The Poetry Society has announced today the top 15 winners and 85 commended poets of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2021 at a virtual prize-giving ceremony. Find the winning poems here, alongside a specially commissioned artwork by Thom Kofoed responding to all 100 winning poems.
Run by The Poetry Society and generously supported by the Foyle Foundation, this has been an extraordinary 23rd year for The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award. Since 1998, the Award has been finding, celebrating and supporting the very best young poets from around the world. The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award is firmly established as the leading competition for young poets aged between 11 and 17 years old.
An amazing 14,408 poems from 6,775 young people were entered. Young people from 109 countries entered the competition from as far afield as Argentina, Egypt, Kenya, South Korea and the Seychelles, and every corner of the UK.
From these poems this year’s judges Clare Pollard and Yomi Ṣode selected 100 winners, made up of 15 top poets and 85 commended poets. Clare and Yomi said:
“Judging this year’s Foyle Young Poets of the Year was an absolute honour. After a period in which the burdens of the pandemic have often fallen so heavily on young people, we were moved by the beauty, fire and resilience of these poems. These poets write out of diverse backgrounds, landscapes and experiences, and this has translated into a rich variety of form and language. Here are poems about youth, gender, poverty, love, struggle, politics, culture, family. Poems brimming with rightful anger and hard-won hope. But it is the vivid images that have stuck most forcefully out in our minds: ‘a fat chalk of canned coconut milk’; the ‘tender sloppiness’ of daisy-chains; ‘limescale curling around a plug hole as a dragon’s tail’; dust’s ‘gleam’ in the spotlight; the smell of ‘Chick King’; ‘cracked plastic cups at children’s parties’. These are poems that fully inhabit this present moment.
With over 14,000 entries this year, it seems that young people have continued writing throughout the recent lockdowns, and often felt a greater need than ever to use poetry for self-expression, activism and consolation. You think of the quotation from Wu Cheng’en’s novel Monkey inscribed upon Sylvia Plath’s gravestone: ‘Even amidst fierce flames / the golden lotus can be planted’. We are humbled to welcome all those who participated this year into the community of poets, and know that the voices of this year’s winners will ring out, clear and urgent, over the coming years.”
Congratulations to the top 15 winners of this year’s Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award:
Ahana Banerji, Alex Dunton, Anja Livesey, Briancia Mullings, chenrui, Daniel Wale, Dhruti Halambi, Erin Hateley, Evie Alam, Giovanni Rose, Hollie Fovargue, Jenna Hunt, Lulu Marken, Sarisha Mehta and Ran Zhao.
Congratulations to the 85 commended poets:
Abi Vance, Aditi Banerjee, Adrienne Knight, Alana Hussein, Alex Heather, Alex Sayette, Alexander Brown, Anandini Sengupta, Anna Heezen, Anna Jones, Aratrika Lahiri, Bea Unwin, Boudicca Eades, Caitlin Pyper, Dorothea Davies, Duaa Waseem, Ela Briant, Ela Rifat, Ella Quarmby, Elise Withey, Ellory Hogton, Ellyson Haynes, Emma Picolo, Eva Westenberger, Eve Hannon, Finn Parkinson, Freya Cook, Freya Leech, Freyja Harrison-Wood, Grace Liu, Ingrid Fellah, Isabel Lyle, Ishani Pandey, Jacob Keneson, Jazmine Brett, Jess Sutton, Jessica Kim, Jilin Yan, Kirsten Allen, Kyo Lee, Lauren Lisk, Lillian Yanagimoto, Lin Zhao, Liv Goldreich, Liz Mbuthi, Logan Care, Maddie Stoll, Madeleine Whitmore, Madhu Kannan, Magenta Muir, Maille Hennessy, Manon Memmi Weir, Marlo Cowan, Megan Kidd, Meredith LeMaître Nugent, Merit Habib Matta, Miceala Morano, Milly Bell, Nicole Hur, Noah Emmens, Noah Jones, Reena Rajyaguru, Rena Su, Robin Cox, Rojay Peaches, RJ Danvers, Ruby Corrigan, Sarah Mohammed, Sasha Carter, Sia Shekhar, Sinéad O’Reilly, Síomha Gallagher Charlton, Sophie White, Stas Forte, Stefan Jinga, Syazwani Saifudin, Tane Kim, Tamsin Meek, Thomas Griffin, Tina Huang, William Goltz, Yong-Yu Huang, Yusra Motin, Zara Tosun and Zoë Legge.
Winners of the award receive a fantastic range of prizes to help develop their writing. The top 15 poets are invited to attend a residential writing course at the Arvon centre, The Hurst in Shropshire, in February 2022. There they will spend a week with this year’s judges, Clare and Yomi, focusing on improving their poetry and establishing a community of writers. All 100 winners of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award receive a year’s youth membership of The Poetry Society and a goody bag full of books donated by generous sponsors. The Poetry Society continues to support winners throughout their careers providing publication, performance and development opportunities, and access to a paid internship programme.
The top 15 poems will be published in a printed winners’ anthology (also available online) from March 2022. The 85 commended poems will appear in an online anthology. Both anthologies showcase the talent of the winners and are distributed free to thousands of schools, libraries, reading groups and poetry lovers across the UK and the world. Videos of the winners performing their poems will be available soon, alongside teaching resources to help inspire future young writers.
Congratulations to all this year’s Foyle Young Poets. We look forward to hearing more from them in the future!
7 October 2021