Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The John Betjeman Young People's Poetry Competition 2009

The John Betjeman Young People's Poetry Prize is now in its third year. The competition was inaugurated in 2006 to celebrate the centenary of one of the nation's best-loved poets. The competition is open to 11-14 year olds living anywhere in the British Isles and the Republic of Ireland. Entrants are limited to one poem each about their local surroundings or any aspect thereof, whether it be a house, a street, a garden, a park, a city or a wider landscape. The spirit behind the competition is to encourage young people to understand and appreciate the importance of place.The inaugural prize was presented by the Poet Laureate Andrew Motion to 12-year-old Jamal Msebele in front of a packed congregation at the church of St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol. Since then Jamal Msebele has been a guest on Radio 4 and has become quite a star. Following its success, John Murray (Publishers) have offered an annual prize of £1000 (£500 to the winner and £500 to the English department of their school). The winning poems for the 2007 competition were announced at a special poetry event at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature, where a sell-out crowd heard the poems read by leading actors including Edward Fox, Phyllida Law and Daniel Stephens.If you would like to enter this year's competition, please download the entry form. For all enquiries, please contact the prize's administrator Justin Gowers (email:

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