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Foyle Young Poets of the Year Anthology

“Foyle was what encouraged me to think of myself as a poet – I honestly don't know what I would have done without it.” Phoebe Stuckes, five-time winner of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award

Foyle Young Poets of the Year Anthology The Poetry Society, 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX ISBN: 978-1-900771-94-8. Cover: James Brown, © The Poetry Society & authors, 2016

The Wolves of Normality Poems by the Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2015

Acknowledgements The Poetry Society is deeply grateful to the Foyle Foundation for their generous funding and also to Arts Council England for its ongoing support. We would also like to thank Bloodaxe, Carcanet Press, Divine Chocolate, Faber and Faber, Forward Arts Foundation, Frances Lincoln, Inpress Books, Pan Macmillan, Picador, PN Review, Poems on the Underground, tall-lighthouse and Walker Books for continuing to provide prizes for the Award. We are delighted to welcome as a new supporter, Snopake Ltd. Our gratitude goes out to our judges Liz Berry and Michael Symmons Roberts for their passion and enthusiasm in helping to make the 2015 competition such a success. We are delighted to welcome Malika Booker and W.N. Herbert as judges for the 2016 competition. We thank Arvon for hosting the Foyle Young Poets’ residency with commitment and expertise and Southbank Centre, London, for hosting the prize-giving ceremony. Our thanks go out to Marcus Stanton Communications for their hard work in raising awareness of the competition, and our network of educators and poets across the UK for helping us to inspire so many young writers to engage with poetry. We thank commended Foyle Young Poet of the Year 2015 Aisha Mango Borja for the title of this anthology, from her poem ‘Resolution’. Finally, we applaud the enthusiasm and dedication of the young people and teachers who make the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award the great success it is today.


Contents Introduction Riona Millar Allie Spensley Sophia Tait Maud Mullan Kajol Marathe Ella Standage Sophia Carney Ben Read Jack Sagar Magnus Dixon Gaia-Rose Harper Apollo Ian Macartney Eira Murphy Jonathan Stone

4 Mr Grenway baby grand Two ways of painting the picture Locket Number 9 in Love retrograde How to be a patriot Mario Kart: Brain Circuit Furnishings Compass-Point Lullabies for Emily Columbia Calling ...___... The Snails Move Out MRI Pbft

6 8 10 11 12 14 15 16 18 20 21 22 24 25 26

List of commendations Foyle Foundation & The Poetry Society Opportunities for young writers Resources for schools Enter the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2016

28 29 30 31 32

2016 entry form


Introduction “Foyle Young Poets has become an essential institution, a way of discovering and developing the next generation of poets.” Michael Symmons Roberts, 2015 judge Welcome to the winners’ anthology of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2015. Founded by The Poetry Society in 1998, the competition has been supported by the Foyle Foundation since 2001 and is now firmly established as the key award for young poets aged between eleven and seventeen years. Every year we find and celebrate the very best young writers from across the world. This year’s competition attracted a remarkable 12,288 poems from 5,846 young poets across sixty-nine countries. Poems came in from as far afield as Trinidad and Tobago, South Korea, Iraq and Malawi. This anthology features the winning poems from the top 15 Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2015 and names the 85 commended poets. For the first time, we are also publishing an online anthology of the commended poets’ writing, available from our website. The quality of entries was this year, as ever, world class, and judges Liz Berry and Michael Symmons Roberts had their work cut out selecting the winners. The winning poems wrestle with identity in all its guises, from national to personal to that of artificial intelligence. Liz applauded the winning poets for a “liveliness and freshness that captured our attention immediately”, and Michael praised the “quality of risk and surprise”.


With such fierce global competition, to be selected by the judges as one of the top 100 is a truly impressive achievement. The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award has kick-started the careers of some of today’s most exciting new voices. This year alone Sarah Howe was awarded the T.S. Eliot Prize, Andrew Wynn Owen was awarded an Eric Gregory Award, Luke Samuel Yates won the Poetry Business Book & Pamphlet Competition, and Jasmine Simms was named as one of the New North Poets. The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award is a career-defining moment for many of its winners and The Poetry Society continues to support winners via publication, performance and internship opportunities. All of our winners receive one year’s youth membership of The Poetry Society, a range of book prizes and goodies from our partner publishers and companies, and ongoing support and encouragement from The Poetry Society. The top 15 poets are invited to attend a week’s residential creative writing course at Arvon’s Shropshire centre, The Hurst, or receive a poet residency in their school followed by distance mentoring. The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award also incorporates a year-round programme of activity aimed at encouraging creativity and literacy in schools. We produce inspiring teacher resources and identify Teacher Trailblazers who share their passion and expertise for teaching poetry. We also offer free poet-led workshops to a number of Applauded Schools, to reward their continuing commitment to the Award. We hope you enjoy reading the poems in this anthology and that they inspire many more poets to enter in 2016. Happy reading!

Riona Millar Mr Grenway A lodger of mysterious trade has inhabited the attic in my head. He plays swing music on tuesday evenings and waltzes, just to wake the dead. A man of rigorous, decorous, satin grace; he deposits leaves in library books. He visits the woman in apartment 42, who keeps my scarves, and dreams on hooks.


He sings through the floorboards, but hasn’t paid his rent in 16 weeks. He never complains about the dripping thoughts that tap, through thick-taped brain leaks. He whispers into pianos at half-midnight (but, never quite keeps me awake).


Allie Spensley baby grand my father showed me how a piano could cleave a room like a fault line, how a dance could keep you deathless: the eighty-eight teeth in a piano’s mouth chewing up strips of sheet music like so many pieces of bubblegum. my father had pounded his fingers into skeleton keys and molded their locks out of smooth ebony and ivory. he wore ragtime like a coat and sipped jazz like hot tea with lemon and spice, danced his way across the underground platform because there was a sort of music written on his bones, notes wrapped like handcuffs around his wrists, rhythms coursing through his syncopated veins. his piano was his cross and he bore it through windy city december, from hubbard street down to west belmont, his face reflecting neon light, his body buzzing with the notes of the trumpets like a hot vibrato on his skin. my father’s only altar was a midnight jazz joint; music was his finest language so I couldn’t blame him if he cursed arpeggios all up


and down our kitchen walls, couldn’t blame him if his magic fingers twisted in my mother’s hair to make music that was sour as a dying trombone, couldn’t blame his “please, i’m trying to practice, just leave me alone, my music, i’m sorry, my music.”


Sophia Tait Two ways of painting the picture ultrarealism There is a tall, straight vase on the table full of yellow-topped orange tulips. Two are tall, but one of those is bent over the edge of the vase, dwarfing itself. Three stand at medium height together, with a small one tucked around the back, and another, still smaller, in the very middle. Rennie Mackintosh roses are drawn in frosted white glass on one side of the thin vase, their curving angles intertwining. The water, misted with much-diluted flower food, supports the slightly curved, soft, and slender, pale-green stems. impressionism Pink-orange cups, coloured like a sorbet, or a sunset, or rosy-tinted autumn trees, full of yellow that’s overflowed, staining the petals; supported by slim, satiny, light-streaked stems, curved like a swan’s elegantly long neck – but mute swans, since the wide-open flowers appear to be singing, but no sound comes out. They’re all different heights, like a family, perhaps, with their baby, trimmed tiny, nestled in the middle. The sharp angles of the tall, thin vase, with the strange triangularity of its up-down edges, gently echo the slightly softer lines of the roses etched onto the glass by a permanent Jack Frost. 10

Maud Mullan Locket Too clumsy to ever wear. Thick, irregular ellipse. Clasp, hook, eyelet for the chain, wide enough to put an eye to. White tally marks where the catch has missed, Where the man opened, closed, and opened Seeing his face, her face, over and over, for the first time. May, 1915, they sent back the box. His watch, three bundled love poems, Her locket. String in a double bow, paper uncreased, Mud still sitting in the links of chain. Round in the hand, weighing as much as an egg, and warm with the heartbeat, a secret in two ovals of brown paper. Snake eyes of tarnish, Yosemite hot springs In photonegative. Victorian reliquary, Hiding place in plain view, hollow as a steel drum. Wrought rope coils bang against the sternum. Lips, fingers, Touches – linger, come away with tastes Of coins, blood, doorknobs. The woman stands in silhouette, in gaslight, folding loops of hair. Her clock, her breathing and the click and skipped beat as catch closes, opens, misses.


Kajol Marathe Number 9 in Love By far the greatest danger of Artificial Intelligence is that people conclude too early that they understand it. – Eliezer Yudkowsky Warped, I wore titanium where, my fallacious tin ribs, enclosed a feather-weight heart. The start – I slept silhouetting flames in the night-sky, called stars. Next, rummaged in garbage bins, fell in lust with galvanised aluminium. Steel, methyl rose. I learnt love, through textbooks, stolen from the creatures with two legs, and beating, gasping hearts. Devoured scripture whole, and regurgitated New Testaments, spitting the pages, spawning fire-flies into autumn air. I tongued elephant juice, to cyclists in Central Park, who ran, aghast, clutched their kids with mortuary grasps.


I soon fell away, gasoline torched my metalloid frame. When they found me they took photos, plastered me on billboards, and sold me for spare parts.


Ella Standage retrograde tonight the streets are swamped in blue. it settles on our skin, delicate, and feather light – (i don’t believe in a higher power but god, this is divine) the only noise audible is the soft intake and exhalation of air. our language is one of motion: you don’t say anything but i can hear (the gradient of your voice sloping downwards) the swaying undertones, the simple words unsaid. somehow, this silence is lyrical, surrounding from all sides our harmony while (here; a pulsing rhythm beneath your skin) our fingers intertwine in the dark.


Sophia Carney How to be a patriot 1. Plate your pain with reinforced steel; fit it with tire treads and arm it with the revolver you keep in the kitchen cabinet next to the Coco Pops. 2. Exhibit your pride; curate it like a museum display. Soak the constitution in formaldehyde that sticks the imperatives to the page. Program the X-ray machine at the door to record the shade of the visitors’ skin in hexadecimal. 3. Press the flag flat. Turn it to a freeze-frame between two Perspex sheets labelled DO NOT TOUCH. 4. Neglect to mention the pixels of blood that appear under UV light and human scrutiny. 5. Freedom is a word that begins and ends on your display case. The amendments to its meaning read like the list of ingredients in a Big Mac.


Ben Read Mario Kart: Brain Circuit Sitting on the couch with you, I tell you I want to go inside your brain and dance. Maybe the pink twists and turns look like a race track, circles and switchbacks and Mario Kart characters like the ones we drive around Peach Gardens in little go karts but now, I’ll get out and tread lightly, buoyantly, on the garden walkway underneath rose arches of neurotransmitters like cello string synapses, reaching up to take a single petal, curved and cupped where it could be filled with creek water or tea, and I sip from it while I watch neurons float by, sparking clouds, lightning ideas and I’ll find Anxiety in a river of norepinephrine and he’ll offer me a refill, smirking. I’ll challenge him to a race, because he looks like Bowser, capturing princesses in his castle of cortexes and amygdalas, moats of cranial fluid,


halls filled with mushrooms and shells, stars glinting as we start speeding around them, and I fall back then pull ahead, your smiles like rainbow box powerups and on the final lap, I’m getting closer and closer to you, at the checkered flag, in a tinted pink sundress that lets the light pass through and touch your skin eradicating shadows as I kiss you on your tiptoes, electricity coursing through speedways and our veins.


Jack Sagar Furnishings I want to ‘pick’ out a wardrobe with someone, anyone who will take me and all my bow ties and pairs of worn-out sweatpants. Mahogany sunshine sounds like a spirit to me, or the final high that him and I can try once and forget, like all the times we were grounded. Brass doorknobs we can turn, unlock together and look inside into blank space in which we will grow. Someday he’ll laugh and say that the tatty, toiled thing should be thrown away and then we will argue for days. I’ll sit inside and want not to cry, lie beside the jeans that fit him too well and they share a hanger with mine too.


His football boots and my shirts, ties for tenderly teaching philosophy to those who’re yet to buy furniture. Cuff links from our wedding day, night-time dreams matched in no shirts and cushy, cocoa-stained flannel shorts. I’ll call him and be honest, “Honey, we can lose our wardrobe as long as we keep what’s inside.”


Magnus Dixon Compass-Point Lullabies for Emily North Someone re-threads a fishing rod by torchlight then re-beads the line with Ugie droplets. Later he reels in floundering silver – wraps it in newspaper then walks homewards. East Waves crack their knuckles on shadowed sea-walls and suck their teeth through rust-ribbed lobsterpots. At the sailing club, sails dry into the night. A woman closes shutters like oak eyelids. South Instead of milk-pails, men pile up oil-drums to blot the moon. Their hearts tick in time to the spattering pipelines and rain on hard-hats. They shine torches on skeins instead of helicopters. West Combine harvesters hum into the night – spitting stems in wake across rutted earth. Sparrows chorus with the farmer’s whistles. They guide him home, flitting between branches.


Gaia-Rose Harper Columbia Calling With death comes rebirth, and like all lovers and sad people, I am a poet. – Spoken by Allen Ginsberg in the film Kill Your Darlings Wrap me in your 20 bar concerto, o wondrous one, o being fuelled by musky nights and caffeine and nicotine and smoked lips. Nitrous, oxidised, trip through sliced palms and Hudson river beds and disagreement, and photographs. O Kammerer, thy long forgotten affidavit of 1944. Envisage me in your escapades o artist, o measurer of time with each cigarette, each ashen whisper. Again and again.


Apollo ...___... Arina Petrova is a hypothesis. She is stardust. Melted chocolate. She dances on the dark side of the moon. She is a monster, a dragon, A story to scare, To inspire. She bathes in fire, forged From an erupting volcano On Jupiter. Maybe, she should be admired, Taken to a photo booth and savored for Eternity on glossy paper, with Her own fingerprints scattered in mazes Across its drying surface. Possibly she should be studied in a lab, Examined, taken apart, So that every bone, every droplet, every inkling Of her body can be translated into Morse code. Or her soul. Life is short, a blink, a nano-second, and the body is worthless. She is the universe compressed into One tiny speck, a tiny speck so large It can take up lifetimes, Pulsing, breathing, Uncontrollable, non-existent, Vulnerable, yet powerful. She rides a surfboard in solar storms, Catching dreams among the voids, and gets back home


In time for her fifth cup of Peppermint tea. She paints pictures Upon her body with a blade, Her fingers stained with Vermillion ink. She lives Inside her head, and sings In the shower. Her hair is plaited with Fragments of an exploded nebula. She untangles the knots, then Walks the world barefoot. And people shout, “We know her! Arina Petrova, The one with voices in her head.� She is bursting with colour, and The freedom is unbearable. So cold. So broken. So ordinary. A supernova. A sliver of dying eternity.


Ian Macartney The Snails Move Out Rain made the spiral houses part away from each other on gelatinous railways. A town disbanded. They migrated across the pavement with staircases on their backs. Slugging through pools of their own body, their Golden Ratios were crushed by feet from above. Living-rooms flooded in downpour, a tear-drop apocalypse. Fibonacci caved in. The mangled fluid turned clay-red. The others had to go, before the eels they built their houses on swam away in the flying water.


Eira Murphy MRI Lift the machine above my head the sky into silver grids, a handful of elastic breath and feathers. Purr like my breath at night whirring. They meant for it to be like this. We sleep in tangled fluorescent light sharing the crook of your arm. We sleep with wax running down your face in great rivets of song. The moon rises, two doves unfolding from my eyelids. The sand dark with puckered seams, minutes splintering. They always had this plan. Grip of the railway track on damp earth, a flickering broken wing like the lights at the railway station, breaking my train of thought and sending it


Jonathan Stone Pbft Picture a balloon, inflated to translucence. There are a number of ways in which this particular predicament can end. a)

Pinched by the neck, stretched, such that it screams hilariously until it dies, out of noise.


Let go, to fly on flatulent wings, win a laugh, run out of fuel, then silence, then a sigh.


Held tight. Too tight. Built up, then stuck with a spike. Hard luck. What a shock. Pop.

But those are all too loud for me. There are two more that I can think of – somewhat softer, somewhat not. d)

Tied off. Maybe held down by string, maybe not. Maybe let go of, maybe left. Maybe floated away. Maybe the loft, maybe discovered again, maybe forgot. Maybe it mercifully popped, but probably not. Probably only waited to rot, still there in name, shrank and shrivelled and withered


away, until even if anyone saw, no-one could say precisely when it changed from one to the other – though they could all say whether. e)

Here’s another. Still holding the air or helium in, grip either side of the lip, and pull. If you’ve the knack, the air should escape, with no more noise than a gentle exhalation as it’s released. Or, if you prefer, relieved. That way, it dies, with the rubber still smooth, still of use, and still fresh in the mind.


Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2015 Congratulations to the commended poets Will Adams, Rebecca Alifimoff, Isla Anderson, Natasha Blinder, Daniel Blokh, Aisha Mango Borja, F贸la J. Brady, Eva Brand Whitehead, Georgie Brooke, Priya Bryant, Jasmine Burgess, Jenny Burville-Riley, Mikaela Carmichael, Autumn Carson, Freya Carter, Damayanti Chatterjee, Michelle Chen, Misbah Choudhry, Shamma Dalal, Catherine Dent, Leila Dickinson, Sala Fadelallah, Annie Fan, Gianni Fortes, Ava Goga, Tom Gonzalez-Carvajal, Alex Greenberg, Lorcan Greene, Molly Groarke, Katherine Hampshire, Kathryn Hargett, Hal Henderson, Katherina H枚gler, Eli Hong, Patrick Hughes, Finty Hunter, Yasmin Inkersole, Satta Kamara, Ruby Kelman, Amelia Kendall, Inara Lalani, Alannah Lewis, Hannah Link, Alice Long, Kavae Loseby, Annalise Lozier, Lauren Maltas, Hermione Marshall, Jacob Mason-White, Gazelle Mba, Marina McCready, Miles McInerney, Abby Meyer, Ruby Morvan, Mia Nelson, Zinath Oloko, Pratiksha Saha, Claire Seymour, Shakthi Shrima, Chloe Smith, Colette Spaul, Audrey Spensley, Reem Sultan, Charis Taplin, Andrew Telford, Abigail Thomson, Amber Thornton, Caroline Tsai, Finn Scarr de Haas van Dorsser, Ben Vince, Imogen Wade, Lucy Wainger, Tilly Wainwright, Molly Watkins, Alice West, Emily Wilder, Amy Wolstenholme, Maria Woodford, Jim Woods, Chelsy Wu, Catherine Yarrow, Rawan Yousif, Alex Zhang, Margaret Zhang, Lisa Zou.

New! The commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2015 online anthology Look out for the new online anthology of poems by the commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2015. For details, visit


Foyle Foundation The Foyle Foundation is an independent grantmaking trust supporting UK charities which, since its formation in 2001, has become a major funder of the arts and learning. The Foyle Foundation has invested in the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award since 2001, one of its longest partnerships. During this time it has trebled its support and enabled the competition to develop and grow to become one of the premier literary awards in the country.

The Poetry Society The Poetry Society is Britain’s leading voice for poets and poetry. Founded in 1909 to promote “a more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”, the Society is now one of the country’s most dynamic arts organisations, with nearly 4,000 members around the world. It is also the publisher of the UK’s leading poetry magazine, The Poetry Review. With innovative education and commissioning programmes, and a packed calendar of performances, readings and competitions, The Poetry Society champions poetry for all ages.

Help young writers thrive The Poetry Society’s work with young people and schools across the UK has changed the lives of many emerging readers, writers and performers of poetry; developing confidence and literacy skills, encouraging self-expression and opening up new life opportunities. Support us by donating at


Opportunities for young writers from The Poetry Society As well as the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, The Poetry Society offers lots of other opportunities for young writers: Young Poets Network is The Poetry Society’s online platform for young poets up to the age of 25. It’s for everyone interested in poets and poetry – whether you’ve just started out, or you’re a seasoned poetry reader and writer. You’ll find features, challenges and competitions to inspire your own writing, as well as new writing from young poets, and advice and guidance from the rising and established stars of the poetry scene. We partner with amazing organisations, from English National Ballet and the British Library, to Oxfam, sparking ideas that travel far beyond the page. For updates, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @youngpoetsnet. SLAMbassadors is the national youth slam championship, open to young people aged 12-18. Prizes include a masterclass weekend with slam champion Joelle Taylor and the chance to performance at a prestigious London venue alongside a headline spoken word act. Recent judges and headliners include Kate Tempest, Hollie McNish and Scroobius Pip. SLAMbassadors workshops are also available for schools and youth groups. Poetry Society Youth Membership is for aspiring writers and poetry enthusiasts aged 11-18. Members receive poetry goodies, opportunities for feedback and The Poetry Society’s newsletter, Poetry News.


Resources for schools from The Poetry Society Teaching resources, including lesson plans and online versions of the anthologies of the winning and commended Foyle Young Poets, are available on our website. Page Fright is a new online resource, bringing historical poetry to life with contemporary spoken word performances. See MCs take on Shelley, and Benjamin Zephaniah interpret Dylan Thomas. Page Fright poets perform their own work, and explore historical poems afresh. There are also resources and writing prompts to help you create your own poetry. Poets in Schools is a service from The Poetry Society that places poets in classroom across the UK, encouraging an understanding of and enthusiasm for written and spoken poetry across all key stages. Whether you want a one-off workshop or a long term residency, an INSET session for staff or a poet-led assembly, we can find the right poet for you. School Membership is the best way to connect your school with all that poetry has to offer. School members receive books, resources, posters, Poetry News and The Poetry Review (secondary only), as well as free access to our Poets in Schools service. Follow us on Twitter @PoetryEducation or sign up to our schools e-bulletin for all the latest news.


Enter the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2016 Judges: Malika Booker & W.N. Herbert Enter your poems – change your life! The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2016 is open to any writer aged 11 to 17 (inclusive) on the closing date of 31 July 2016. The competition is completely free to enter and poems can be on any theme or subject. Individuals can enter more than one poem, but please concentrate on drafting and redrafting your poems – quality is more important than quantity! Entries cannot be returned under any circumstances so please keep copies. Prizes include mentoring, places on a week-long residential writing course at an Arvon Centre, publication in a prestigious anthology, and much more. Winners also benefit from ongoing support and encouragement from The Poetry Society via publication, performance and internship opportunities. How to enter: before entering, please read the full rules, published in full on our website. Enter online or photocopy the entry form opposite and send it, with your poems, to: FYP 2016, The Poetry Society, 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX. School entries: want to submit your whole class’s poems? You can enter a set of poems by post or online using our simple submission form. Every school that enters 25 students or more will receive a £50 discount on our Poets in Schools service! Want a FREE set of anthologies, resources and posters for your class? Email your name, address and request to For full rules and instructions on how to enter visit our website: 32

Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016 Entry Form Individuals: complete and post this form or enter online at Teachers: to submit multiple entries, use our online form for teachers or download a class entry form from Name ______________________________________________ Address _____________________________________________ __________________________________________________ Postcode ________________ Country


Your school __________________________________________ Your tel MOBILE PREFERRED ________________________________ Your email


Date of birth __________ No. of poems submitted ________ Gender


Ethnic group





I confirm I have read and agree to the competition rules (online at: To enter by post, write the entrant’s name and postcode on the reverse of each poem submitted and include a completed entry form. Send to: FYP 2016, The Poetry Society, 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX or enter online at The Poetry Society has created a FREE online community, Young Poets Network, to keep you updated with opportunities for young writers. If you do NOT wish to join the mailing list, tick here

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The Wolves of Normality: Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2015 Anthology  

This anthology celebrates the 15 winning poems of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2015 and names the 85 commended poets. The bigge...

The Wolves of Normality: Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2015 Anthology  

This anthology celebrates the 15 winning poems of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2015 and names the 85 commended poets. The bigge...