. Spender's own focus on bridging cultures and giving a voice to international writers is reflected perfectly in the Trust's activities, and this focus feels as important now as it did during his lifetime."

Call-out to Translators

Translators in Schools is looking to appoint 4 translators to enable teachers to co-deliver original projects around creative translation-in-the-classroom, commencing 8 June 2017. More...

The West Midlands Big Translate

On 8 June five graduates of the Translators in Schools programme visited lovely Short Wood Primary in Wellington, near Telford, and amid a waving sea of cow parsley helped the children to discover what translation involves, what happens to books when they make the journey from one language (and culture) to another, and how languages and translated literature enrich our lives. The children told us it was 'the best day of their lives', that translation was 'awesome' and that they never realised they could become expert translators from Russian (or Polish, or Croatian or French) in a day! Thank you to the Mercers' Company for their funding.

Translators in Schools

Watch the Translators in Schools film and read about this hands-on training programme that gives translators, teachers and teaching assistants the skills and creative confidence to run imaginative translation workshops in schools, enabling them to use translation as a way into creative writing and as a bridge to exploring literature in other languages.

The Children's Bookshow

Stephen Spender Prize winner Joshua James joined Kevin Crossley-Holland and Daniel Hahn at the Children's Bookshow to lead an Anglo-Saxon translation workshop based on Kevin Crossley-Holland's The Exeter Book Riddles. More...

The Big Translate

On 6 October in the Clore Ballroom of the Royal Festival Hall, 60 schoolchildren from four local primary schools translated into English ten strikingly illustrated books from around the world in workshops led by translators from the Translators in Schools programme. Read more about Translators in Schools.

Stephen Spender Prize anniversary readings, 12 March 2015

Listen to Noma Dumezweni, Patricia Hodge and Michael Pennington reading 26 Spender Prize-winning translations.

A House in St John's Wood: In Search of my Parents

Matthew Spender's intimate portrait of Stephen and Natasha Spender draws on his personal memories and unpublished material found in the north London house his parents had rented since 1941. It is published in the UK by William Collins and in the USA by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

"My God! What a childhood. What insight" Stephen Frears

Translation Nation: inspiring language-learning and celebrating linguistic diversity in primary and secondary schools

Translation Nation is a double award-winning project which aims to inspire in children and young people a lifelong interest in literature and culture from around the world. It promotes pride in and enthusiasm for the many languages that are spoken and taught in UK schools, instils recognition of the important role translation plays in our lives, and encourages an enjoyment of literary English and the nuances of the English language.