The Foyle 2021 Launches

In March 2021, the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award for 2021 was launched. Natasha Ryan who is one of the competition’s organisers dives into this year’s competition. Who can apply? When by? And all the other exciting work the Foyle is doing…

Last month, the latest Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, one of the largest and most prestigious awards for young poets aged 11-17 writing original works in English, opened for entries. Run by The Poetry Society, with the generous support of the Foyle Foundation, the competition invites entries from both individual poets and schools anywhere in the world.  It is free to enter and poems can be on any theme, and of any length. The deadline is 31 July 2021. Enter at

We are thrilled to announce that the judges this year are poets Clare Pollard and Yomi Ṣode. To support entrants, they have recorded a video to detail what they’ll be looking for during the judging process, alongside blogs here and here. We were delighted when Clare and Yomi accepted the invitation to be judges, as they both have lots of experience working with young people and are excited to discover the next generation of brilliant poets.

One hundred young people will be selected as winners in 2021: 15 top poets, and 85 commended poets. The winners benefit from amazing prizes, including Youth Membership of The Poetry Society, books and other goodies, mentorship, and ongoing opportunities for publication, performance, promotion and access to a paid internship programme. This year’s winners will be announced at a special awards ceremony in October 2021. The top 15 winning poets will have their poems published in an anthology in March 2022. You can read the anthology of last year’s winning poems, You Speak in Constellationshere.

Schools also benefit from participating in the award. Every year, The Poetry Society selects a number of Applauded Schools, who have shown a continued commitment to the competition, to receive free poet-led workshops and teacher training. We also recognise a small group of ‘Teacher Trailblazers’ who have shown outstanding innovation and passion in inspiring young people to write. The Teacher Trailblazers are commissioned to produce teaching resources to share with other schools.

Throughout this year’s competition, The Poetry Society will be publishing resources for young writers and resources for teachers. The first of these, on Libby Russell’s ‘Love Poem to Young Offenders Support Workers’, a winning poem in the 2020 Award, has just been released. The resource includes a brand-new lesson plan on the poem, created by Teacher Trailblazer Gareth Ellis, and an interview with Libby. There are also discussion points for when you’re reading the poem, writing prompts to inspire you to write your own poems, and an extension activity exploring three poems that were commended in the 2020 Award: ‘Glenrothes’ by Ailsa Morgan, ‘Ode to the Milkman’ by Sinéad O’Reilly, and ‘Gateways Club, 1967 (Lipstick and Jazz)’ by Elise Withey. 

A new video resource next week will offer teachers ideas about how to use the poems in the Foyle Young Poets anthology to practise analysing an unseen text. Further resources, including lesson plans, will be published throughout May-July.

If you’re aged 11-17 and you enjoy writing poetry, submit your poems to this year’s competition at You can also sign up to Young Poets Network mailing list or follow The Poetry Society on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook.

Natasha Ryan, The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award

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