Arlo Parks and Ben Bailey Smith

The patrons for the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2021 are Arlo Parks and Ben Bailey Smith.

Ben Bailey Smith. Photo by Kenneth Lam
Arlo Parks. Photo by Alex Waespi







Arlo is a musician and poet, whose debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams reached number three on the UK albums chart. In May 2021 she won the Brit Award for Breakthrough Artist. Ben is a writer, actor, comedian and musician who began his career in rap, and has since gone on to star in Law and Order, The Inbetweeners, Miranda, Brief Encounters and more. He has a huge following among children, having written for CBBC, while his children’s books, I am Bear and Bear Moves, have been critically acclaimed.

When The Poetry Society invited them to be patrons, Arlo said: “It’s an honour to be a Patron for the Foyle Young Poets Award this year. Poetry for me was always a safe space with no rules where I could trust my intuition and describe the world through my singular lens. It’s often seen as an art form that is inaccessible or opaque and that’s why I’m so excited to be a part of these awards. These awards are an opportunity to bring young people to poetry, allowing them to flex their creative muscles and be completely themselves.”

Similarly, for Ben, being a patron has given him the opportunity to reflect on his own creative journey, which began with poetry: “The first book of poetry I remember loving was Brian Patten’s Gargling with Jelly. I was about seven years old and I carried this slim volume packed with laugh out loud silly rhymes everywhere, to the point that pages started to fall out. I wasn’t even upset because by that time I knew the poems off by heart anyway. It’s only now that I look back and think that was maybe the first time I grasped the understanding that words – simply organised in a funny, memorable way – could have profound power, could bring profound joy. Poetry has stayed with me ever since and now I write my own poems for children, not even for work but for fun! To be a patron of the Young People’s Poetry Award is a true honour, and to help kids find inspiration and confidence in their own writing ability brings me huge satisfaction.”

Check out The Poetry Society’s Instagram account (@thepoetrysociety) for more content from Arlo and Ben, and enter the competition at The deadline is 31 July 2021. In Arlo’s own words, “I can’t wait to read what you write, good luck and remember that poetry is for everyone.”