Human Cell Atlas challenge winners are announced

The Poetry Society is delighted to announce the winners of the Human Cell Atlas challenge, run on The Poetry Society’s Young Poets Network with Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts, as part of a project called One Cell at a Time.

One Cell at a Time explores the areas where art and science meet and is inspired by the work of the Human Cell Atlas – an international research initiative, which is creating a map of all the cell types in the human body.

Young people worldwide aged 25 and younger were challenged to write poems that played with the language and sounds of the Human Cell Atlas’s ground-breaking research.

The competition received nearly 400 entries from 23 countries worldwide, including India, China, Nigeria and New Zealand. There were also entries from Bangladesh and Kazakhstan, a first for Young Poets Network.

All six of the winning poems can be read and heard on the Young Poets Network and One Cell at a Time websites.

The competition was judged by a panel led by poet and critic Theresa Muñoz, One Cell at a Time project curator Dr. Suzy O’Hara, and Newcastle University scientist Professor Muzlifah Haniffa. Congratulations to the winners:

1st prize: ‘Centriole’, Anna Bailey, 19, North Yorkshire, England
2nd prize: ‘Epithelium’, Kitty Joyce, 17, Oxford, England
3rd prize: ‘Apoptosis’, Matilda Houston-Brown, 19, Stoke-on-Trent, England
Commended: ‘The distance between us’, Lauren Mappledoram, 25, London, England
Commended: ‘Membrane’, Alannah Young, 21, Paris, France
Commended: ‘Cytoplasm’, Nadia Lines, 19, Hertfordshire, England

Of the first-place poem, judge Theresa Muñoz, from the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts, said: “This poem is an evocative and experimental exploration of the human cell – the imaginative form and language made it stand out from the crowd.”

Read the winning poems here.

The Poetry Society also congratulates the longlisted poets in this challenge:

Madeleine Aase-Remedios, Sairah Ahsan, Aliyah Begum, Alex Bond, Dale Booton, Dillon Butt, Jack Cooper, Faith Cunningham, Eleanor Dakin, Kaycee Hill, Hannah Hodgson, Jayant Kashyap, Alice Oldacre, Karishma Sangtani, Scarlett-Rose, Ellora Sutton, Alannah Taylor, Yvanna Vien Tica, Jhermayne Ubalde, Amy Wolstenholme, Lauren Young and Vinci Yung.

All the winning and longlisted poets’ work was shared with a group of scientists working on the Human Cell Atlas, who gave anonymous feedback to the writers.

Professor Muzlifah Haniffa, Professor of Dermatology and Immunology at Newcastle University and Wellcome Senior Research Fellow in Clinical Science, who was one of the judges, said:

The Human Cell Atlas has been made possible by scientists from many different disciplines and with diverse scientific expertise working together. It has been wonderful to see the poems and how these talented young people have explored the language of the Human Cell Atlas science, to produce beautiful, new and inspired creations.

The winners will:

  • Receive 1-2-1 mentoring and advice from an established poet
  • Have their poem included in the One Cell at a Time exhibition which will tour the UK in Autumn 2021
  • Have their poetry published in the One Cell at a Time ‘zine’ published in 2021 and on The Poetry Society’s Young Poets Network
  • Receive an exclusive Young Poets Network notebook, poetry books, posters, and up to £50 book tokens
  • Receive ongoing support and development opportunities from The Poetry Society

Discover the challenge and the winners’ work here.

13 April 2021