Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2018 Winners Announced

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The Poetry Society has announced today the top 15 winners and 85 commended poets of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2018 at a prize-giving ceremony at the Southbank Centre, Royal Festival Hall, London. Organised by The Poetry Society and generously supported by the Foyle Foundation, the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Held annually since 1998, the Foyle Awards is one of the largest literary competitions in the world and a defining award for young poets, in some cases kickstarting the career of some of today’s most exciting voices in poetry. The 2018 competition attracted nearly 11,000 poems from nearly 6,000 poets from around the world, including all postcode areas of the UK. Writers from 83 countries entered the competition, including Armenia, Botswana, Cambodia, Eritrea, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and for the very first time, Uruguay. From the thousands of poems entered, this year’s judges Caroline Bird (a Foyle winner in 1999 & 2000) and Daljit Nagra (BBC Radio 4’s Poet in Residence and also a Foyle judge in 2008) selected 100 winners, made up of 15 top poets and 85 commended poets. Caroline spoke of the way the winning poems came alive on the page:

“The poems that embedded themselves in my mind were those with a strong, original idea. They jumped out because they felt new and vivid; cinematic and alive, like they weren’t documented on the page they were occurring on the page. “I can still see the images in my head... You instantly feel like you’ve been ushered into an original world – the poet’s world. Or sometimes it was about the way they looked at a situation, with x-ray eyes... that gazed under the surface of the ordinary.”

Daljit was impressed by the maturity of thought and writing from the younger winners: “I was pleased to read so many outstanding poems by children under 15 years of age. This shows the excellent health of poetry across the ages; the last time I judged, a decade ago, nearly all the winners were late teens. Our young poets forced their way into the final 100 through the sheer vigour of the voice. “I was also impressed by the maturity of the work we read; so many of our young poets showed a keen awareness of serious issues such as identity politics, environment issues and the global tensions currently between nation states. I really felt our young poets were keen to explore the perilous state of our world through poetry; they seem to regard verse as a valid form of expression for serious ideas. “Our young poets seemed keen to pay respect to traditional forms, good lineation and stanza forms as a way of developing their imaginative arguments. This was highly impressive.”

Winners of the award receive a fantastic range of prizes to help develop their writing. The top 15 poets (age dependent) are invited to attend a residential writing course where they spend a week with experienced tutors focusing on improving their poetry, or receive poetry workshops at their school. The top 15 poems will be published in a printed winners' anthology (also available online) from March 2019. The 85 commended poems will appear in an online anthology. Both anthologies are distributed free to thousands of schools, libraries, reading groups and poetry lovers across the UK and the world.

The Top 15 Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2018 are:

Suzanne Antelme, 16,  Surrey

Mathilda Armiger, 16,  Norfolk

Caitlin Catheld Pyper, 13, Newcastle upon Tyne

Maiya Dambawinna, 17, Leeds

Suki Datar Jones, 17, London

Olivia Hu, 17, British Columbia, Canada

Angela King, 15, London

Sammy Loehnis, 12, Oxfordshire

Cia Mangat, 16, London

Maggie Olszewski, 17, South Carolina, USA

Em Power, 15, London

Elizabeth Thatcher, 16, London

 Lucy Thynne, 17, London

Sophie Thynne, 15, London

 Georgie Woodhead, 15, Sheffield

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Big Sal

Wed 3rd Oct 2018 19:42

Only one American? See, I keep telling everyone poetry isn't that big over here in the States.

Congrats to every single one of them. #goingplacesfast ha ha.

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