Prize-winning Poetry for Languages Student Alice

Languages student Alice has won third prize in the 18-and-under category of a National poetry translation competition – The Stephen Spender Prize 2016 in association with The Guardian.
Picked for her impressive translation of Federico García Lorca’s atmospheric and chant-like Spanish poem ‘Ballad of the Moon,’ Sixth Former Alice’s winning poem was picked from over 400 entries by entrants aged 9 – 90, submitting translations from 41 different languages and dialects.
Launched to celebrate the art of literary translation and encourage a new generation of literary translators, entrants were invited to translate a poem from any language – ancient or modern – into English, and submit the original and their translation, along with a commentary of their work.
Judged by Professor of English Literature at Cardiff University Katie Gramich, poet and novelist Sean O’Brien and poet and translator Stephen Romer, commenting on Alice’s entry Sean O’Brien said: “Alice’s beguiling and exciting rendering of Lorca’s ‘Ballad of the Moon’ brought back something of the impact of encountering poetry itself for the first time – no mean feat.”
Shedding a light on the poetry process, Alice revealed the decisions behind her translations in her commentary. She said: “When translating this poem, I wanted to retain the sense of straddling the real and the imagined, as it alludes to Andalusian gypsy folklore that if a child gazes upon the moon too long, he can be taken away by it. Lorca partly achieves this through rhyme and rhythm, but I found this was almost impossible to transfer into English. I therefore had to find ways to compensate and it was a challenge.”
On winning she said: “I was surprised as it was quite last minute and I decided to enter during my exams but it was a fun thing to do.”
As well as being published in The Guardian, Alice received the prize at London’s University of Notre Dame where she read her translation to an audience including the three judges who commended her brilliant achievement.
Alice will be taking part in the French rounds of next week’s 10th Annual North School’s Modern Languages Debating Competition, hosted at CHS.
Read Alice’s Stephen Spender poem and her commentary here.