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Foyle Young Poets of the Year: Lines written by 15 poets of the future

A new group of poets aspiring to be a modern-day Keats or TS Eliot will be unveiled on Thursday to mark National Poetry Day. The winners of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award – the world’s biggest poetry contest – have been chosen from 7,478 entries from 75 countries.

Here, The Independent exclusively reveals their work

Lamorna Tregenza Reid, 12, Penzance

She was inspired to write after finding her grandmother’s poetry books in the attic, which included  DH Lawrence. This was written in response to his poem Piano. She enjoys netball and running.

Notes on a Piano

In the candlelight of a foreign house
A woman serenades Mozart, Strauss
She caresses her instrument’s fading keys
Llike she caresses the child who sits on her knee.

In the speckled light of a tree-strewn yard
A man sheds a tear to the strains of Die Nacht.
He plants a lily, as fragile as bone
Like his mother’s kisses by the piano at home.

Catriona Bolt, 17,  Bury St Edmunds

Writing has “been an increasingly important part of life” since she started as a five-year-old captivated by Harry Potter. She describes  TS Eliot as her “poet boyfriend” but Shakespeare as the literary “love of her life”. Catriona wants to study English at university, and when not writing likes to play the flute and sing.

The Eloquent Crane

Crystalline air and shadows surround the haiku of my wingbeat
opening to call a harshening cry on the echoing air.

Jessica Walker, 17, Cockermouth

She got into poetry through the blogging site Tumblr last year. “I found the writing on there incredibly honest and magically raw,” she says. Jessica likes Charles Bukowski, Edgar Allan Poe and Keats, as well as more contemporary poets like Andrea Gibson and Simon Armitage. She runs a literary magazine at her school and is learning Italian.

Fox Chase

It was then that two foxes would push their whiskered faces through hedges
dancing into the frosted garden
caught between snowflakes and the waning moonlight
red stained tails tipped with white...

Imogen Cassels, 17, Sheffield

She cannot remember why she started writing poetry, but suspects that reading Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood  at primary school had something to do with it. Among her favourites are Simon Armitage, ee cummings, James Fenton, and Wendy Cope. She enjoys playing the clarinet, speaking French, eating chocolate, and the company of her rabbit, Oscar.


The nest that halved itself against the wall
the tightly woven sticks and clay of love, or instinct.
The swallows: quick, sweet shadows that forked and lit over the beam...

Jennifer Burville Riley, 14, Sevenoaks

Won the John Betjeman Poetry Prize in 2011, and says she has “a passion” for Shakespeare, admiration for the “creative genius” of Matthew Bourne and an “obsession” with the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone.

Caution To The Woodsman

Oh foolish woodsman, the whispering reeds are not sharing their secrets
but shooing you, shooing you far from this place.
See how the  tar-black pools deny your inquisitive eyes,
concealing their treasures possessively with a mirrored shield of silvered sky...

Emma Lister, 16, Devon

She learnt to read when she was two and “started writing poetry as a serious activity” at secondary school. The A-level student enjoys photo-blogging and learning languages – Icelandic, Italian, Russian and Spanish – as well as reading Rilke, Sexton, Plath and Neruda.

Love Is A Knife With Which I Explore Myself

I marry my husband on a day that does not exist.
He has  Song-of-Solomon eyes a bright, forgiving mouth – a kissing mouth.
The birds watch from the walls when I forget to speak...

Magnus Dixon, 12, Aberdeenshire

He loves sailing and “inherited a love of language and poetry” from his family. Magnus plays the cello and enjoys folk music. He likes Simon Armitage and Benjamin Zephaniah.

I am

Who sees the waves race to the pier
the surge of a gust darkening the liquid turquoise sea;
the boat heeling, pushed by the wind’s giant hand
Who hears the gentle creaking of the boom,
the cawing of indignant seagulls chased off a picnic
and the rumbling engines of a Peterhead trawler as it leaves port...

Phoebe Stuckes, 17, Minehead

She started writing poetry five years ago. This is the fourth time she has been chosen as one of the Foyle young poets. She has performed at the Ledbury Poetry Festival and the Poetry Cafe in Convent Garden. Her favourite poets are Don Paterson, Sylvia Plath and Allen Ginsberg. She likes punk music and “eating too many biscuits”.


Enough of pulling off high heels to run
Or else waiting alone in unclaimed ugliness.
No more crying out for guitar heroes
Or going back to old loves for the safety.

Dominic Hand, 18, Oxford

Currently finishing A-levels and applying to study English at university. Dominic has written poetry since he was 14 and is influenced by Hopkins, Ted Hughes, Wallace Stevens and Jorie Graham. He is interested in European poetry, and has translated works by Rilke, Desnos and Baudelaire. He plays guitar, composes music, and paints.

An Interior Scene

How lines structure these receding rooms
their polished floors and divided halls
is how light fractures in their passages.
Apertures divide the corridors:
every angle strung to a balanced hold...

Laura Harray, 13, London

Began writing when she was five. Her story The Journey was  published in 2012 as a winner of the Daunt Books Children’s Short Story Competition. As well as writing, she enjoys netball, swimming, rowing, ballet and debating, and is a keen historian. Laura plans to become a barrister and a writer.


I knew the night; its velvet, its silk and its satin
The stars and the sky were my brothers
and the gentle winds my comforter.
It was my paradise, that place where two worlds met as with ends of a string...

Esme Partridge, 16, Oxford

Has “big views and big hair” and has “loved reading and writing for as long as I can remember”. She got into poetry three years ago after Kate Clanchy visited her school. She also acts in school productions and plays the violin. Her religion plays a part in her writing. “I am a Christian and I aim to keep my faith at the centre of everything I am.”

I took God with me camping

This is a woolly hat, a hoodie
wellies that I haven’t removed since Thursday.
These are four folding chairs
arranged in a neat circle.

And above us, God, are all your stars.

Ian Burnette, 17, South Carolina

He discovered poetry through “a particularly inspiring teacher” at the residential arts school he attends. “For me, poetry is an avenue into danger and vehicle of my eventual salvation. This is why I love poetry more than anything,” he says. He plays classical piano and acts.

Dutch Baby

In the bakery, my girl grips a pregnancy test
like a pistol in her pocket. The baker hands her the key to the restroom and leaves.
In the back there’s a small window
where he watches men and women and children –I don’t mind
I’ve learned I can’t protect anyone by now

Caroline Harris, 16, California

Silicon Valley is a “lonely place to be a poet,” according to Caroline, who composed her first sonnet during a “dull” maths class. She writes a  fiction column for her school newspaper and enjoys singing, playing the piano, debating, and skiing.


I grew up in a town with crumbling houses of burning coals and crimson embers. The avenue where I lived always flooded during summer storms. Even the picket fences and closed gates shook, water like moonshine under an iridescent sky...

Ila Colley, 17, Kendal

Admits to feeling “very unpoetic” but aims to achieve “a permanent state of poetry. Or better, a permanent state of sleep. Or better, both.” She adds: “Until this day she’ll spend her time reading, eating malt loaf, lis- tening to music and avoiding writing about herself in the third person.”


Your doughy fists navigate through space
Orchestrated, the world seems to fold through the lines you dictate.
Darling, tell me why and how! I’m teasing you, more than you understand, so stand up for yourself. Soon you’ll conduct
Language, I’ll breathe it into you...

Grace Campbell, 17, Edinburgh

Grace has “written compulsively” from a young age but only began attempting to write poetry as a teenager. She is influenced by Dylan Thomas, Anna Akhmatova, Rilke and Virginia Woolf, and wants to study English at university. She likes drawing, travelling and films.


The swing park creaks, water glazed
the river green and glutted, robbing corroded banks of earth. I have followed the river, seen it empty out into a saltwater estuary
beneath leaves like arrow tips or green lozenges shuddering under the violence of the downpour...