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Governor’s School senior among world’s top young poets

The Poetry Society announces The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2018 winners


When The Poetry Society announced the top 15 winners and 85 commended poets of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2018 at a prize-giving ceremony at the Southbank Centre, Royal Festival Hall in London, a young South Carolinian found her name on the list. S.C. Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities senior creative writing student Maggie Olszewski from Columbia was named a 2018 Foyle Young Poet by The Poetry Society.  She is one of 15 selected from 6,000 contenders worldwide and her poem was chosen from 11,000 submissions. She is the only American winner. She fell in love with poetry in the second grade, when she first read Falling Up by Shel Silverstein. She loves walking around in the woods, doodling, and having intense discussions about superheroes. She has won regional awards for her poetry from Scholastics and has had two poems published in Jasper magazine. Organised by The Poetry Society and generously supported by the Foyle Foundation, the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Held annually since 1998, the Foyle Awards is one of the largest literary competitions in the world and a defining award for young poets, in some cases kick-starting the career of some of today’s most exciting voices in poetry. The 2018 competition attracted nearly 11,000 poems from nearly 6,000 poets from around the world, including all postcode areas of the UK. Writers from 83 countries entered the competition, including Armenia, Botswana, Cambodia, Eritrea, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and for the very first time, Uruguay.
From the thousands of poems entered, this year’s judges Caroline Bird (a Foyle winner in 1999 & 2000) and Daljit Nagra (BBC Radio 4’s Poet in Residence and also a Foyle judge in 2008) selected 100 winners, made up of 15 top poets and 85 commended poets. Caroline spoke of the way the winning poems came alive on the page:

“The poems that embedded themselves in my mind were those with a strong, original idea. They jumped out because they felt new and vivid; cinematic and alive, like they weren’t documented on the page they were occurring on the page.

“I can still see the images in my head... You instantly feel like you’ve been ushered into an original world – the poet’s world. Or sometimes it was about the way they looked at a situation, with x-ray eyes... that gazed under the surface of the ordinary.”

Daljit was impressed by the maturity of thought and writing from the younger winners:

“I was pleased to read so many outstanding poems by children under 15 years of age. This shows the excellent health of poetry across the ages; the last time I judged, a decade ago, nearly all the winners were late teens. Our young poets forced their way into the final 100 through the sheer vigour of the voice.

“I was also impressed by the maturity of the work we read; so many of our young poets showed a keen awareness of serious issues such as identity politics, environment issues and the global tensions currently between nation states. I really felt our young poets were keen to explore the perilous state of our world through poetry; they seem to regard verse as a valid form of expression for serious ideas.

“Our young poets seemed keen to pay respect to traditional forms, good lineation and stanza forms as a way of developing their imaginative arguments. This was highly impressive.”


Winners of the award receive a fantastic range of prizes to help develop their writing. The top 15 poets (age dependent) are invited to attend a residential writing course where they spend a week with experienced tutors focusing on improving their poetry, or receive poetry workshops at their school. All 100 winners of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award receive a year's membership of the Poetry Society and a goody bag stuffed full of books donated by our generous sponsors. The Poetry Society continues to support winners throughout their careers providing publication, performance and development opportunities, and access to a paid internship program. The top 15 poems will be published in a printed winners' anthology (also available online) from March 2019. The 85 commended poems will appear in an online anthology. Both anthologies are distributed free to thousands of schools, libraries, reading groups and poetry lovers across the UK and the world. The Top 15 Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2018 are:
  • Suzanne Antelme, 16, Surrey
  • Mathilda Armiger, 16, Norfolk
  • Caitlin Catheld Pyper, 13, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Maiya Dambawinna, 17, Leeds
  • Suki Datar Jones, 17, London
  • Olivia Hu, 17, British Columbia, Canada
  • Angela King, 15, London
  • Sammy Loehnis, 12, Oxfordshire
  • Cia Mangat, 16, London
  • Maggie Olszewski, 17, South Carolina, USA
  • Em Power, 15, London
  • Elizabeth Thatcher, 16, London
  • Lucy Thynne, 17, London
  • Sophie Thynne, 15, London
  • Georgie Woodhead, 15, Sheffield

Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award

Foyle Young Poets of the Year is the largest and most prestigious award for young poets aged 11-17 writing original works in Egnlish. The competition is free to enter and poems can be on any theme, and of any length. Winners are published in an anthology, and benefit from a range of professional development opportunities offered by The Poetry Society. Foyle winners are also offered paid internships, and editorial opportunities via The Poetry Society’s online platform the Young Poets Network, www.youngpoetsnetwork.org.uk. To read profiles of former winners, read the full rules, download lesson plans and enter online, visit foyleyoungpoets.org.

The Foyle Foundation

The Foyle Foundation is an independent grant-making 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. Online: foylefoundation.org.uk

The Poetry Society

The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 to promote a “more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”. Since then, it has grown into one of Britain’s most dynamic arts organisations, representing British poetry both nationally and internationally. Today it has over 4,000 members worldwide and publishes Britain’s leading poetry magazine,The Poetry Review.  With innovative education and commissioning programs, and a packed calendar of performances, readings and competitions, The Poetry Society champions poetry for all. Online: poetrysociety.org.uk