Press Release: 2007

Foyle Young Poets unite in searching for a common multicultural identity and express concern for political betrayal. The 10th Anniversary of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award announced October 4th – National Poetry Day 2007

The 15 overall winners of the prestigious Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2007 reveal that young people in the UK and abroad are striving to unite with a universal common identity in a world beset with political betrayal and broken promises. These young minds show a wisdom beyond their years. To judge for yourselves, read all the winning poems here. For more about the 4th of October prize-giving event, go here.

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, is the number one poetry award for young people from 11-17, recognising and rewarding the brightest future stars of the poetry world. It was set up to help establish enthusiastic readers and writers of poetry. Previous winners include some of the best young poets writing today including Caroline Bird, Jay Bernard and Helen Mort.

Amongst last year’s winners was Adham Smart, a 14-year-old from London with his limerick about asylum seekers, and Emily Middleton, a 16 year old from Buxton with her powerful poem about a suicide bomber.

As part of the tenth anniversary celebrations all winners will be invited to attend a major award ceremony at The Unicorn Theatre in London on National Poetry Day (Thursday 4 October) where the winning poems will be read by William Seighart, Chairman of the Forward Group and actors  Michael Culkin, Walter Lewis and Laila Vakil. The winning poems will be published in a specially printed anthology which will be distributed nationally. The judges for this year are award-winning poets Daljit Nagra and Jo Shapcott.

This year again saw an unprecedented number of entries of an extremely high level – nearly 10,000 poems were entered for all over the world, and for the first time a large number of these entries were made via the web. The prize awards 15 overall winners and 85 runners-up.

The 15 winners receive a top prize of a course at the world-renowned Lumb Bank Arvon Centre, where they will be tutored by the two judges of the competition Daljit Nagra and Jo Shapcott. The winners in the 11-14 category each receive a visit to their school and one to one workshop session with one of the Poetry Society’s team of Poets in Schools. The prize attracts entries from all over the world including China and the US.

Whether uniting in a common universal identity:

“I am from a life filled with colour,
From the chocolate brown that is my skin.
I am from the sunshine yellow of my mother's laugh,
From the red and white of my brother's favourite football shirt.
I am from the crisp new white pages of a book”

(‘Where I'm From’, Melanie Poonai. Aged 15)

Or exposing broken political promises:

“T’was glorious, that triumphant sight!
The hearts o’the nation hath shone bright,
With hopes that the fearless Sir Blair might,
Put all the wrongs o’England right.

The dragon slain, the kingdom won,
Indeed hath Tony well begun,
And England hath rejoiced as one
When spake he thrice, “Education”

(‘The Tale of a Chivalrous and Gallant Knight’, Sarah Williams, Aged 16)

the 15 overall winners revealed that for young poets all over the world, poetry is a means of providing a voice in a world full of other distractions and noise – TV news, web and video games. It is proof that poetry can make itself heard above the din.

Dalgit Nagra, winner of the Forward Poetry Prize for best single poem and one of this year’s judges, commented on the 2007 entries:

“I came across many poems which showed young people thinking through poetry about the big issues of our age. There seemed to be a responsible articulation of global warming, the war in Iraq, and the West's exploitation of poor countries that spoke positively about the youth of today and the future of poetry.”

The award is made possible by The Foyle Foundation, which distributes grants to charitable organisations in the areas of Learning, Arts and Health. The award is administered by the Poetry Society ( More information about the award may be found at



 Notes to editors:

  • The tenth Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award (2007) will be presented at the Unicorn Theatre, 147 Tooley Street, London SE1 2HZ at 7pm on Thursday 4th October 2007. 
  •  The 15 winners of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2007 are:
Erica Berry (15), Portland, USA
Amy Blakemore (15), Deptford, London
Camilla Chen (15), Singapore
Arabella Currie (17), Oxford
Mengya Du (16), Durham
Charlotte Geater (17), Ipswich
Sophie Jih, (16) Troy, USA
Annie Katchinska (16) Bromley
Eleanor Kendrick  (16), Maidstone
Mark Maguire (13), Manchester
Emily Mercer (17), Skelmersdale, Lancs
Richard O'Brien (16), West Deeping, Lincs
Melanie Poonai (15), Harrow, Middlesex
Sarah Williams, (16) Hook, Hamps
Katie Willy (15), Tunbridge Wells, Kent
  • The full text of the winning poems is available. Please contact [email protected] or call 0207 420 9895.
  •  The Foyle Young Poets Award is sponsored by the Foyle Foundation. It meets two of the Foyle Foundation’s core criteria for support in Arts and Learning and in particular encourages creativity and literacy among young people at school. These are key success factors for young people to go through life. The Foundation is very keen to work with the Poetry Society to build on what has been achieved so far and to encourage more schools and young poets to become involved with the scheme nationwide.
  • The connection between Foyle and support for poets is long-standing. In 1949 William Foyle established the Foyle Prize for Poetry, awarding an annual prize of £250 – the largest prize then offered exclusively to poets.
  • The first judges included Cecil Day Lewis and the first winner was Edwin Muir for ‘The Labyrinth’. At the award ceremony William Foyle said, ‘For a long time I have always felt that a person who writes poetry should have far more encouragement ... it has always been my life’s ambition to award such a prize.”
  • The winning poems will be published in a tenth anniversary anthology. This will be available from the Poetry Society from March 2008.
  • To find out more about the Poetry Society telephone 020 7420 9880 or visit  For more information about the award please visit the website at:


Biogs for judges:

  • Jo Shapcott was one of the first ever judges of the Young Poets of the Year Awards, alongside Roger McGough in 1997. She teaches on the MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway and is also Visiting Professor in Poetry at the University of Newcastle and the University of the Arts, London. She is the current President of the Poetry Society. She won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for Best First Collection for Electroplating the Baby, the Forward Prize with My Life Asleep and has won the National Poetry Competition twice. Some of her poems were set to music by composer Stephen Montague in The Creatures Indoors, premiered by the London Symphony Orchestra in 1997.
  • Daljit Nagra won the Forward Poetry Prize for best single poem with 'Look We Have Coming to Dover!' in 2004. His debut collection of the same name was published by Faber in February 2007 and has been shortlisted once more this year for the Forward Poetry Prize, this time for the best first collection. His work has also been published in The Rialto, Poetry London and Poetry Review. He is currently an English teacher at JFS, Middlesex.