The Poetry Society launches virtual shelves for young readers

With libraries beginning to re-open, The Poetry Society launches a series of virtual bookshelves with reading suggestions for young people. We’re also asking you to send in your own poetry recommendations for young readers. Find out more.


above: shelfie by Foyle Young Poets

Browse, borrow, request, renew – lovely words to me.
A library card in your hand is your democracy.

from ‘Dear Library’ by Jackie Kay

This year’s Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award has been more popular than ever, and many of the poems we’ve received have responded to the news. In particular, Covid-19 has sparked a poetic outpouring, with young people using poetry to grapple with changes to their daily routine, separation from their friends, and, for some, the loss of loved ones.

For some young writers, the competition may be their first experience of writing poetry, and they may well be wondering where to go next. How should they find out more about the poetry world? What could they be reading? How can they share their latest exciting poetic discovery with other like-minded young writers?

In normal circumstances, these are questions often answered by their local or school libraries. But with many schools and libraries having been closed during lockdown, we wanted to find an alternative way to provide this opportunity for discovery and sharing.

We therefore created the virtual ‘shelfie’ project: a collection of reading recommendations on various topics, suitable for young people. Recommendations were provided by past winners of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, Young Poets Networkers, and Poets in Schools. They cover a range of issues, from poetry for making sense of the climate crisis to poetry for lockdown.

We hope that this project will offer those new to poetry a sense of connection to the wider poetry community. And as libraries begin to open their doors again, we hope it will provide young people with some leads to follow up when they can once again browse physical shelves.

Check out the shelves here. If you would like to suggest your own shelfie, email us at [email protected] with the following:

  • Your name and details (are you a teacher, a young writer, a poet etc.)
  • The name/theme of your shelf
  • The age/educational stage it’s suitable for (please remember suggestions should be suitable for younger readers)
  • Recommendations of 4-5 books on the topic, and for each of them, a short sentence explaining your recommendation, a quote from the book and a link to the publisher’s details. It’s fine to recommend out-of-print books, but they must be easily available second-hand!

Enter Now badge with a blue whaleIf you know a young person aged 11-17 who is into writing poetry, do encourage them to enter this year’s Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award. The competition remains open for entries until midnight BST on 31 July 2020 – enter at

3 July 2020