Between 2014 and 2019, The Poetry Society ran an annual prize for young people, 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 up to 25, introduced ten WWII poets, setting them in the historical context of war poetry, and asked for a poem or poems in response.
The Timothy Corsellis Prize asked young poets to respond to the life and/or work of a small selection of Second World War poets, including Keith Douglas, Sidney Keyes, Alun Lewis, John Jarmain, Henry Reed, Anna Akhmatova, Gertrud Kolmar, Günter Eich, Miklós Radnóti and Timothy Corsellis.
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, as well a piece about Corsellis and transition, and you can see actor Tim Bentinck reading Timothy’s poems ‘Engine Failure’ and ‘Dawn After the Raid’ on YouTube.