The Sarah Maguire Prize
The 2024 Sarah Maguire Prize
Submissions are now closed for the 2024 Sarah Maguire Prize.
The Sarah Maguire Prize for Poetry in Translation is an international biennial award for the best book of poetry in English translation by a living poet from beyond Europe. The winning poet and their translator, or translators, will split an award of £3000 between them. A shortlist of up to seven titles will be included in a Poetry Book Society and retail partner promotion.
The prize has been established in the memory of the poet Sarah Maguire who was the founder of the Poetry Translation Centre and a champion of international poetry. The aim of the prize is to showcase the very best contemporary poetry from around the world and to champion the art of poetry translation.
The judges of the 2024 Prize are Ian McMillan, English poet and presenter on The Verb on BBC Radio 3, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Irish poet, academic, and translator, and Ghareeb Iskander, a prizewinning Iraqi poet and translator. Read more about the judges.
Last year’s winner was Exhausted on the Cross by the Palestinian poet Najwan Darwish, translated from Arabic by Kareem James Abu-Zeid, published by New York Review Books. 2020’s winner was Anniversary Snow by Yang Lian, translated from the Chinese by Brian Holton, with further translations by WN Herbert, L. Leigh, Lian Lizhen, Pascale Petit, Fiona Simpson, George Szirtes and Joshua Weiner and was published by Shearsman Books. The first prizewinner was featured on BBC Front Row.
'I'm honoured to be a judge of the Sarah Maguire Prize, proudly keeping her name alive and giving a space to those who, like she did, wrestle with language and meaning every day of their lives.'
The 2024 Judges
Chair of the Judges
Ian McMillan is a writer and broadcaster based in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. He’s produced books of poetry for children and adults as well as a couple of volumes of memoir. He’s presented The Verb, Radio 3’s weekly language and literature show, for over twenty years and he’s always really excited to encounter new writing by new writers. He’s currently translating the opera The Barber of Seville into Yorkshire dialect, which makes him very happy!
Ghareeb Iskander is a poet, translator and scholar living in London. He taught Arabic at SOAS, University of London where he received his PhD in Near & Middle Eastern studies with an emphasis on literary translation. He published serval books including A Chariot of Illusion (Exiled Writers Ink, London 2009); Gilgamesh’s Snake and Other Poems, a bilingual collection, which won Arkansas University’s Arabic Translation Award for 2015 (Syracuse University Press, New York 2016); English Poetry and Modern Arabic Verse: Translation and Modernity (I. B. Tauris, London 2021). He was longlisted for the 2021 John Dryden Translation Competition. Iskander translated Derek Walcott, Ted Hughes and other world modernist poets into Arabic and Abdul Wahab al-Bayati, Hasab al-Shaikh Ja‘far and other Arab modernist poets into English.
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
Born 1942, Fellow emeritus of Trinity College Dublin. Her many translations of poetry include Dánta Antonella Anedda [translations from Italian into Irish] The Water Horse with Medbh McGuckian, from the Irish of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Gallery Press (2000), 21 poems by Nuala Ní Dhomnaill, in Leabhar na hAthgabhála ed. Louis de Paor, Cló Iar-Chonachta (2016), ‘Song of the Woman of Beare’ in Maurice Riordan ed. The Finest Music: An Anthology of Early Irish Lyrics, London, Faber (2014), After the Raising of Lazarus, (2005), and the Legend of the walled-up wife, Gallery Press (2011), both from the Romanian of Ileana Mălăncioiu. Her Collected Poems was published by Gallery Press in 2020.
The 2022 Winner
Exhausted on the Cross by the Palestinian poet Najwan Darwish and translated from Arabic by Kareem James Abu-Zeid has won the 2022 Sarah Maguire Prize for Poetry in Translation.
Darwish and Abu-Zeid share prize money of £3,000. The winning title was chosen from a shortlist of six books which also included poets from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Korea, Mauritius, Mexico and Syria. The winning book was published by New York Review Books.
Rosalind Harvey, Chair of Judges, says of Exhausted on the Cross:
‘In its direct, stripped-back lines, the collection demonstrates both the limits and the necessity of language, inviting us to ask, together, how we can move through and beyond suffering.’
Kareem James Abu-Zeid says:
"Winning the Sarah Maguire Prize is a huge honor, even more so because Sarah Maguire herself was such a champion of international poetry in translation. So I'm particularly grateful to receive this prize that bears her name. Najwan and I both poured an immense amount of time and creative energy into Exhausted on the Cross, as did the whole team at NYRB Poets, and it is very rewarding to be recognized for our work by such an esteemed panel of judges."
The 2022 Shortlist
Come, Take a Gentle Stab by Salim Barakat
Translated from Arabic by Huda J. Fakhreddine and Jayson Iwen
Published by Seagull Books
Exhausted on the Cross by Najwan Darwish
Translated from Arabic by Kareem James Abu-Zeid
Published by New York Review Books
Migrations: Poem, 1976–2020 by Gloria Gervitz
Translated from Spanish by Mark Schafer
Published by New York Review Books
Unexpected Vanilla by Lee Hyemi
Translated from Korean by Soje
Published by Tilted Axis Books
The River in the Belly by Fiston Mwanza Mujila
Translated from French by J. Bret Maney
Published by Deep Vellum
Cargo Hold of Stars: Coolitude by Khal Torabully
Translated from French by Nancy Naomi Carlson
Published by Seagull Books
The 2020 Winner
The winner of the inaugural Sarah Maguire Prize for Poetry In Translation was Anniversary Snow by Yang Lian, translated from Chinese by Brian Holton with further translations by WN Herbert, L. Leigh, Liang Lizhen, Pascale Petit, Fiona Sampson, George Szirtes and Joshua Weiner and published by Shearsman Books.
The winner was announced at an online event hosted by the Poetry Translation Centre on Thursday, 25th March 2021. The winning poet, Yang Lian, and his translators shared a prize of £3000.
The shortlist featured books translated from Japanese, Arabic, Korean, Spanish and Chinese. The selection celebrated both the best of modern poetry from across the globe and showcased a range of different translation methodologies highlighting excellence in literary translation.
The 2020 Sarah Maguire Prize judging panel was chaired by Alireza Abiz is an Iranian poet, literary critic and translator. He was joined on the judging team by Leo Boix Latino British poet, translator and journalist and Ida Hadjivayanis, a translator originally from Zanzibar. In choosing their shortlist the judges looked for books that spoke to UK audiences, but which maintained the unique spark of their original texts.
About Sarah Maguire
Sarah Maguire (1957-2017) was the founder of the Poetry Translation Centre and a champion of international poetry.
During a varied career, Sarah worked as a gardener, in prisons, as a Royal Literary Fund fellow at SOAS University of London, and presenting cultural discussions for the BBC. She was a prominent voice within contemporary poetry; publishing several collections including: Spilt Milk (1991), The Invisible Mender (1997), The Florist’s at Midnight (2002), The Pomegranates of Kandahar (2007) and a volume of selected poems, Almost the Equinox (2015).
In the mid-1990s, Sarah was approached by the British Council to be the first writer they sent on outreach trips to Palestine (1996) and Yemen (1998). It was on these visits, encountering Arabic poetry that Maguire developed her passion for poetry translation. She said of the experience: ‘When I arrived in Palestine and first encountered Palestinian poets, I became aware that it was in my power to do something important. Working with poets and translators to present translations in English of Palestinian poetry was possible, and there was hope that the influence of these translations would be far-reaching on readers of English.’
Maguire became a passionate advocate for poetry and translation. In 2004 she established the Poetry Translation Centre and remained as it’s director until shortly before her death.
The Sarah Maguire Prize was established with the support of Sarah’s family and friends to celebrate her passion for international poetry and champion the art of translation.
The Sarah Maguire Prize for Poetry in Translation is supported by the Estate of Sarah Maguire, the British Council, the Garrick Charitable Trust, Golsoncott Foundation and the kind donations of the friends and family of Sarah Maguire.
If you would like to support the prize you can make a one-off or regular donation to the prize, or to be notified of Sarah Maguire Prize news and other poetry translation updates you can sign up to our newsletter.