10 Years of Young Poets Network

Celebrating 10 years of The Poetry Society's Young Poets Network ypn.poetrysociety.org.uk

I have so much more confidence in my writing now. The regular challenges encourage me to write frequently, and the opportunities to perform and meet other poets that YPN offers are beyond anything I could have imagined… YPN showed me that there is a place for me, and all young poets. I am sure they would love to help you find yours.
Nadia Lines

In April 2021, The Poetry Society marked the tenth anniversary of Young Poets Network (YPN), its online platform for poetry lovers aged 25 and younger worldwide. We published a range of features on Young Poets Network about all it has achieved in its first decade, and sharing the memories and tips from young poets who’ve been involved so far. Dive into them below:

If these things have inspired you to get involved, sign up to our mailing list and join in!

Ten years of Young Poets Network

Young Poets Network is The Poetry Society’s platform for young people, with opportunities for young writers to have their work published, learn about poets past and present, and make connections with other young poets worldwide.

Since 2011, the website has been viewed over two million times. Young Poets Network has published 253 features and 136 writing challenges, each one introducing young people to new poets and techniques. From the very first challenge from Ross Sutherland to write univocal poems, to Peter Kahn’s masterclass on Golden Shovels, Young Poets Network has given those without access to poetry workshops the resources to develop their writing at home.

The prompts given on YPN have led to me writing far more poems than I would have otherwise. When I started writing poetry, I was so shy that my poetry made me feel embarrassed – and then to see that I had made so much I started to feel proud. I hated my voice – now all I want to do is use it.
April Egan

These writing challenges have inspired over 10,000 young people from 88 countries (and every county in England) to write and submit nearly 12,000 new poems. Of these, 813 have been published on the Young Poets Network website and in five print and online anthologies. The website provides a space for young people’s voices to be heard, and to inspire other young people to take their writing seriously. Winners are celebrated, sent prizes, and offered onward opportunities, from performances to workshops. These offer chances to form a global community.

In India, it has actually been a bit difficult for me to find friends who work on poetry with the same craziness as myself. During the lockdown in 2020, I ended up making a few friends online via YPN. I’m really grateful for being able to find people I can discuss a lot of poetry with.
Jayant Kashyap

Meanwhile, interviews with and articles by leading poets like Daljit Nagra, Joelle Taylor, Mary Jean Chan, Matthew Sweeney, Kayo Chingonyi and Rupi Kaur on Young Poets Network have given valuable insights into what it means to be a poet, how to develop poetic craft and how a young poet can find their tribe. 

Young Poets Network also platforms young writers as much as possible, commissioning them to write reviews, interviews and articles throughout the year; and every August, four Foyle Young Poets are invited to set and judge writing challenges for the summer holidays.

Challenges are often set in partnership with other organisations, offering further opportunities to run from writing workshops and performances, print anthologies of winners’ work, create films and more, and have included collaborations between The Poetry Society and Oxfam, the V&A Museum, Human Cell Atlas, National Trust, BBC Proms, Bletchley Park, English National Ballet, RSPB, British Library, Cape Farewell, People Need Nature, and many more organisations in the education, arts and culture sectors.

Abby Meyer, Jamie Hancock and Zainab Ismail, commended in the Melting Ice challenge in partnership with National Maritime Museum in 2017, performing their winning poems at an event celebrating the opening of the new Polar Worlds gallery, where anthologies of the winning and commended poems are freely available, and the first prize winning poem is part of the permanent exhibition
Abby Meyer, Jamie Hancock and Zainab Ismail, commended in the 2017 Melting Ice challenge, performing their winning poems at the National Maritime Museum

Young Poets Network also lists the best opportunities for young poets across the literature sector, currently listing 219 magazines, competitions, writing groups and other opportunities specifically aimed at young writers in the Poetry Opportunities section. The fortnightly newsletter includes a round-up of The Poetry Society’s projects for young people, as well as selected top opportunities from other organisations.

The opportunities and competitions pages are so so useful and where I’ve found almost everything I’ve been involved in.
Katie Kirkpatrick

Through the Find Out How To page and the Poetry Glossary, poets can discover reading suggestions, tips on editing, performing and sending their work out, as well as explanations of terminology and ideas. Though Young Poets Network is aimed at 5-25-year-olds, writers of any age will find prompts and new techniques on the website.

Any time I meet a young person who shows even the slightest bit of interest in writing poetry, I immediately direct them to YPN. Because beyond the challenges, and the fantastic prompts, it’s also a directory of resources – and a support network.
Annika Cleland-Hura

As well as these homestays of the YPN website, there have also been one-off opportunities that have been just as impactful on smaller numbers of young people. These have included chances to receive written feedback on their work, an online workshop series over Zoom during the first lockdown for twelve poets aged 18-25 from the UK and USA, and Young Poets Takeovers – poetry events specifically for, by and with poets aged 25 and younger.

I got so much from spending time with other young poets from all over the world. It developed my poetry practice endlessly and shaped how I think about the process of editing and forming a poem.
Lucas Sheridan
Photo of lots of young people cheering and waving their arms about in The Poetry Café basement
Young Poets Takeover 2018

The Poetry Society would like to thank all the Young Poets Networkers from the past ten years, as well as partner organisations, poets, teachers and workshop leaders who have made YPN what it is today.

Join the tenth birthday celebrations throughout April: follow @thepoetrysociety on Instagram and @youngpoetsnet on Twitter to see our highlights from the last decade, and share memories using the hashtag #YoungPoetsNetwork.

Poets aged 25 and younger are also invited to write in response to Young Poets Network’s archive and submit their poems to the latest challenge in honour of its birthday. Find out more and submit by 2 May 2021.

For a fuller history of the past ten years and to find out how to get involved, visit Young Poets Network at ypn.poetrysociety.org.uk and sign up to the free mailing list.