Our Impact: Testimonials

Read what they're saying about: Foyle Young Poets ; SLAMbassadors ; Poets in Schools ; Poetryclass Inset sessions

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award: The key prize for poets aged 11-17

"The Young Poets Society: Meet Britain's rising stars of verse" The Independent On Sunday, 4th October 2009

"Previous winners have repaid their promise, and then some. Richard O'Brien set up Pomegranate, a poetry ezine, to publish the best new work by writers under 30. Caroline Bird (1999 and 2000) was the youngest writer shortlisted for the 2008 Dylan Thomas Prize. Now 22, she co-tutored February's course.If there was a theme among last year's entries, says [Lemn] Sissay], it had to do with "a need to counter the thunderstorm of mass information we receive through every medium". But the 15 winning poets on the course came from all walks of life – from the daughter of a family of gypsies to the son of a London theatre producer" Katy Guest, Independent on Sunday, 7th March 2010.

“What’s so amazing about this award is the large numbers of young writers the competition is able to inspire.  The encouragement of knowing what you’ve done has surfaced, and that you must be on track in some way, is huge.” Jane Draycott, Foyle Judge 2010

“The Foyle Young Poets Awards are important beckoning points for younger writers. They recognise a poet's first adventures into a public space for their poetry.” Prof. David Morley, National Teaching Fellow, Warwick University

“More than anything else, winning the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award has helped fuel my passion for poetry even further while discovering and honing my own voice with the inspiring support of other same-wave-lengthers. Marvellous.” Dom Hale, Foyle Winner 2009 & 2010

“I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed my Arvon experience, and to thank you for everything you did to organise it. Although I was initially hugely nervous about going, it turned out to be one of the best weeks of my life - there are already plans for the 14 Foylers to meet up again at Easter! I'm determined to raise the profile of the competition in my school, as I think the opportunities it offers are incredible. Thank you again!” Phoebe Walker, Foyle Winner 2009

"Judging the Foyle award this year was pretty much the most rewarding thing I've ever had the pleasure of being part of so far. What I’ve read is a tribute to the talent and vision of the young poets, and also to the teachers who’ve evidently instilled such confidence and passion". Luke Kennard, Foyle Judge 2010

“The Poetry Society understands that creativity is not a mathematical formula, therefore it cannot be taught, it can only be encouraged. What I learned there was impossible to learn in school: getting on stage around London, attending workshops with kids from vastly different backgrounds, being recommended for radio shows and going to the Hurst for an Arvon course with two world-class poets is not something that happens in formal education. Teach all the grammar and arithmetic you like, institutions such as the Poetry Society augment a young person’s passion for learning, and aid the application of this learning to life. The Poetry Society has been a direct and major influence on the choices I’ve made and the career I aspire to: it was the kind recommendation letter from the ex-director that helped my application to university and their much appreciated recognition of my interest in the broader world of literature that has boosted my CV. It was the passion of the education department who ran the workshops I attended that has led to me doing the same for pupils in other schools. I read many of the poems I went on to publish at open-mics in the basement, met many of the people I now call friends in the café and saw some brilliant performances - all before I was twenty. I do not come from a literary background, but I consider the Poetry Society an extended family that tirelessly recommends, promotes and encourages, and has the best interests of the art – and the individual artist - at heart. I’m coming towards the end of my education, but maintain an interest in the changes happening in our school system. I'm aware of the anxiety surrounding drop-outs, "dumbing down" and the uneven quality of the education people from different backgrounds receive. I can say with absolute confidence that the Poetry Society effortlessly attains the thing that eludes most politicians (and many teachers): the ability to instil a sense of purpose in all the young people who encounter it.” Jay Bernard, Foyle Winner 2005 & SLAMbassador Winner (formerly Rise Slam) 2004

 “Right from the beginning, the Poetry Society has been supporting my writing career. In fact, it would be fair to say that, if it weren’t for winning the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award in 2006, my writing would probably have petered out a few months after it started, and I wouldn’t have had any writing career to speak of. Going on my first Arvon course with Paul Farley, Kate Clanchy, Jean Sprackland, Colin Watts and fellow young poets was an experience like nothing I had ever encountered before, and it is no exaggeration to say that I came back from Arvon a different person, buzzing with the electricity of having made new friends and of having discovered more about myself. From then on, I became more and more involved in the world of poetry: regularly going to events at the Poetry Café and other venues, using my membership card for discounts in bookshops, doing work experience at the Poetry Society, and eventually going on to be commended in the FYP Award in 2007 and win it again in 2008 and 2009. Now, having passed the age limit for the FYP Award, I have taken out my first paid membership to the Poetry Society for the next three years. The journey that started in September 2006 when I got that phonecall that all young poets wait for is far from over. My lifelong gratitude goes to the Poetry Society for helping me to realize my potential at the stage where it really mattered” Adham Smart, Foyle Winner 2006, 2008 & 2009

The Foyle Foundation and The Poetry Society have been on an amazing journey over the last 8 years in developing The Foyle Young Poets. During this time the scheme has grown to become a major programme and literary award attracting thousands more applicants as we have pioneered new ways of targeting and reaching young people and schools. The Foundation has been deeply impressed at how The Poetry Society over this period has grown in stature, skills, professionalism and expertise as the scheme has developed and expanded helped by the Poetry Society’s national development role” David Hall, Chief Executive, The Foyle Foundation.

“As well as giving my poetry space to develop, the course also gave me a set of lovely new friends! Poetry is essentially our thoughts and feelings in the truest way we can represent them, and sharing this meant there was a wonderful openness and trust in the group. By the end of the week, I loved everyone and felt as if I had known them all my life. The casual, non-competitive atmosphere made it easy to write honestly without feeling self-conscious, and this was reflected in the work.” Phoebe Power, Foyle Winner 2009

 “Coming back into the real world has been a strange thing after the Arvon course, rather like waking up from a dream: a beautiful dream in which, in the valley of Housman’s “blue remembered hills”, one could sit and write and discuss poetry for hours, and where men wore fezzes with goatee beards; a place where you and your work are made to feel valued and appreciated. One question remains - Can I go again please?” Michael Kalisch, Foyle Winner 2008

“Thank you so much "Foyle Young Poets" For this whole experience. This competition has to be the best I have entered, it is fun, friendly and kid safe. Thank you so much and I am very nervously awaiting the results!”  Foyle Entrant 2010

“It's like I've finally been validated as a person! Ah!” Foyle Commended 2010

SLAMbassadors: The Poetry Society’s Slam Championship for 12-18 year olds

“SLAMbassadors is something that I support because it’s not just about the slamming, it’s about the networking with other poets and young writers and also other experienced writers and that’s really, really important because on the whole writing can be a very isolating thing. So to get together with a group of people, some of your own age, some of your peers, some who are older and more experienced and have what I call ‘cultural intercourse’ is a beautiful thing” Benjamin Zephaniah

“The Poetry Society has been instrumental in my career as a writer. Were it not for my involvement in their youth programs I never would have conceived of being a poet as something I could do with my life. Now I'm working on a first collection of poems, published in magazines and anthologies and have countless live appearances around the world to my name. All of the skills that allow me to work as a writer were honed when I was sixteen years old and receiving mentorship from Joelle Taylor and Dorothea Smart through the Poetry Society's Respect Poetry Slam Competition. I often return to the techniques I was taught in live readings and the books I was given as part of my prize have fostered a love of poetry which has lead me to study English Literature at BA and Creative Writing at MA level. I am now also a poetry tutor and regularly work with children, young people and adults to pass on the enthusiasm for the art that The Poetry Society instilled in me. Without the Poetry Society I wouldn't be where I am now and, looking at the other writers in my generation, I doubt the current crop of younger poets would be so developed and serious about their art if The Poetry Society didn't exist.” Kayo Chingonyi, SLAMbassador Winner 2003

“Before SLAMbassadors I was getting excluded from school and was the biggest underachiever in my year group but this gave me the chance to excel and rise above that. It gave me confidence to perform on stage and do things that I would never have dreamt of” Hussain Manawar, SLAMbassador Participant

Our Work in Schools & the Schools Network Education Package

“The Poetry Society is at the heart of poetry in education, nurturing the relationships between poets, pupils and teachers with care, vision and flair. The new Schools Network Education Package is an excellent new, national initiative which will have the passionate support of all of us who care about the central position of poetry in education”  Carol Ann Duffy

“Working with the Poetry Society has inspired both teachers and pupils and has contributed to an improvement in results at GCSE”   Mary Kelso, School Improvement Officer, Liverpool

“Belonging to the Poetry Society has helped me feel part of a growing and dynamic community of poets, teachers and readers. The Foyle Young Poets and SLAMbassadors competitions have shown me two strikingly different ways young people create poetry in the twenty-first century” Sophie Breese, Teacher, St. Paul’s Girl’s School, London

“The Poetry Society’s new initiative is to be welcomed. Remembering the wise words of Robert Frost that poetry ‘begins in delight and ends in wisdom’, everyone who can should get behind their new Network Education Package” Morag Styles, Reader in Children’s Literature and Education, University of Cambridge.

"All the schools will be responding to one another's ideas, creating a dialogue and working together towards our final project. There is just as much onus placed on working with the teachers as the pupils, in  order to create a legacy for their project and see the kinds of exercises I have developed being passed onto future generations of young writers" Poet Ross Sutherland, Faciliatator of the Lambeth Schools Project, April - July 2010 (participants comments below)

"I liked playing word association games, it was really fun"  Connie, Yr 3, Lambeth

"What was the best part of the workshops? Everything!" Delina, Yr 3, Lambeth

"I found working with a poem really fun because we thought of things to pretend to be and make a poem about" Charlie, Yr 3, Lambeth

"I enjoyed it because we were using words that are interesting and funny" Adam, Yr 4, Lambeth

"I would like to do this again and wouldn't change anything!" Marlo, Yr 4, Lambeth

"It helped me with my writing" Serena, Yr 4, Lambeth

"He teaches us to be confident and not shy on stage" Dhur, Yr 4, Lambeth

Poetryclass: Inset Training for teachers

“It has reminded me how important poetry is for language and how to sneak poetry into other subjects.” Poetryclass: Reading Poetry, INSET evaluation form, July 2008

‘I will try to think about how to be more creative each day, each year’ Poetryclass INSET Evaluation form, 29th June 2010.

“It has reminded me how important poetry is for language and how to sneak poetry into other subjects.” Poetryclass: Reading Poetry, INSET evaluation form, July 2008

‘I will now be more confident at teaching poetry’ Poetryclass INSET Evaluation form, 29th June 2010.

‘Ideas gained for innovative and exciting poetry lessons.’ Poetryclass INSET Evaluation form, 29th June 2010.

 “I am more confident and have been able to gather a wide range of new/relevant teaching methods and a broad variety of accessible poems. Thank you very much.” Poetryclass: Reading Poetry, INSET evaluation form, July 2008 

“It gave me more ideas on how to make poetry fun.” Poetryclass: Reading Poetry, INSET evaluation form, July 2008 

“Inspired – can see how to use and facilitate poetry.” Poetryclass: Reading Poetry, INSET evaluation form, July 2008

“It’s given me confidence to go back and teach poetry more confidently and thinking about perhaps starting a poetry club.” Poetryclass: Reading Poetry, INSET evaluation form, July 2008 

“Inspiring to share poetry in so many different ways with other practitioners.” Poetryclass: Reading Poetry, INSET evaluation form, July 2008

‘This was a truly inspiring day. It was thoroughly enjoyable and also informative and user-friendly. I will highly recommend further work.’ Poetryclass INSET Evaluation form, Teachers as Writers seminar, 4th February 2008.

‘I will now be more confident of my own knowledge and understanding therefore benefitting my delivery and the children’s enjoyment.’ Poetryclass INSET Evaluation form, Teachers as Writers seminar, 4th February 2008.

‘Practised skill and enthusiasm from a talented teacher who  makes the hours fly… Highly recommended all round.’ Poetryclass INSET Evaluation form, Teachers as Writers seminar, 4th February 2008.

‘Confident to give it all a try. As a newly qualified teacher I was really anxious about poetry but am now quite exited.’ Poetryclass INSET Evaluation form, Teachers as Writers seminar, 4th February 2008.

‘It has certainly made me more confident as well as having given me some very practical ideas to help kick-start writing.’ Poetryclass INSET Evaluation form, Teachers as Writers seminar, 4th February 2008.

 ‘The ways we can use the ideas emerged compellingly’ Poetryclass INSET Evaluation form, 15thth February 2006. 

‘All great ideas for stimulating children to try poetry writing.’ Poetryclass INSET Evaluation form, 15thth February 2006.

‘Will definitely use most activities with my class’ Poetryclass INSET Evaluation form, 15thth February 2006.

‘I had a brilliant day with a lady who not only made me want to do more poetry writing with my class but perhaps start writing again myself. A most enjoyable, motivating day.’ Poetryclass INSET Evaluation form, 15thth February 2006.

‘Gave me confidence and time to try out a new skill. I didn’t think I could write poetry but discovered that I can.’ Poetryclass INSET Evaluation form, 15thth February 2006.

PLUS: Read further feedback from Poetry Society Members Here