Young Foyle's Competition Award

We are very proud to announce that two students, Gabby (a former student) and Noemi (a current student), have received prestigious awards for their poems, which were selected to be in the top 100 2023 Foyle’s Young Poets of The Year Award, which is the most prestigious poetry award for young people. You can read copies of their poems attached below. They attended an exclusive event in London, at Shakespeare's Globe. 

Gabby shares her heartfelt and passionate reflections with us in the following article:

'Every year, the Poetry Society holds the Foyle’s Young Poets of the Year Award, for young poets around the world aged 11-17, and this year, I was lucky enough to have been selected as one of the 85 commended poets of 2023. Firmly established as one of the leading competitions for young people in the world, this was an incredible honour. Out of almost 16,000 entries, it felt almost unimaginable to have my poem chosen to be in the top 100. 

My poem, becoming, is an exploration of my relationship with my brother, and how simple interactions have shaped our understanding of one another. I wrote it originally as an exercise to practice metaphors (because I usually make my poetry too literal) but it shaped itself into a very honest piece, reflecting on a summer I remember spending at a children’s park with him just talking. I really wanted to get across the idea that no one will ever understand some things in quite the same way siblings do. Out of the two poems I submitted, I thought the other was better-written and more ‘profound’, on more serious themes like everyone always expects poetry to be about, so I was really surprised when I got the email and saw 'becoming' had been picked. 

The awards ceremony was held in London on 5th October at Shakespeare’s Globe, where I got to meet the other 99 winners. It was a surreal experience; I suddenly found myself surrounded by other young people my age, who shared my love of poetry, and were all equally excited about being there. I was in awe of the talent in the room, especially of the top 15 winners, who we were lucky enough to hear read their poems out to us – my particular favourites crafted poetry of things I never imagined could become poetry, and made me realise I’d barely even begun to scratch the surface at what could be expressed in poetry with my own work. Every piece was startlingly original, with a voice unique to the poet, much unlike anything I’d heard before. It became something of a joke amongst us that afternoon, as we congratulated each other, that we were surrounded by the English-speaking world’s most talented poets (some winners had flown in from as far as India and the United States to attend the ceremony). I remember being struck by the realisation that we were all just normal people, feeling incredibly lucky to have been chosen. I made many friends whom I’ve kept in contact with since. 

It was a really inspiring event. I’ve been entering the competition for years, encouraged by my English teachers who cultivated a love of poetry in me. There was a time in my life where I was struggling with a lot of personal things and my concentration in school was slipping, and it was poetry that helped me express myself and find words for a lot of what I was going through. I still reread to this day the book of poetry my English teacher at the time, Miss Akcay, gifted me as a goodbye when I left the school, and at the time it meant a lot to me that I was seen and encouraged to keep pursuing writing, even if I wasn’t very good back then. I would’ve given up a long time ago if it wasn’t for this, and looking back, I’m really glad I never stopped trying. 

I never expected to win – I entered as a way to motivate myself to write my best, and I think my writing has benefited enormously from the experience. To anyone out there with a love of poetry, no matter if you’ve just started writing and want to get into it more or have enjoyed it for years, I’d definitely recommend giving the competition a shot and entering. It’s free, and open to poems of any theme or length. I plan on entering again next year, motivated to try to write something deserving of the top 15 prize as it will be the last year I am able to enter (I’m turning 17 soon).  

To anyone hoping to enter, good luck! It’s not as impossible as I once thought to be recognised!'

We warmly congratulate both Noemi and Gabby for their brilliant achievements. 

Miss Ackay - English Department