Translation Challenge 2020

Wales Literature Exchange, Wales PEN Cymru and Literature Across Frontiers, in collaboration with Swansea University, Cymdeithas Cyfieithwyr Cymru, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Poetry Wales, Goethe-Institut and O’r Pedwar Gwynt literary magazine are pleased to announce two translation competitions: Her Gyfieithu and the Translation Challenge.

The Translation Challenge and Her Gyfieithu were established in 2009 in order to promote and celebrate the crucial contribution that translators make to enabling literature to travel across frontiers. Through the work of literary translators, authors and poets can reach new audiences as well as internationalise their careers. The prizes are also a recognition of literary translation as one of the creative arts and they aim to encourage new and emerging literary translators.

This year, the poem to translate for both competitions is a series of short poems titled ‘Nahaufnahmen’ by contemporary poet of Turkish descent who writes in German, Zafer Şenocak.

Click here to see the poems

Closing date: 22 May 2020

Adjudicator: Karen Leeder

Prize: £200

An award ceremony for both competitions will be held in the Senedd with the winning translators in September. The winning translation will be published on Poetry Wales website.


How to compete?

  • There is a £6 entry fee, which can be paid via the link below. No application will be considered until payment is received. Please note that Wales PEN Cymru members do not have to pay a fee to enter.
  • Send your translation and application form to walespencymru@gmail.com by midnight 22 May 2020.
  • Enter your name and contact details in the application form, but a pseudonym in the appendix containing your translation.
  • Competitors may submit more than one entry and must include a fee for each.
  • Competitors may use any resource they wish to assist them in the challenge, and group work is also accepted. There is however only one prize.


Talu’r ffi gystadlu (£6)


Information about the poet, Zafer Şenocak

Born 1961 in Ankara/Turkey, Zafer Şenocak has been living in Germany since 1970, currently in Berlin, where he has become a leading voice in the German discussions on multiculturalism, national and cultural identity, and a mediator between Turkish and German cultures.

Şenocak studied Germanic Studies, Political Science, and Philosophy in Munich. A widely published poet, essayist, novelist, journalist and editor, he has won several prestigious literary awards in Germany. He also writes for newspapers including: Tageszeitung and Die Welt. Şenocak was Max-Kade Distinguished Visiting Professor at M.I.T. 1997, writer in residence in several universities and colleges, among others, Dartmouth College 1999, Oberlin College 2000,  University of Wales, Swansea 2000, UC Berkeley 2003.

His essay “Atlas of a tropical Germany” was published by Nebraska University Press in 2000, translated by Prof. Leslie A. Adelson, from Cornell University. His novel Perilous Kinship was published in Great Britain, translated by Tom Cheesman. His poetry, Door Languages, came out 2008, translated by Elizabeth Oehlkers-Wright, Zephyr Press, Boston, USA. His novels, some of them written in German others in Turkish, have been published in Germany, France, Spain, Turkey, Italy and United Kingdom.


Information about the adjudicator, Karen Leeder

Karen Leeder is a writer, translator and academic, and teaches German at New College, Oxford where she works especially on modern poetry, GDR literature and ghosts, and runs the project Mediating Modern Poetry. She also translates contemporary German literature into English. Her most recent translations include Michael Krüger’s The God behind the Window and Raoul Schrott, The Sex of the Angel (both 2019), and Evelyn Schlag’s All Under
one Roof (Carcanet) which was the PBS summer translation selection (2018). She was awarded an English PEN award and an American PEN/Heim award for her translations from Ulrike Almut Sandig’s Thick of it which appeared with Seagull in 2018 and was runner up in the Schlegel-Tieck Prize 2019. Her translations of Durs Grünbein stretch back over a decade and were awarded the Stephen Spender Prize (2011) and the John Frederick Nims Memorial Prize (2018).