Trailblazing inspiration from English teacher Francesca Pridham sees six students at Winstanley College win an international poetry prize
The Poetry Society is delighted to announce that six students at Winstanley College have won the prestigious Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award.
Organised by The Poetry Society and generously supported by The Foyle Foundation, the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award has been held annually since 1998. It is one of the largest literary competitions in the world and is a defining award for young poets around the world.
This year’s competition attracted over 11,000 poems from more than 6,000 poets from across the UK and around the world. Writers from 89 different countries entered the competition, from as far afield as Azerbaijan, Myanmar, Syria and Zimbabwe.
From the thousands of poems entered, this year’s judges Kayo Chingonyi and Sinéad Morrissey selected 100 winners.
Kayo and Judith Palmer, Director of The Poetry Society, were delighted to present the awards at the College on Friday 24th November to:
- Elizabeth Cook, age 17
- Jade Wilkinson, age 17
- India Alldred, age 17
- Kyle Spencer, age 17
- Bailey Blackburn, age 17
- Bianka Barabas, age 17
A special Teacher Trailblazers award was given to the students’ teacher, Francesca Pridham, for showing exceptional dedication to the teaching of poetry at Winstanley College. The Poetry Society select just two teachers each year for the award, which acknowledges those teachers who have been creative and inspirational in bringing poetry to life in the classroom.
Elizabeth Gibson, a former student of Winstanley College, attended the awards ceremony. Elizabeth is a huge poetry success story for the College; Elizabeth was awarded The Poetry Society’s Timothy Corsellis Prize in 2016 and her poetry and fiction has been published in a number of journals, including The Poetry Shed, London Journal of Fiction and Antiphon.
Judge, Kayo Chingonyi, praised the winners:
“I was particularly struck by the number of poems that reflected on the complexities of living at this particular moment in time rather than taking their cue from poems and contexts of the past.”
Lines from some of the poems pop into my head every now and again. Right now it’s ‘with a self-importance wholly uncommon to birds’, which is a wonderfully judged line.”
Sinéad Morrissey spoke of the surprises within the entries:
“The best of the entries were incredibly impressive. There was great maturity of approach here and confidence of address, particularly in dealing with difficult subjects.
What surprised me was the amount of entries that were exuberant. There were many poems which constituted tender addresses to mothers, and these were moving in their straightforward expression of love and gratitude. More widely, fathers and siblings featured too, and I especially loved the tender expressions of home life and cultural difference expressed, often, through food and its preparation, which were so celebratory.
I was surprised too, by the assurance of tone – these young poets have something to say and know exactly how they wanted to say it. Enviable skills for any writer.”
Louise Tipping, Principal, Winstanley College commented:
“We are both humbled and incredibly proud to have in our college no fewer than SIX students capable of writing poetry so good they were commended in The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2017. We are really proud of our poets and so grateful to the Poetry Society for recognising their exceptional talent.
“We are delighted and proud also that Fran Pridham, a teacher who has shown exceptional dedication to the teaching of poetry, has been recognised as a Teacher Trailblazer. For over twenty years she has helped develop best practice for working with poetry at Winstanley College and has been brilliant in thinking of creative ways to bring poetry to life in the classroom.”
The winners will have their poems appear in an online anthology available to schools, libraries, reading groups and poetry lovers across the UK and the world. They also receive a year’s youth membership of The Poetry Society and a goody bag of books. The Poetry Society continues to support winners throughout their careers providing publication, performance and development opportunities.
Since it began, The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award has kick-started the careers of some of the most exciting poetic voices, including T.S. Eliot Prize Winner Sarah Howe and 2017 Man Booker International Prize judge and Next Generation Poet Helen Mort; and Imogen Cassels, Theophilus Kwek and Phoebe Stuckes winners of the 2015/16 Poetry Business New Poets Prize. Being selected as a Foyle Young Poet is often a life-changing moment for young writers, and for many the point at which they begin to consider themselves poets. It builds a community of young writers who continue to support each other throughout their careers.
The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2017 has been generously supported by The Foyle Foundation.