Stephen Spender winner withdraws entry, returns prize money

Stephen Spender winner withdraws entry, returns prize money

The winner of the 2015 Stephen Spender Prize for poetry in translation, Allen Prowle, has withdrawn his entries and returned the prize money, amid claims of "blatant plagiarism".

Prize director Robina Pelham Burn did not comment directly on the claims, made in the Dutch Poetry Encyclopedia's online newsblog, but said: "All I can say is that Allen Prowle has withdrawn his entries and returned the prize money. You will see that the conditions of entry [for the prize] stipulate at item six that 'each translation must be the original work of the entrant and not a copy or substantial copy of someone else's translation; it must not have been previously published or broadcast'."

Prowle was awarded the prize in November for "Johnson Brothers Ltd", a translation of a poem by Dutch poet Rutger Kopland. Another Kopland poem translation submitted by Prowle was commended.

According to the Nederlandse Poëzie Encyclopedie newsblog, "International research by poetry translators and specialists in plagiarism from the UK, Netherlands and Denmark shows that in actual fact these aren’t superb translations at all, but blatant plagiarism. Allen Prowle, the lauded ‘translator’ simply lifted five translations wrought by the late James Brockway and the living Willem Groenewegen from the internet, slightly adapted them and subsequently submitted them under his own name."

A statement on the Stephen Spender Trust website says that, following Prowle's withdrawal, no first prize is being awarded in the Prize's Open category this year.

The Stephen Spender Prize is awarded in association with the Guardian, and this year's judges were Josephine Balmer, Katie Gramich, W N Herbert and Stephen Romer.

Prowle, who was awarded the same prize in 2007, could not be contacted for comment.

Picture: Amarjit Chandan.