The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award is the biggest poetry competition in the world for 11–17 year olds. Organised by the Poetry Society, and this year judged by First Story favourites Jackie Kay and Raymond Antrobus, we are thrilled to see First Story students among the 2019 commended poets.
First Story Writer-in-Residence Caleb Parkin was at the awards ceremony, at the Southbank Centre in London, to celebrate the achievement of one of his former students, Callum Roberts, from John Cabot Academy in Bristol. Callum took part in our intensive creative-writing programme during the 2018–19 academic year. He entered his poem Gender vs Meaning for the award, which we recently published in the First Story anthology, The List Might Never End.
The First Story group at JCA met over 16 sessions, to write and develop pieces of writing – mainly poetry – which then became the anthology, The List Might Never End. Callum’s piece of writing emerged from a session we did about LGBT History Month … For me, what’s so delightful about it being long-listed for such a prestigious award is that it’s a brief, direct and honest poem about something important, spoken in Callum’s own voice. And there’s something very important there for all young writers: what you say has value, your ideas have value, and the way you express those has its own enormous value, too. So keep at it – and be yourself in your writing!– Caleb Parkin, First Story Writer-in-Residence
Also on the list of this year’s commended poets is Aziza Adam, another First Story student who took part in our intensive programme during 2018–19. Aziza’s writing features in Ode to the Fifteenth Hour, an anthology by the First Story Group at Wembley High Technical College, edited by Stephanie Cross. (One of Aziza’s poems actually gave the anthology its title!) Aziza’s talent for creative writing secured her a place at this year’s First Story summer residential and she has since applied for a Rathbone’s Folio Prize mentorship, the winners of which will be announced soon.
Over 6,000 young people entered The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award this year, from 76 countries including Vietnam, Mexico and Japan. The Poetry Society will publish the top 15 poems in print later this year, and the commended poems in an online anthology expected in March 2020, which is when the competition re-opens. Find out more via the Poetry Society.