Winners of Young Poets Network 10th anniversary challenge announced

Celebrating 10 years of The Poetry Society's Young Poets Network

The Poetry Society is delighted to announce the winners of Young Poets Network’s 10th anniversary writing challenge.

Marking ten years of The Poetry Society’s online platform for poets aged 25 and younger around the world, the challenge invited young writers to respond to any of the 136 writing challenges or 253 features published in the Network’s first ten years.

Nearly three hundred entries were sent in from fifteen countries and from across the UK, engaging with ninety different challenges and features from Young Poets Network’s lifetime.

The most popular sources of inspiration were the ‘In praise of short poems’ challenge and 2020’s August challenge on fairy tale poetry set by Foyle Young Poet Meredith LeMaître, prompting 25 and 15 new poems respectively. Foyle Young Poet Danique Bailey’s August challenge on meta-poems, Peter Kahn’s Golden Shovel challenge, last year’s People Need Nature challenge with Gboyega Odubanjo, and the Ode to (Small) Joy challenge prompted by 2020’s first lockdown proved popular choices for entrants too.

We are delighted to announce that the first prize winning entry to the Young Poets Network 10th anniversary challenge is Sportn’t, a moving zine by young poets April Egan, Stas Forte and Mercury Tarantino, created in response to this year’s collaborative challenge. They introduce the zine:

We thought about calling this ‘never good at sport’ until we realised we were. We love being outside. It was simply hard to leave the changing rooms we were thrown into, hard to see how games that so often ended in us being insulted could be enjoyable. We found ourselves later in our bodies and our myths and we also found freedom in other things we love to explore. We are fast runners and swimmers and dancers now not for escape but for ourselves. Our physical education continues on our own terms. The remnant of a joke between three queer kids that somehow became a vessel for us defined by our lack of co-ordination – Sportn’t.

Read Sportn’t below, download it here, and find a text-only version here. (Please note some of the poems contain references to disordered eating.)

Several of the winners have shared video and audio performances of their poems, which you can find on the challenge page.

Congratulations to the winners:

1st prize: Sportn’t, a zine by April Egan, Stas Forte and Mercury Tarantino
2nd prize: ‘Robert Hooke Reimagines London’ by Jack Cooper
3rd prize: ‘Avore’ by Amy Wolstenholme
Commended: ‘Item 293.7 Rural History Museum, 30/04/2221’ by Hannah Hodgson
Commended: ‘brother and sister climbing dead oak’ by Divya Mehrish
Commended: ‘An Edict In Destiny (Or: Helena Looking Back)’ by Creagh Factor
Commended: ‘Sharon, Massachusetts’ by Dana Blatte
Commended: ‘On Becoming a Changeling’ by Ellora Sutton

Read the winning poems here.

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

Kaitlyn Amott, Claire Carlotti, Imogen Cooper, Natalie Hampton, Elsie Hayward, Jayant Kashyap, Kristine Ma, Karen Ng, Jesse Smith, Olivia Todd and Rucha Virmani.

Find out more about the challenge and read the winning poems here.

In April 2021, The Poetry Society marked the tenth anniversary of Young Poets Network, its online platform for poetry lovers aged 25 and younger worldwide. The occasion was marked with a range of features exploring all it has achieved in its first decade, and sharing the memories and tips from young poets who’ve been involved so far. Find out more about the celebrations and how you can get involved in Young Poets Network here.