National Poetry Day reveals 'freedom' competition winners

National Poetry Day reveals 'freedom' competition winners

National Poetry Day has revealed the winners of its "freedom" themed children's poetry competition, for which 700 entries were submitted.

The annual poetry celebration on 28th September, run in association with Frances Lincoln Children’s Books and Amnesty International UK, featured a competition this year asking children to write a poem inspired by the theme of freedom, and in particular John Lennon’s song “Imagine”, now the basis of a picture book of the same title. The book, illustrated by Jean Jullien and with a foreword by Yoko Ono, was published by Quarto on 21st September with royalties donated to Amnesty International.

More than 700 poems were submitted which were read by the by National Poetry Day ambassadors. Ten-year old Molly Suggitt, a pupil at Appleton Academy, Bradford, was declared the overall winner followed in second place by Basti Cook, eight, who attends Chilmark and Fonthill Bishop Primary School in Salisbury.

As part of their prize, National Poetry Day ambassador and artist Sophie Herxheimer has illustrated Molly and Basti’s winning poems (pictured below) and Suggit also won a visit to her school by fellow ambassador and poet Matt Goodfellow.


“The winning poems planted direct and unmistakeable images in my mind, as well as showing original and imaginative uses of language", said Herxheimer. She described the winning entries as "thoughtful and spare".

Andrea Reece, National Poetry Day manager said: “We were delighted to work with Frances Lincoln Children’s Books and Amnesty International UK on this competition and it was wonderful to see the children letting their imaginations run free inspired by John Lennon’s immortal words.”

She said that the annual event "is all about discovering and sharing poetry, and we know that hearing poets and working with them is one of the best ways to inspire children”.

Katherine Josselyn, children’s marketing director in the UK of Quarto Frances Lincoln Children’s Books said: “All of the poems were fantastically imaginative. The budding poets had thought hard and creatively about the theme of Freedom and how they imagine peace, friendship and unity in their world today, just like the little bird does in the book version of “Imagine”.” 

National Poetry Day this year included a four-day festival in Hull, 2017 City of Culture, and featured the celebration's first ever dedicated book trade promotion.

The winning and the highly commended entries can be seen on the National Poetry Day website.