< back

Schools’ Poetry Competition Showcase 2023

Our 2023 Schools’ Poetry Competition Showcase proved to be an incredible evening. Held on National Poetry Day, Thursday 5 October, the event took place at the Gulbenkian Arts Centre and featured readings from this year’s shortlisted-poets, aged 5-18.

This year’s competition received over 500 submissions, from which 28 poets, representing 16 Kent Schools were shortlisted. The event was presented by poets John Hegley and Charlotte Cornell, with John Hegley presenting a poem written celebrating the event.

John Hegley selected and awarded the overall Poet’s Prize to Shanaya Choudhury, age 14, Dartford Grammar School for Girls. Blean Primary School were awarded Most Poetic School for submitting the highest volume of poem and Charlotte Cornell selected the Gold, Silver and Bronze winners in each of the four age categories. The competition was generously sponsored by Stagecoach Southeast.

You can download and view the 2023 Schools’ Poetry Anthology here

“Best National Poetry Day – ever!” John Hegley

“Thank you so much for organising such a lovely evening. It was a real pleasure to attend, and Zemzemma has gained so much from the experience, both from attending the workshop two weeks ago and from having the opportunity to recite her poem this evening. I hope that the competition will be running again next year – we would very much like to be involved.”  Kane Tugby, teacher, Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar School

This year’s winning poem

A Mother

By Shanaya Choudhury

Most mothers

when they have a child

express their love for the child

scold them only when needed

are sweet and accept the child for who they are

are patient and take time to understand their child

are open to talk and will change topics for their child

accept all their shortcomings and apologise to the child

will try her best to better herself for herself and the child

will always take advice from others, including her child

will always listen to and hear out her child

…and is her child’s refuge from the world.

But some mothers

when they have a child

rarely express their love for the child

constantly scold and berate their child

are harsh and will not forgive their child for their “flaws”

are stubborn and will not take the time to understand the child

refuse to talk things through in favour of staying on topic and not

“ruining the mood”

will never accept any wrongdoing on their part, as they are doing everything right

worsen with each passing day with no care for how the child feels,

only how they feel

will never take advice fully to heart, especially from her kid

will never hear out the child,

as there are always more urgent matters at hand

…and the world is the child’s refuge from her.

Age 14, Dartford Grammar School for Girls,

Teacher Wendy Mackenzie

A poem for the Schools’ Poetry Competition by John Hegley

These Young Gulbenkians

Here, with the University of Kent

I’m pleased and proud, to help present

the poets being heard and seen

from five years old, to seventeen.

Pupils from all over Kent 

by teachers had their poems sent:

from Canterbury, Tunbridge, too

and Dartford schools, to name a few

and Whitstable, is on the list

and schooled-at-home have not been missed out, either.

For this The Canterbury Festival,

induced and produced by Amanda Sefton Hogg,

Charlotte Cornell, took the poems, made the choice;

when she could hear a clear voice

   she knew the piece had passed the test – 400 poems!

        …AND THE REST

You’ll sample some upon the stage

with more appearing on the page

of a volume, which will be

a home for Kentish poetree.

This Thursday evening, we present

this cluster of the keen of Kent

preparing to employ their jaws – 

the chorus line, the rhyme, and pause

they’ll step up here and make it yours.

So, in anticipation

of this young people’s Stage Coach sponsored Poetry Day of the nation 

 presentation please muster now, Kentish applause