Prize Giving to the “Poets of Tomorrow”

By Georgia Penrose

Family and friends of the young competitors for the Charles Causley Young People’s and Children’s poetry, the Sir James Smith Cluster Creative Writing and the Sense of Place primary schools’ poetry competition flooded into the marquee, full of excitement and eager to receive their prizes. The budding writers filled the front rows of seats and could be heard speaking amongst themselves about what prizes they would be receiving and whether or not they think they could be first prize winners.

Novelist Patrick Gale introduced well-known poet Alyson Hallett who began the Prize Giving event by welcoming the young writers, naming them ‘The Poets of tomorrow, the future of poetry.’ The children were squirming on their chairs, becoming more impatient by the second, made worse by Alyson Hallett’s readings of one of her own poem before which she apologised to the audience ‘I’m sorry, I’m sure you’re keen to find out what prizes you have won. We’ll just take this as the drum roll,’ and began to read.

As soon as the words ‘We’re now going to start the prize announcements’ were said, family, friends and the young writers themselves shot up in their chairs and suddenly the marquee had an excited but nervous atmosphere. Each winner would read their poem aloud at the front of the marquee before being handed their prize – a book, a North Cornwall book festival sweatshirt and a bag full of other ‘surprises’ for them to enjoy. The room erupted with applause, congratulations and smiles from proud families as each child returned to their seat.

Before each announcement, Alyson was sure to give each contestant a brilliant drum roll. The winners, who were cheered on by their school friends, proudly stood at the front of the marquee, ready to receive their gifts. There were a number of third, second and first place prize winners:

Junior Winners; 3rd – Lily-Anne Maudsley, 2nd – Elsie Vivian and 1st – Andrea Bluboaca.

Senior Winners; 3rd – Joint place: Erin Sadler and Tommy Japes, 2nd – Alicia Foster and 1st – Kerys Price.

Radio dramatist, prose writer and children’s poet Chrissie Gittins was presenting the prizes for the North Cornwall Primary Schools’ Sense of Place competition, as much of her own work is similarly based around nature and the countryside. Winners from Delabole Community Primary school, Tintagel Primary School and Wadebridge Primary Academy were:

3rd – Rosie Fletcher, 2nd – Niamh Jones and 1st – Charlie Gilmore.

Prior to the prize announcement, I had the chance to speak to first prize winner, 10-year-old Charlie Gilmore from Wadebridge Primary Academy. Charlie told me that he was chosen for the competition by a poet in London, who then passed his name on to Chrissie, and then was given the opportunity to write the poem. Although he didn’t get to choose his topic, Charlie made sure to say that writing the poem about the Camel River in Wadebridge ‘made me really use my imagination and think about the river differently. When I go past it now, I think that it is really majestic and beautiful, and I just think how lucky we are to have it running through our town,’ he explained. It took Charlie around four weeks to write the poem, however he didn’t find that a problem due to his passion for writing. ‘It just travels me to a new world and it feels really nice.’

The event ended with all the prize winners having their photo taken in the sun by parents, friends, bloggers and newspapers. The children were soon to visit the bookshop to buy themselves some additional souvenirs to remember this fantastic experience at the North Cornwall Boo