National Recognition for Christ’s Hospital translator

JPCT 061112 Christs Hospital pupils Francis Scarr 17 left and Max Birkin 12 in national poetry in translation competition. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 061112 Christs Hospital pupils Francis Scarr 17 left and Max Birkin 12 in national poetry in translation competition. Photo by Derek Martin
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Francis Scarr, a Grecian, aged 17, has won a national award for poetry in translation.

The Times Stephen Spender Award judges awarded Francis, a year 13 pupil, joint first place in the under 18 competition for his imaginative rendering of an obscure Goethe poem, ‘The Destruction of Magdeburg’.

Francis, who hopes to study Modern languages at Cambridge University, took a creative approach to the task, turning a rather dry ballad into an excitingly modern poem by using different voices and strategies.

At the same time he preserved the historical truth of its account of a battle that is less than well-known nowadays.

Francis said “There isn’t much scope for studying German literature in the A Level Modern Languages syllabus and as I aim to study German and Russian at university, this competition provided a good opportunity. My English teacher at CH encouraged me to enter and I am delighted to be one of the winners”.

The Stephen Spender Prize is the foremost national competition for poetry in translation and Francis’s achievement brings with it a substantial cash prize, publication in The Times online with results announced in The Times print edition on Saturday November 3.

Year seven pupil Max Birkin, aged 12, was also successful in the under 14 competition, gaining a ‘highly commended ‘ award from the judges.

Max, whose translation was from Dutch to English said “I was really surprised and pleased, I didn’t expect this award”.

Francis’s translation will be published in a special booklet available from the Stephen Spender Trust. Visit www.stephen-spender.org

Pictured here are Christ’s Hospital pupils Francis Scarr and Max Birkin. Picture by Derek Martin. Picture ref D12455226a, D12455219a