Judge’s blog: Raymond Antrobus

Prize-winning poet Raymond Antrobus is judging this year’s Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award. Raymond says Foyle is a chance for the world to discover a new talent and for the poet to discover a new and exciting world.

Raymond Antrobus smiles, crossed arms
Raymond Antrobus. Photo credit: Tenee Attoh.

For this year’s Foyle competition I’m looking for poems that sing, move and inspire. Something that shows the world as I’ve yet to see, feel or hear it.

It takes a certain amount of confidence to enter a competition, so show that confidence in your writing. Be open. Be bold. Show us something that ONLY YOU could have written.

It’s not easy to improve.  It took four years of consistent competing before I won my first slam. Don’t give up on your first try. I had to learn to accept my losses before I could be a worthy winner. But it’s not just the winning that matters it’s who you meet along the way that really helps with your writing and the determination to keep going. Coming up through slam and open mics meant I had a creative community and a shared language to encourage and inspire me. My friends and family weren’t particularly encouraging about me wanting to be a poet in my early years. I needed to meet other poets I respected and admired as writers and people – they kept pushing me to get better. I still feel this is true today.  Whether you’re entering page competitions or slam poetry contests writing poetry can give you a community that does wonders for your self-esteem. With this, you can hone your identity as a poet, writer, performer and listener. 

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2019 is now closed. Next year’s competition will launch in spring 2020. All entrants will be contacted in mid-September with the results, and the winners will be publicly announced on 2 October 2019. Good luck to everyone who entered and a big well done! To stay up-to-date with everything that The Poetry Society offers young writers, sign up to the Young Poets Network mailing list, and visit Young Poets Network for year-round poetry competitions, events and advice.