Thursday 4th Jul 2019

Christopher Nicholson Prize 2019




What a cosmopolitan bunch Christ’s Hospital pupils are – at least if their contributions to the CH Poetry In Translation Project 2019 are anything to go by!

Senior pupils went head to head in an attempt to win the Christopher Nicholson Prize; shortlisted poets were invited to participate in a seminar with Hephzibah Israel, senior lecturer in translation studies at Edinburgh University.

Scripts under consideration included translations from European languages both familiar (Italian, French, Spanish and German) and less so (Russian, Bulgarian, Swedish and Dutch), as well as renderings from further afield, including Tamil, Japanese, Mandarin and a Swahili/ Ancient Greek mashup.

The prize – named after a legendary CH teacher of the past, ‘Bomber’ Nicholson, was keenly contested. Lulu’s version of an avant-garde Japanese poem was highly commended. Dr Israel initially could not split Martha’s version of a modern Chinese poem and Phoebe’s reworking of a French song.

Pushed, she plumped for Phoebe on the basis of a remarkable statement, which described how she had linked the decisions she had made in her translation to the movement of a sung version of the poem. Her understanding of the musicality of the piece won the day.

CH has submitted no fewer than 16 entries to this year’s Stephen Spender competition for poetry in translation – and remarkably these cover some 12 languages. Not a bad experience to take off on your travels over the summer break!