Schools Poetry Competition 2021

The University’s fifth Schools Poetry Competition has come to an end, and the winners from four Manchester schools have been announced.

The Centre for New Writing and Creative Manchester’s 2021 Schools Poetry competition took place from 21 March 2021 to 28 May 2021. The theme was space, and entries were received from school pupils across Greater Manchester.

The Creative Manchester and Centre for New Writing Schools Poetry Competition has been running annually since 2017. It is aimed at pupils from Greater Manchester schools and it encourages children to use poetry as a means of self-expression.

Each year, school pupils are invited to draft poems relating to a particular theme, with this year’s theme being space. After the initial drafts are submitted, PhD students from the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing deliver poetry clinics wherein the pupils redraft their poems. Pupils then submit their finished poems to the competition for a chance to win prizes.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and education remains impacted, the University recognises the importance of supporting pupil’s wellbeing and creative engagement and mirrored last year’s successful adaptation of the competition with a virtual model. This involved Centre for New Writing PhD students providing a detailed and thoughtful written critique for each pupil who submitted a poem, as an alternative to physical poetry clinics. 

Though fewer schools were able to participate in this year’s School Poetry Competition, we were blown away by the quantity and quality of the entries received.

Led by Professor of Poetry, John McAuliffe, an esteemed panel of judges awarded one overall school prize and several year group prizes to pupils from Whalley Range High School, Levenshulme High School, The East Manchester Academy and Burnage Academy.

The poems were assessed according to specific criteria. Primarily, the judges were looking for unique takes on the theme, effective imagery, innovative use of form, and creative command of language. 

A warm congratulations to all of the winners, but particularly to the overall school winners, who are as follows:

  • Yusra A from Whalley Range High School
  • Elizabeth S and Zainab M from Levenshulme High School
  • Deborah O from The East Manchester Academy
  • Alex H from Burnage Academy

On the competition, John McAuliffe said: “We love working with these creative schools, and it has been a pleasure to read and engage with the students and their inventive, ingenious and inspiring poems. Some of the students’ work was soulful, some of it very funny, and all of it smart and engaging. The poems, and the support we received from the teachers at the schools, showed the creative future of the city is in good hands.”

The positive impact of the competition was also reflected in feedback from the schools. Sajeda Amir from Levenshulme High said: “Our students have benefitted greatly by taking part in this creative writing competition. Given the constraints we have faced this year, any opportunity given to our students to be creative and have a chance to experience different avenues of cultural capital is wonderful and much appreciated by staff too.”

All eleven of the winning poems are being showcased on the Centre for New Writing’s website.

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