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News > Arnold Foundation News > Arnold Foundation Student, Mariya Chechel (B), commended in this year’s Stephen Spender Prize

Arnold Foundation Student, Mariya Chechel (B), commended in this year’s Stephen Spender Prize

Arnold Foundation Student, Mariya Chechel (B), has been highly commended in this year's Stephen Spender Prize for her poetry translation.

Mariya beautifully translated the poem 'Story for return' in memory of Ukrainian poet Viktoria Amelina.

Mariya comments that 'Victoria Amelina is one of the greatest Ukrainian poets that I personally feel connected to. I’m deeply impressed by how empathetic Victoria is, though she lived in Canada or the Western part of Ukraine for her life. She was always trying to support the Eastern Ukraine and volunteered a lot. Being from the East myself and reading this poem made me burst into tears as I realized that not only Eastern but all Ukrainians have to go through the same path. It was hard to keep the atmosphere in the translation the same as the original, so there were some difficulties.'

Alix Scott-Martin, Mariya's English teacher, commented 'BEAUTIFULLY read, Mariya. Very Well done. We're incredibly proud of you.'

Maria's translation can be read below:


Story for Return

When Mira was leaving the house, she took a bead from a tiny box

When Tim was leaving the city, he picked up a stone from a street

When Yarka was abandoning the garden, she took an orange seed

When Vira was leaving her house – nothing she took

I’ll come back soon, she said

and took absolutely nothing


Mira raised a jewellery box from a bead

Raising her new House in this tiny box

Tim founded a new city from stone

City is looking familiar,

Despite there’s no sea

Yarka has planted a seed of orange

A garden around a seed became Yarka’s


And Vira

who’s taken nothing

Is telling this story


When leaving the House,

she’s telling

House behind gets smaller

to save itself

The House is turning

into a grey pebble

a bead

a seed from a last year’s orange tree

a piece of glass that hurts in a palm all the way

a piece of Lego

a shell from Crimea

a sunflower’s seed

a button from father’s fatigues


Then House can fit in the pocket

and there it sleeps


Take out the House from pocket

in a safer place

When ready


The House will grow by bit

And you will never

remember, never

be without your House


And what have you taken with you?


I took only this story

about return

Here, I brought it to light

It expands


Translated by Mariya Chechel
in the memory of Victoria Amelina

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