To Speak England in Different Languages: The Winners

A literary prize for any language but one



The “To Speak England in Different Languages” award went to SJ Kim for “엄마 없는 집에 / Home Without Mom” and S. for “Tougouy Soko – Together – Amma Gina”.

Our panel of multilingual experts and jurors Elena Botchorichvili, Matteo Campagnoli, Xiaolu Guo, Erica Hesketh, André Naffis-Sahely, and Shadi Rohana, selected the winners from entries of any genre in Arabic, Korean, Basque, Finnish, Kernewek, Filipino, Zaghawa, and other 22 languages.

The 2,500 GBP prize was split equally between the winners.

Praise for  “엄마 없는 집에 / Home Without Mom” by SJ Kim
“엄마 없는 집에 – Home Without Mom” is a quiet and powerful diptych, whereby an impressionistic poem written in Korean has been rendered into a narrative prose monologue in English. The two texts are not only “extensions of one another,” as the author writes: through the imagined words of the author’s mother, the English prose offers a late and retrospective glossa, a commentary on the Korean verse, in which the passing of time and the experience of migration speak to things left unsaid between child, mother, and father. “엄마 없는 집에 – Home Without Mom” achieves what the best poems do in all languages: occupying spaces once filled with silence.

SJ Kim was born in Korea and raised in the American South. She is a Lecturer in Creative and Critical Writing at Birkbeck College, University of London.

Praise for “Tougouy Soko – Together – Amma Gina” by S.
S.’ mini-epic poem of deracination, migration, and integration, is a babelesque polyphony composed in five languages, namely English, French, Chadian and Modern Standard Arabic, Zaghawa, and Gourane. Not only is it an elegy for “those who never had the chance to leave,” as the author writes, it is also a testament to the power that being multilingual confers on the powerless, who are often left feeling “hungry for translation of the world’s news”. Continuously translating itself back and forth as it progresses, this poem links languages together like a caravan traversing the human unknown, allowing the author to produce a sharp portrait of a woman in transit in a globalized world.

Originally from Chad, S. now lives in the UK and is studying for her GCSEs. S. hopes to become a doctor one day, and enjoys creative writing in her spare time.

엄마 없는 집에 / Home Without Mom” and “Tougouy Soko – Together – Amma Gina” will be published on Specimen along with the other shortlisted texts: “Anfibia / The Amphibian” by Antonietta Bocci, “Poesia eta phrasal verbs / Poetry and phrasal verbs” by Beatriz Chivite, and “Basag / Broken” by Carla Montemayor.

Stay tuned.


This unique literary prize is for anyone who lives in the UK and lives between languages. Language is unique in that it offers us a way of holding more than one identity, one credo, one country at the same time.

In the year of Brexit, “To Speak England in Different Languages” celebrates the linguistic and cultural mixes and multiplicities that inhabit the UK by inviting those who speak more than one language to make creative use of each language, and of the movements between them.


Specimen. The Babel Review of Translations
Specimen. The Babel Review of Translations is a multilingual web magazine that publishes fiction, non-fiction, frictions, and poetry, and especially their combinations and mixtures, in the original language and in an ever-growing number of translations into other languages and alphabets.
Enjoying the ebb and flow of different alphabets, Specimen aims to bring the typographical care of the written page to the internet and to respect the slower pace that this care requires.
The magazine employs the outreach of the worldwide web to contrast blanket globalization, explore the world’s diversities, and nurture the continuous exchanges between languages, places, and voices.
The first edition of the “To Speak” Prize was launched in 2020: called “To Speak Europe in Different Languages”, it was created by Specimen in collaboration with Sulaiman Addonia, Asmara-Addis Literary Festival (In Exile), and the European Cultural Foundation.

In collaboration with:
English PEN
Poetry Translation Centre
Poetry London
Babel Festival

With the communication support of:
EUNIC London
FILL Festival
Migrant Voice
Migration Museum

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Supported using public funding
by the National Lottery through Arts Council England

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