Opportunities for Young Writers

and resources for people working with young writers

I’m very excited to be working with St Gregory’s Catholic College, Bath, as Writer in Residence for the next academic year.  I’ve already been into school to meet with some of the staff and to decide where to set up camp.  I’m really looking forward to meeting students when they return to school, or start for the first time, next week.  I’ve begun to plan some writing activities and I’ve been researching poems about ‘Freedom’ which is the theme for this year’s National Poetry Day (which takes place on Thursday 28th September), which I hope lots of students and staff at St Gregory’s will take part in.

I thought I’d begin to compile a list of competitions and organisations which might be of interest to writers of secondary school age – 11 to 18 – and I’ll add to this list as time goes on. Please get in touch with further suggestions.  I’ll keep adding to this page as I find more resources so check back from time to time to see if there’s anything new.

The wonderful Poetry Foundation has published what looks like a fantastic collection of resources for teachers working with young people of all ages.  And here is a page at the Scottish Poetry Library which is full of lesson plans, poems, ideas and resources.  Aimed at teachers, there’s nothing to stop young people availing themselves of this poetry treasure!

Some poetry competitions that I know of are Foyle Young Poets of the Year (deadline 31/7/17) and the Tower Poetry Competition (next competition in 2018).  I’ve just discovered the Betjeman Poetry Prize which has a great website.  I’ve been sent news of The National Schools Poetry Competition for writers aged 7 – 18.  The judges are looking for poems about ‘Peace’ and the winning entry will be set to music and recorded by a professional singer.

Foyle Young Poets Comp: Winning poems are published in an anthology

An excellent website to visit regularly is Young Poets Network.  Although aimed at younger writers, I find these challenges really helpful and interesting for myself! It’s run by The Poetry Society who describe the site as an

online platform  for young poets up to the age of 25. Here you’ll find features about poets and poetry, challenges and competitions to inspire your own writing, new writing from young poets, and advice and guidance from the rising and established stars of the poetry world.

Sign up for fortnightly updates from Young Poets Network.

The BBC Writers Room is a good site for people of all ages if you’re interested in writing for radio, TV or film.  Earlier this year you could apply for the BBC Young Writers Award.

I’d like to end by saying how moved and inspired I was by this article written by Kate Clanchy about her work as a writer in the Oxford Spires Academy.  I’ve also really enjoyed reading work written by her students which Kate has posted on Twitter.   I will be looking for ways to share work written by St Gregory’s students when I can and I hope to be able to share with you some of my experiences as St Gregory’s Writer in Residence.

Wishing everyone a happy week!

2 thoughts on “Opportunities for Young Writers

  1. cmoskowitz says:

    Hi Josephine. Congratulations, that’s wonderful news!

    I’ve been Poet in Residence at Highfield Primary School (www.highfieldprimary.co.uk) for the past three years with amazing results. It is a school with a hugely diverse pupil population, over fifty different nationalities and languages spoken. I work with staff and the wider school community as well as the pupils and their families. I try to keep a regular watch out for writing opportunities and competitions open to young people so I’m happy to correspond with you about all that. To date children from Highfield have won several national competitions including ReWrite/Wiener Library (on war and peace), Poetryzone, Enfield Poetry competition on the Magna Carta, Buxton Young Poets competition, Stephen Spender Prize for Poetry Translation and have twice been selected as winners of the CliPPA Schools Shadowing scheme performing at the National Theatre and were invited to perform at the Southbank as part of last year’s National Poetry Day Live on the theme of ‘Messages’. Poetry has become an integral part of these children’s lives which is completely wonderful to see. I’m so glad that other schools are seeing the light and appointing resident poets like yourself. I agree, Kate Clanchy’s work at Oxford Spires is truly excellent and very moving.

    You can watch a film about the first year of my residency at Highfield here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpR_bN2FXFQ&feature=youtu.be and see updates about what is happening poetry-wise on the ‘Poetry Corner’ section of the School website here: http://www.highfieldprimary.co.uk/poetry-corner/
    Particularly moving is this recent film/recording of poems written by children from Highfield newly arrived to the country last year, expressing what it is like to have to leave your home country: https://vimeo.com/231870425?utm_source=email&utm_medium=vimeo-cliptranscode-201504&utm_campaign=29220

    For this year’s National Poetry Day on October 1st some children from Highfield will be taking part alongside 60 other poets at Dugdale Centre in in this poem-a-thon to raise money for Enfield Refugee Welcome and the Vulnerable Children Resettlement Scheme https://www.dugdalecentre.co.uk/news/poetry-to-change-lives/

    Poetry really can change lives and young people should be right at the centre of that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josephine Corcoran says:

      Thanks so much for sharing all of this information, Cheryl! Wow, what fantastic fruits your residency has produced. As I’m also a playwright and short story writer (and blogger!), I’m going to working on different projects with students, depending on their interests. Of course, I hope there will be much interest in poetry. I think National Poetry Day is 28 September this year – a change from previous years. I’d definitely like to keep in touch and will no doubt be coming to you for advice before long. Thanks again and warm regards, Josephine 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

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