Poems to Solve the Climate Crisis: Prize-Winning Young Poets to Perform at COP26

Left to right: Maggie Wang, Jayant Kashyap, Brooke Nind, Aliyah Begum, Daniel Clark, Sabrina Guo, Irma Kiss Barath, Renée Orleans-Lindsay, Yvanna Vien Tica and Mags Dixon

The Poetry Society is delighted to announce the winners of the Poems to Solve the Climate Crisis Challenge on Young Poets Network, created in partnership with People Need Nature and judged by poet Louisa Adjoa Parker.

This poetry writing challenge was inspired by the United Nations Climate Conference (COP26), which will be hosted in Glasgow this November. It invited young people aged 25 and younger worldwide to respond to the UK’s COP26 Presidency Theme of Nature, and to imagine ways that nature could flourish and help us combat the climate crisis.

A selection of the winners of this Challenge will share their poetry at COP26 in Glasgow at 12noon GMT on 6 November 2021. The performance will also be broadcast live through COP26’s YouTube channel. Book tickets and find out more here.

The Challenge inspired poems from writers aged 7-25 in 23 countries worldwide, including Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Ghana and Malaysia, and across the UK. The winning poems address a wide spectrum of issues including deforestation, rising sea levels, household waste, and carbon emissions, and acknowledge that there are no quick-fix answers, and that actions require widespread cooperation. The Poetry Society congratulates the winners:

1st prize: ‘An Alternative Geometry of the Universe’ Maggie Wang, 19, USA
2nd prize: ‘A Positively Violent Poem in Five Parts’ Jayant Kashyap, 21, India
3rd prize: ‘Mycelium Under the Canopy’ Brooke Nind, 17, Simi Valley, California, USA
Commended:
‘Incantation (For a Sea Change)’ Jamie Baty, 24, London
‘Walking to the Train Station’ Aliyah Begum, 18, Birmingham
‘Sixteen Haiku’ Daniel Clark, 22, Lincoln
‘65 Cybele’ Sabrina Guo, 15, Oyster Bay, New York, USA
‘Letter to a Loving Husband’ Irma Kiss Barath, 18, Vancouver, Canada
‘a united solution’ Renée Orleans-Lindsay, 17, Surrey
‘The Ocean Makes Creatures of Us’ Yvanna Vien Tica, 17, Philippines

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

Kaitlyn Amott, Elinor Clark, Jack Cooper, Kaycee Hill, Spatika Jayaram, Alfie Lash, Sarah O’Flynn, Sinéad O’Reilly and Matt Sowerby.

Read, watch and listen to the winning poems here.

Louisa Adjoa ParkerJudge Louisa Adjoa Parker applauded the winners of the Challenge: “Congratulations to all the winners! It was such a privilege to read these poems and to see how you all engaged with such an important topic, in such a powerful, talented, and insightful way. Although it was hard to choose winners, because of the high quality of the entries, these are the poems that spoke to me the loudest and will stay with me the longest. Thank you for writing them.”

Maggie WangMaggie Wang, who was awarded first prize for her poem ‘An Alternative Geometry of the Universe’, said: “I’m honoured to be named as one of the winners of this Challenge. My poem was an attempt to envision what the Earth might look like without us, or what it might look like if we took a step back and recognised our place as one link or one step in the broader cycles of the natural world. Though humans have made an incomparably deep impression on the planet, we should not forget what came before, what will come after, and what continues to exist in the natural happenings around us – often without our notice.”

COP26 logo reading: Together for our Planet

A selection of the winners of the Poems to Solve the Climate Crisis Challenge will feature at an in-person event live at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on 6 November at 12 noon GMT.

The poets who will be represented at COP26 include the first-prize winner of the Poems to Solve the Climate Crisis Challenge Maggie Wang, alongside commended poets Aliyah Begum, Renée Orleans-Lindsay and Daniel Clark. These poets will be joined by local young poet Mags Dixon, a five-time winner of The Poetry Society’s Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, who is studying Geography and Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow. Mags will be reading a selection of poems addressing the impact of human industry on the environment. There will also be livestreamed performances from the other winners of the Challenge, beamed in from across the globe, including Jayant Kashyap, Brooke Nind, Sabrina Guo, Irma Kiss Barath and Yvanna Vien Tica.

The Poems to Solve the Climate Crisis Challenge is the fourth partnership between Young Poets Network and People Need Nature, and has been generously supported by Mrs J.R. King. As part of People Need Nature’s contribution to COP26, Louisa Adjoa-Parker will be working with primary school children at Damers School in Poundbury, Dorset, to create poems expressing their feelings about the climate crisis. A short film of the children performing their poems will also be broadcast during the COP showcase in Glasgow.

 

Young Poets Network is The Poetry Society’s global online platform for young poets up to the age of 25. It runs regular writing challenges, platforms young poets’ work, publishes features with top tips, and lists opportunities for young poets from across the writing world. ypn.poetrysociety.org.uk

People Need Nature is a charity which promotes the value of nature for people in their everyday lives: nature as a source of inspiration, as a source of solace; and nature enriching people’s spiritual lives. PNN also work to influence public thinking and policy to place a greater value on nature for these things. Find out more about People Need Nature’s work at peopleneednature.org.uk

Find a press release here

Published 1 October 2021

Young Poets Network logo, with characters like a yeti boy with hands on hip, a capybara, a yeti

People Need Nature logo: a tree made out of a green thumbprint on a trunk