Are you based in the UK, Ireland or a British school overseas, and have you heard about the Stephen Spender Prize for Poetry in Translation? There are categories for young people (14-and-under, 16-and-under, and 18-and-under), making it the perfect lockdown homeschool activity if you know more than one language, or are curious to explore another one.
If you feel like having a go, but you’re unsure about how to find a poem, this list is for you!
This is a list of poets for around 30 languages commonly spoken by pupils in UK and Irish schools, with links where possible to poems. Some of these poets have poems in translation already: you could look at them for inspiration and to get a feel for the style of the poet. You could even compose a new translation of a poem already translated; every poem has many ways of being understood and countless possible translations.
The Stephen Spender Trust is also compiling a list of recommended poems for primary and secondary school pupils by poets whose work is out of copyright. Please, if you can recommend poems, do get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have fun reading and translating!
Breyten Breytenbach (b. 1939) ~ “informally considered as the national poet laureate by Afrikaans-speaking South Africans”
Joan Hambidge (b. 1956) ~ a prolific poet and the first Afrikaans author to explore lesbianism from a personal perspective
Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) ~ poet and author regarded as the Palestinian national poet
Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998) ~ Syrian diplomat, poet, writer and publisher
Nazik al-Malaika (1923-2007) ~ Iraqi female poet, considered by many to be one of Iraq’s most influential contemporary poets
Dunya Mikhail (b. 1965) ~ Iraqi American poet with several collections of poetry, including a bilingual edition from publisher New Directions.
Iman Mersal (b. 1966) ~ Egyptian poet with four books of poems in Arabic: Ittisafat, 1990; Mamarr Mu’tim Yasluh li Ta’allum al-Raqs, 1995; Al-Mashy Atwal Waqt Mumkin, 1997; and Jughrafia Badila, 2006. Several of her poems appear in translation by Khaled Mattawa on Words Without Borders
Nouri al-Jarrah (b. 1956) ~ Syrian poet with a number of poetry collections
Maram al-Masri (b. 1962) ~ Syrian writer and poet, living in Paris, She is considered “one of the most renowned and captivating feminine voices of her generation” in Arabic
Mohammed Abdel Bari (b. 1985) ~ Sundanese poet and writer, awarded many prizes including The African Arab Youth Award (2016) and Sharjah Award for Arab Creativity (2013).
Sukumar Ray (1887-1923) ~ Bengali poet, story writer, playwright and editor, remembered mainly for his writings for the children.
Upendrakishore Roy Chowdhury (1863-1915) ~ was a prolific children’s writer from Bengal. His works, including Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, Tuntunir Boi, Chheleder Ramayan, Chheleder Mahabharat, are classics of Bengali children’s literature. He edited and published the children’s magazine Sandesh, for which he wrote and illustrated stories, poems and essays.
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) ~ was a Bengali poet, writer, music composer, and painter. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.
Lila Majumdar (1908 – 2007) ~ prolific author of poems, short stories and novellas, particularly famous for her book of stories for children, Din Dupure (Midday; দিন-দুপুরে).
Premendra Mitra (1904–1988) ~ renowned Bengali poet, novelist, short story writer and film director.
Sunil Gangopadhyay (1934–2012) ~ Indian Bengali poet and novelist, founding editor of the poetry journal Krittibas, and author of a series of classic children’s novels about a character called Kakababu.
Narayan Gangopadhyay (1918-1970) ~ Indian novelist, poet and short story writer, and one of the leading writers of modern Bengali literature. He is famous for his stories for children about Tenida .
Elisaveta Bagriana (Елисавета Багряна) (1918-1970) ~ along with Gabe, considered one of the “first ladies of Bulgarian women’s literature”. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature three times
Iana Boukova (Яна Букова) (b. 1968) ~ considered one of the most significant Bulgarian authors of the 21st century, she was awarded the 2012 Hristo G. Danov National prize and the 2019 Ivan Nikolov National Poetry Award
Yordan Eftimov (Йордан Ефтимов) (b. 1971) ~ six of his poetry books have been awarded with national literary prizes.
Dora Gabe (1888-1983) ~ she published poetry for adults and children, and in her later years she was a prolific translator from Polish and Russian
Boryana Neykova (b. 1992) ~ young poet with one poem in Words Without Borders (translated by Irina Ivanova)
Some contemporary poets featured at the Poetry Translation Centre (PTC):
Chen Yuhong ~ female poet based in Taipei; author of several collections of poems.
Yao Feng (姚风) ~ Beijing-born poet who is currently a professor of Portuguese literature at the University of Macau.
Yu Yoyo (b. 1990) ~ She has two collections published in China Seven Years (2012) and Me as Bait (2018). Her first collection in English My Tenantless Body with translations by Dave Haysom and A. K. Blakemore was published by PTC.
Nine poets featured at Asymptote:
Sun Tzu-Ping ~ poet and author, with a poetry collection Sentimentalist 《善遞饅頭》
Chen Li ~ prolific poet, essayist, and translator based in Taiwan, with 14 poetry collections
Hsia Yü ~ comtemporary poet based in Taipei, where she co-edits a journal of avant-garde writing known in English as Poetry Now.
Wong Leung-wo ~ author a number of Chinese poetry collections and twice winner of the Hong Kong Biennial Award for Chinese Literature (poetry and fiction)
Ye Mimi ~ a young Taiwanese poet and award-winning filmmaker
Shakila Azizzada (b. 1964) ~ Kabul-based author of tales, short stories, plays and poems. You can find some of her work online at the PTC
Reza Mohammadi ~ several poems online at the PTC
Partaw Naderi ~ poems online at the PTC
Contra, a.k.a. Margus Konnula ~ a poet and children’s writer, described as ‘Estonia’s Michael Rosen’. His collection of children’s poems Kõik on kõige targemad was published in English translation by Charlotte Geater, Kätlin Kaldmaa and Richard O’Brien (The Emma Press)
Marie Under (1883-1980) ~ considered one of the greatest Estonian poets. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature no fewer than eight times
Maarja Pärtna (b. 1986) ~ one collection of poems in translation by Jayde Will (The Emma Press)
Poems by the following poets appear in the bilingual anthology, Six Estonian Poets, ed. Doris Kareva (rc Publications, 2015):
Hasso Krull (b. 1964)
Jurgen Rooste (b. 1979)
Triin Soomets (b. 1969)
Kauksi Ulle (b. 1962)
Elo Viiding (b. 1974)
Juhan Viiding (1948-1995)
Marie-Célie Agnant (b. 1953) ~ Canada-based Haitian writer of poems, novels and novellas, and children’s books.
Maurice Carême (1899-1978) ~ Belgian francophone poet, best known for his simple writing style and children’s poetry.
Jacques Prévert (1900-1977) ~ French poet and screenwriter. His poems became and remain popular in the French-speaking world, particularly in schools.
Frankétienne (b. 1936) ~ writer, poet, playwright, painter, musician, activist and intellectual. One of Haiti’s leading writers and playwrights who writes in both French and Haitian Creole.
Raymond Queneau (1903-1976) ~ French novelist, poet, critic and co-founder of Oulipo (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle). He was known for his wit and cynical humour.
Ida Faubert (1882-1969) ~ Haitian poet, novelist and militant feminist who lived most of lher life in France.
Michèle Lacrosil (1911-2012) ~ Guadeloupean novelist whose fiction is concerned with racial and class antagonisms in the Caribbean.
Anniben Saraiya (1917–1983) ~ children’s poet
Meera Bai (Mirabai मीराबाई) (1502–1556) ~ the first female Gujarati poet
Heera Ramnarayan Pathak (હીરા રામનારાયણ પાઠક), born Heera Kalyanray Mehta (1916-1995) ~ poet and literary critic.
Kanji Patel (b. 1952) ~ prominent poet-novelist of Gujarat and Adivasi activist. Three poems in Asymptote.
Gopika Jadeja ~ bilingual poet and translator from India working in Gujarati and English. She is working currently working on English translations of poetry from Gujarat, India.
Pratishtha Pandya ~ poet and a translator who works across Gujarati and English. She is also a faculty member at Ahmedabad University.
Mehul Devkala (મેહુલ દેવકલા) ~ poet, editor and social activist from India. On Twitter as @MehulDevkala
Manisha Joshi (b. 1971) ~ poet and journalist. She is an author of three poetry collections including Kandara, Kansara Bazar and Kandmool
Máirtín Ó Direáin (1910-1988) ~ widely held to be one of the foremost Irish language poets of the twentieth century
Seán Ó Ríordáin (1916-1977) ~ ” the most important and most influential Irish-language poet of modern times”
Gabriel Rosenstock (b. 1949) ~ the author/translator of over 160 books, including 13 volumes of poetry and a volume of haiku in Irish and in English
Giovanna Zoboli ~ children’s book writer and poet. She is also co-founder of the publishing house Topipittori, where she is currently editor and art director.
Louise Bennett-Coverley (1919-2006) ~ Jamaican poet, folklorist, writer, and educator. In this BBC video, two girls from St. Richard’s Primary School in Kingston Jamaica, perform Louise Bennett’s Patois poem Cuss Cuss.
Diya Ciwan (b. 1953) ~ Kurdish poet and writer
Kajal Ahmad (b. 1967) ~ poet, writer and journalist.
Nezend Begikhani (b. 1964) ~ exiled contemporary writer, poet and academic based at the University of Bristol. She researches gender based violence and is an active advocate of human rights.
Mahabad Qaradaghi (b. 1966) ~ writer, poet and translator, with many poetry collections. She is currently the adviser of Prime Minister in Women Issues, in the Kurdistan Regional Government in Arbil, Iraqi Kurdistan.
Ieva Flamingo (Samauska) (b. 1969) ~ journalist, poet and author of numerous well received books for children. Her poetry collection for children Skaļā klase is published in English translation by Žanete Vēvere Pasqualini, Sara Smith and Richard O’Brien (The Emma Press)
Juris Kronbergs (b. 1946) ~ acclaimed Latvian-Swedish poet and translator, with more than 12 books of poetry published. His collection Mākoņu grāmata (Liels un mazs, 2010) has been translated into English by Mara Rozitis and Richard O’Brien as The Book of Clouds (The Emma Press)
The Stephen Spender Trust has a special Polish Spotlight prize for poetry translation from Polish, where entrants are invited to translate a poem from a curated selection. The poets included this year are:
Liczanki Tadeusz Różewicz
Fernando Pêssoa (1888-1935) ~ Portuguese poet, writer, literary critic, translator, publisher and philosopher, described as one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century and one of the greatest poets in the Portuguese language.
Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen (1919–2004) ~ Portuguese poet and writer, and was the first woman to receive the Camões Prize, in 1999.
Mário de Andrade (1893-1945) ~ Brazilian poet, novelist, musicologist, art historian and critic, and photographer. One of the founders of Brazilian modernism, he virtually created modern Brazilian poetry with the publication of his Paulicéia Desvairada (Hallucinated City) in 1922.
Ana Luísa Amaral (b. 1956) ~ She has written poetry, plays, children’s books, books of essays and a novel.
Ana Cristina Cesar (1952–1983) ~ poet, literary critic and translator from Rio de Janeiro.
Hilda Hilst (1930-2004) ~ Brazilian poet, novelist, and playwright. Lauded as one of the most important Portuguese-language authors of the twentieth century.
Rogério Zola Santiago ~ Brazilian poet, professor and journalist. One poem in Asymptote.
Flávio de Araújo ~ contemporary poet from Paraty, Brazil, who comes from a family of caiçara fishermen. One poem in Asymptote.
Waly Salomão (1943–2003) ~ Syrian-Brazilian poet and lyricist. His fifth book Algaravias: Câmara de Ecos won the 1995 Prêmio Jabuti, Brazil’s highest literary prize. One poem on Asymptote.
Carlito Azevedo (b. 1961) ~ Brazilian poet, translator, and editor. One poem in Asymptote.
Luciany Aparecida ~ Brazilian writer and professor at the State University of Bahia. She focuses both her poetic and academic work on contemporary performance, and often on the experiences of black women in the Northeast of Brazil. One poem in Asymptote.
João Luís Barreto Guimarães (b. 1967) ~ poet and reconstructive surgeon. He is the author of ten poetry books since 1989. His anthology of one hundred collected poems, O Tempo Avança por Sílabas (Time Advances by Syllables), was published in early 2019. One poem in Asymptote.
Alberto Pucheu (b. 1966) ~ author of nine books of poetry, including Para que poetas em tempos de terrorismos? (2017), mais cotidiano que o cotidiano (2013), and Ecometria do silêncio (1999). His poems are published in Asymptote and on his website
Sheila Bhatia (1916-2008) ~ poet, playwright and theatre director, she had 10 publications to her credit including the poetry anthology, Parlo Da Jhakkarh (1950)
Amrita Pritam (1919-2005) ~ Indian novelist, essayist and poet, who wrote in Punjabi and Hindi. Considered the first prominent female Punjabi poet, novelist, essayist and the leading 20th-century poet of the Punjabi language
Nina Cassian (1924-2014) ~ Romanian poet, translator, journalist, accomplished pianist and composer, and film critic.
Doina Ioanid (b. 1968) ~ poet who has published six volumes of verse to date, consisting without exception of prose poems
Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889)
The following poets all wrote poetry for children and younger readers:
Yunna Morits (b. 1937) ~ Soviet and Russian poet, poetry translator and activist.
Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) ~ Russian poet, playwright, and novelist of the Romantic era who is considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. He wrote several fairytales in verse for children, including Сказка о царе Салтане (The Tale of Tsar Saltan), Сказка о золотом петушке (The Golden Cockerel) and Руслан и Людмила (Ruslan and Ludmila).
Lots of poets and poems online at the Scots Language Centre.
Robert Burns ~ excellent resource on the poem, Tam O’Shanter
John Peterson ~ excellent resource on the poem, Shetlan
Federico García Lorca
Jorge Luis Borges
Aurora de Albornoz
Clara Janés Nadal
Karmelo C. Iribarren
Angela Hernández Nuñez
Sonia Manzano Vela
Kithaka wa Mberia
Lamberto E. Antonio
Al Q. Perez – 1967 poem ANG KAIBIGANG TUNAY is online here
Clodualdo del Mundo
Avaiyyar ~ one poem translated in Asymptote
Allur Nanmullayar ~ one poem translated in Asymptote
Kapilar ~ one poem translated in Asymptote
Latha ~ she has published two collections of poetry in Tamil and has one poem in translation on the PTC website.
Perumpatamanar ~ one poem translated in Asymptote
Sugan ~ a Sri Lankan Tamil poet and writer living in Paris. One poem in translation on the PTC website.
Vaayilantevanar ~ one poem translated in Asymptote
Bejan Matur ~ “the most illustrious poet among a bold new women’s poetry emerging from the Middle East“. Several poems in translation at the PTC. She has several poetry collections, of which Rüzgar Dolu Konaklar (translated as Winds Howl Through the Mansions, 1996), won several literary prizes.
Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar ~ considered one of the most important representatives of modernism in Turkish literature.
Four Urdu poets featured at the PTC:
Gillian Clarke ~ she became the third National Poet of Wales in 2008
Ifor ap Glyn ~ the current National Poet of Wales
Llŷr Gwyn Lewis ~ his poetry collection, Storm ar Wyneb Haul (Storm on the Face of the Sun) was shortlisted for the 2015 Wales Book of the Year award
Taiwo Olunlade ~ one poem in translation at the PTC
Túbọ̀sún Ọládàpọ̀ ~ author of many volumes of Yorùbá poetry some published as books, and many recorded as poetry albums, accompanied by songs and dance. One poem in translation at the PTC
The closing date for the Stephen Spender Prize for Poetry in Translation is 17 July 2020.