Young Syrian refugee wins Betjeman poetry prize with lament for her country
A 13-year-old refugee from Syria has won the Betjeman poetry prize for 10-13-year-olds with her poem ‘Lament for Syria’. Amineh Abou Kerech, from Oxford, was presented with her prize beside the statue of Sir John Betjeman at St Pancras station on National Poetry Day. Runners-up were Daisy Foley and Jemima Webster, both aged 12.
According to an article on the Guardian website, Amineh started writing poems during the four years her family spent in Egypt after fleeing the civil war in Syria. She moved to England last summer. Her prizewinning poem was written half in English, half in Arabic, and translated fully into English with help from her sister, her teacher and Google Translate.
She attends Spires Academy in Oxford, a multicultural academy where more than 30 languages are spoken. She and her sister joined a workshop led by the Iraqi poet Adnan Al-Sayegh, and met poet Kate Clanchy, the school’s writer-in-residence since 2009, and who has been helping them at weekly classses.
Amineh receives a £500 prize with an extra £500 given to her school.