The Poetry Society launched a new annual prize for young people in 2014, encouraging them to consider the legacy of the WWI poets and their impact on the soldier-poets of WWII.
The Timothy Corsellis Prize, for poets aged 14-25, introduces seven WWII poets, setting them in the historical context of war poetry, and then asks for a poem in response.
Since 2015, we also run the Corsellis Young Critics Prize, for short essays of 500-1,500 words exploring which three poets (Keith Douglas, Sidney Keyes, Alun Lewis, John Jarmain, Henry Reed, Anna Akhmatova or Timothy Corsellis) are most likely to be read in twenty years’ time, and why.
Timothy Corsellis was the young poet who inspired this Prize. His poems explore the experience of the Blitz and the combined boredom and exhilaration of flight training. Originally a conscientious objector, Timothy volunteered for the RAF in 1940. However, horrified to be put under Bomber Command, which would involve the bombing of civilians, he requested a transfer, and spent six months as an Air Raid Precautions Officer, helping civilians through the Blitz. He then joined the Air Transport Auxiliary service, where he was killed in 1941, aged 20, when the aeroplane he was flying crashed over Carlisle. We have a fascinating biography of Timothy on Young Poets Network if you’d like to find out more, and you can see actor Tim Bentinck reading Timothy’s poems ‘Engine Failure’ and ‘Dawn After the Raid’ on Youtube.