On 15 October 2020, The Poetry Society announced the top 15 winners and 85 commended poets of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2020 at a virtual prize-giving ceremony. A slide show featuring lines by the commended poets was played, before judges Maura Dooley and Keith Jarrett announced the winners. Maura and Keith read the names of all 85 commended poets and offered warm words of congratulations, and the top 15 winners read their winning poems aloud. Finally, the judges read poems of their own, alongside the 2020 patrons of the award, Matt Abbott and Theresa Lola. The ceremony closed with a poem specially written by Keith Jarrett, inspired by and dedicated to the young poets.
Congratulations to the winners! You can read the top 15 poems in the sidebar to the right of this page, or watch them performed by the winners here.
A staggering 15,966 poems (44% more poems than in 2019 and 47% more than in 2018) from 6,791 young poets (up 14% on 2019 and up 22% on 2018) were entered. Young writers from a record-breaking 118 countries (an increase from 76 in 2019, 79 in 2018) entered the competition from as far afield as Afghanistan, Ecuador, Mozambique, North Korea and the Seychelles, and every corner of the UK. From these poems, this year’s judges Keith Jarrett and Maura Dooley selected 100 winners, made up of 15 top poets and 85 commended poets.
Maura commented: “If we had thought for a moment that this long year of Covid, of international unrest, of the tragedies that led renewed attention to Black Lives Matter might make humour impossible, or attention to very personal experience tricky, then how wrong we were. Poems came in from all over the world: poems of astonishing skill, poems of great tenderness, angry poems, poems that made me laugh and sometimes those were even all the same poem. What more could a reader ask?”
Similarly, Keith said: “It’s been a privilege judging this year’s prize. At a time when so many of us have been physically separated from friends and family, I’ve felt connected to thousands of young voices from around the world. The poems have been passionate, political, tender, troubling, humorous and, in many cases, brave.”
The Foyle Young Poets 2020 anthology, You Speak in Constellations, saw the top 15 poems published in print, with an online version below. An online version of the commended poems is also available below.
Top 15 poets
Anna Gilmore Heezen, Anna Winkelmann, Brigitta McKeever, Daniel Wale, Em Power, Imogen Beaumont, Indigo Mudbhary, Lauren Lisk, Leandra Li, Libby Russell, Linnet Drury, Maia Siegel, Preesha Jain, Victoria Fletcher and Zara Meadows.
85 Commended Poets
Aashka Vardhman, Ahana Banerji, Ailsa Morgan, Alyssa Theofanidis, Amala Sangha, Amélie Nixon, Anisha Jaya Minocha, Anne Kwok, April Egan, Arabella Green, Artemis Fernihough, Ayra Ahmad, Celeste Herriotts, Celia Mostachfi, Charlotte Hughes, chenrui, Claudia Quin, Connie Alvarez, Divyasri Krishnan, Elise Withey, Eliza Sinclair Kidd, Elsie Hayward, Elyse Thomas, Emily Man, Emily Ng, Erin Hateley, Eshan Fadi, Euan Sinclair, Eve Calvey, Eve Wright, Evie Collins, Florence Bullion, Francesca Morgan, Freya Leech, Grace Phillips, Hannah Eve Kilgore, Helen Roth, Hope Vaughan, Iona Mandal, Jaewon Chang, Jamie See, Janiru Liyanage, Jeanne Everett Meraioth, Jennah Agha, Jonathan Truong, Kate O’Brien, Kerensa Pickering, Kitty Joyce, Kitty Robinson, Lilly Jane Nolan, Lily Celeste Ashby, Liv Goldreich, Lucy Stone, Lucy Waters, Maddie Harris, Madison Averill, Martha Iris Blue, Martha Routledge, Martine Maugüé, Maureen Onwunali, Merrie LeMaître Nugent, Mukisa Verrall, Olajuwon-Alhaytham Abdullah Adedokun, Oreva Esalomi, Patricia Ssonko Nalule, Phaedra Wright, Phoebe Z. Barowitz, Priya Abularach, Priya Shrivastva, Ran Zhao, Remi Seamon, Sabrina Guo, Saima Begum, Samiya Saif Ullah, Sarah Fathima Mohammed, Serrina Zou, Sinead Bruce, Sinéad O’Reilly, Sung Cho, Theodora Shillito, Tom Griffin, Vidula Selvan, Zayaan Jamil, and Zoe Dorothy Leary.