Books & Review
Updated: Dec 18, 2015 10:41 PM EST

Poet and translator Allen Prowle is renouncing his victory in the recent Stephen Spender Prize after being accused of plagiarizing his winning "superb" translation of "Johnson Brothers Ltd" by Dutch poet Rutger Kopland.

Dutch poetry site Nederlandse Poëzie Encyclopedie pointed out that Prowle's poems (all five of his submissions) are simply "blatant plagiarism" lifted from the translations made by James Brockway and Willem Groenewegen that he got off the internet, "slightly adapted them and subsequently submitted them under his own name."

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The Guardian provided a portion of Prowle's submission next to Brockway's original "Johnson Brothers Ltd" translation.  Here is how the former's supposed own translation reads:

"In his diary I see / appointments made with people unknown, calendars / with gas pipeline labyrinths on his wall, / on the mantelpiece the picture / of a woman in Paris, his woman, the unfathomable / world of a man."  

As readers would easily notice, the writing and the string of words are closely indistinguishable from the work of Brockway, who wrote:

"In his diary I see / appointments with persons unknown, on his wall / calendars with gas-pipe labyrinths, / on the mantelpiece the portrait of a woman / in Paris, his woman, the incomprehensible / world of a man."

Renowned poet Bart FM Droog believes that Prowle is not very fluent with Dutch, used the aforementioned translators' work as a template and ended up with an almost identical piece. Prowle claiming the poem translation as his own is plagiarism, as per Droog.

When the news broke out about the alleged plagiarism, Prowle gave the prize money he received back to Stephen Spender Trust. It is important to note that, back in 2007, Prowle also snagged the Stephen Spender prize for his work on the translations of poems by Attilio Bertolucci.

"All I can say is that Allen Prowle has withdrawn his entries and returned the prize money," Stephen Spender Prize director Robina Pelham Burn stated via The Bookseller, not confirming the accusations.

"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,'" she added.

Following Prowle's decision to withdraw his win, the organizers of the accolade chose not to give out an award for the Open category. 


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