Press Release: 7 October 2008

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2008 winners – Anthems for an inspired youth

The winners of The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2008, announced today, National Poetry Day, not only indicate the amazing quality of poetry being written by young people, but also what pertinent and valuable commentators on the world these young writers are – providing insightful and highly individual perceptions of social, political and personal issues.

There is a real sense of this individuality in the way that the poems explore similar themes, but in very different ways.

One of these themes is identity, such as in Bethan Crossley’s gleefully exaggerated and tender look at regional stereotypes:

" I love it when I get called “r kid” in that synonymous Northern drawl
 And seeing old men, with the mandatory bags of chips coming from the pub crawl
 All night spent in working men’s clubs as restrictive as the abdominal wall
 And with Liam and Noel, can anyone wonder why the North will always be
 my first port of call."
'Northern Soul' by Bethan Crossley, aged 17

And then the more insidious look at how an identity can be imposed by misperception:

"Geez, u think its
Boy against brotha,
Girl against motha,
Friend against otha
You're dead!
‘Nuff said...
And all cos i talk lyk dis…"
'I Talk Lyk Dis' by Chinedum Nwokonkor, aged16


Death was another subject that was approached from very differing angles.  From the very graphic:

"But when the airliner hits the ground.
It forms a big black mound.
I would always have remembered you, Tonton André,
From when you lived at vingt rue Amiral Bouvet"
'Tonton André' by Marin Cramer, aged 13

To the subtle revelation of death:

"How you listened but
did not understand
as they talked
about who would mow
the lawns now?
And how much bluer
Agapanthus was
When Harry was alive."
'Other People’s Gardens' by Charlotte Trevella, aged16

The 15 overall winning poems show that young people are not an indistinguishable mass of silence, surliness and stereotype, but individuals with their own unique way of seeing and portraying the world around them.  Poet Ian McMillan, who was one of the judges this year along with Eva Salzman, explains this further: “Judging the competition confirmed what I already suspected: that the future of poetry is in safe hands with these young people, who tackle writing with a dazzling mixture of confidence and cool!”

The 15winners are:

· Erica Berry  from the USA, aged 16
· Amy Blakemore from London, aged 17
· Jennifer Clarke from Leicester, aged 17
· Marin Cramer from London, aged 13
· Bethan Crossley from Leeds, aged 17
· Madelaine Jones from Kent, aged 17
· Emma Jourdan from London, aged 17
· Michael Kalisch from Exeter, aged 17
· Sawsan Khalaf from United Arab Emirates, aged 16
· Abigail Maskill from Halifax, aged 15
· Chinedum Nwokonkor from London, aged 16
· Adham Smart from London, aged 16
· Sophie Stephenson-Wright from London, aged 17
· Charlotte Trevella from New Zealand, aged 16
· Andrew Wynn Owen from Kent, aged 15

You can read the poems by all 15 overall winners at

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award is supported by the Foyle Foundation and administered by The Poetry Society.

- Ends -


Notes to editors

  • The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award was announced today, National Poetry Day, 9 October, at the Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre, SE1.  It’s the only international poetry prize which looks for young poetry talent of the future.  There are two prizes for the fifteen overall winners.  The 15-17 year-olds will get the chance to attend a week long residential course at The Hurst in Shropshire one of the prestigious Arvon Centres, where they will be tutored by this year’s judges, Ian McMillan and Eva Salzman. The younger age range winners (11-14 years old) will receive a visit to their school from a professional poet and an individual coaching session.
  •  Ian McMillan has been a poet, broadcaster, commentator and programme-maker for over 20 years. He founded Versewagon (later re-named Circus of Poets), a performance poetry group with John Turner and Martyn Wiley, and reads his work in schools, arts centres, prisons and at literary festivals. He appears regularly on television and radio and currently hosts The Verb on BBC Radio 3… For a full biog visit .
  • Eva Salzman grew up in Brooklyn and on Long Island where she was a dancer/choreographer.  Her work has frequently been broadcast on BBC radio, and she has read her poetry at the Royal Festival Hall, the Barbican, The Poetry Society, Troubadour and at festivals all over the UK, as well as in Ireland, Spain and France… For a full biog visit .
  • The Foyle Young Poets of the Year 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 young people both in and out of formal education to become involved with the scheme nationwide.
  • The Poetry Society will celebrate its Centenary in 2009.  To find out more about The Poetry Society visit