National poetry competition triumph

Christ’s Hospital Year 12 pupil, Beatrix Crinnion has won this year’s Stephen Spender Competition.

Swedish, Japanese and Modern Greek are languages not currently taught on the syllabus at Christ’s Hospital but that did not stop CH pupils taking awards for their skills in translating poetry from these languages.

In the annual Stephen Spender Award for Poetry Translation no fewer than three Christ’s Hospital pupils took prizes in the 18s and under category.

In a contest participated in by pupils from some of the top schools in the country. Beatrix, who had begun to teach herself Swedish, ‘just for fun’ took joint first prize for her translation of ‘Allegro’ by Tomas Tranströmer.

Alexandra Seizani-Dimitriadi who was just 15 when she entered the competition was commended for her extraordinary rendition of a section of a long poem by the Greek Nobel laureate Odysseus Elytis, while Year 13 pupil Euan McGinty received a similar accolade for his beautifully restrained version of a Japanese poem by Kenji Miyazawa.

Head of English at Christ’s Hospital, Stephen Walsh commented: “This is an extraordinary success for our pupils. To take three from the five top awards in this prestigious national competition, from an entry of nearly two hundred, tells us that Christ’s Hospital is a national leader in this very high-end skill.

“The fact that Alex and Beatrix were in Year 10 and Year 11 respectively when the entered the competition makes this even more remarkable as they will have been up against Oxbridge undergraduates as well as high-flying pupils from across the country.”

The Stephen Spender Trust was established in 1997 to honour Stephen Spender’s achievements as poet and translator of poetry and aims to widen appreciation of his literary legacy as well as promoting literary translation.

Allegro

After a dark day,

I sit down to play Haydn

and the simple heat of my hands warms the gloom away.

The keys are ready. The gentle hammers beat.

The melody is green, vibrant, serene.

The melody says that freedom exists

and that there is one who doesn’t render unto Caesar.

I shuffle along, hands in my Haydnpockets.

Nonchalant.

I hoist my Haydnflag to declare our message:

“We do not back down. But we strive for peace.”

The music is a house of glass on the hillside.

There stones fly and there stones roll.

Roll straight through.

But each pane remains

Unbroken.

Report and picture contributed by Christ’s Hospital.