Carol Ann Duffy challenge winners announced

Carol Ann Duffy speaking at a podium
Photo: Hayley Madden for The Poetry Society

We are delighted to announce the winners of the Carol Ann Duffy challenge on Young Poets Network. The challenge was co-written and judged by Duffy expert Dr Mari Hughes-Edwards, who asked poets aged 5-25 from across the globe to respond to the works of Carol Ann Duffy, celebrating her legacy as Poet Laureate. We received astounding poems from hundreds of young writers from up and down the UK and as far afield as Singapore, India, Hungary, US and Canada.

Congratulations to the winners!

First prize goes to Ellora Sutton for her mythological poemDaphne. Dr Mari Hughes-Edwards commented that this poem ‘has got everything’, reflecting Duffy’s The World’s Wife in its voicing of a woman from classical mythology as well as more recent Laureateship verse. She says, ‘The final lines are just brilliant.’

Second prize is awarded to Lauren Aspery for her poem ‘One for Sorrow’, which plays on bad-luck charms. Mari said this is ‘the perfect recreation and re-envisioning of Duffy’s first four collections encapsulated in one poem’ and praises the ‘flashes of dark humour’ and the ‘truly beautiful’ ‘in your face’ question at the close of the poem.

Third prize goes to Jack Cooper for his poem ‘A private man, public spaces’. Mari commented, ‘this poem respects her connection with men, their lives and their work in its naming of masculine fragilities’, and praised its references to The Anvil and some of Duffy’s influences.

Six poems were commended:

‘Love is a Hairy Moth’ by Hebe Fryer

‘Mrs Mendeleev’ by Emily Boyle

‘Pearl River’ by Dan Fitt-Palmer

‘Lady’ by Em Power

‘the passing’ by Georgie West

‘Ormulu at the Mad House’ by Anna Thomas

Huge congratulations to all the poets! You can read their poems and Mari’s comments by following the links, and read the challenge here.

For the first time, Young Poets Network has published a longlist for this challenge, to recognise the work of more writers whose work impressed the judges. Congratulations to the longlisted poets in this challenge: Dipo Baruwa-Etti, Evie Bruce, Eve Fraher, Hannah Hodgson, Matilda Houston-Brown, Emeline Hulsen, Nadia Lines, Natalie Linh Bolderston, Cia Mangat, Amy McGinn, Malavika Selvaraj, Eleanor Smith, Elizabeth Thatcher, Maggie Wang.

Mari Hughes-Edwards said of the longlist, ‘Each one had something – whether it be a line that sounded just right – or a jewel of a metaphor, or an amusingly self-deprecating Duffyan reference.’

Find the prompts and read more

Carol Ann Duffy steps down as Poet Laureate on 30 April. Find out more about the Poet Laureate