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Good morning, everyone, it’s Marina here behind the bar to keep up the conversation about poetic inspiration. Tony asked us what poets we admire now, while Mary asked us about our poetic influences in childhood. Well, I am going to draw your attention to poets who are little more than children themselves (although they would probably me mortified to hear that).


The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award was started in 1998 by the Poetry Society in the UK with the purpose of encouraging English-speaking poets aged 11-17 from all countries to participate and experiment with poetry. It is now one of the leading awards for young poets and typically attracts 8000 poets from 75 countries. With such fierce competition, it’s a terrific achievement to be selected by the judges as one of the top 100 (there are 15 winners and 85 commended poets each year).
It’s not just the reach of the competition that impresses me, but the quality of the work. What amazes me each time is how mature but also how courageous these young poets are. They don’t follow the rules blindly, they explore new paths and are not afraid to tackle the most painful of subjects, to tell old stories in a fresh, exciting way. They are open and vulnerable, yet also breathtakingly confident. Here are some examples:

The Accident by Talullah Hutson
I remember sitting on my father’s shoulders
watching the millennium fireworks
from one unknown bridge or another.
I remember being wrapped up in a pram
with my brother, a plastic cover
keeping away the rain
and the deep rumbles of summer fireworks
as they unleashed their burning colours
and showered down their embers on those below.
I remember the three of us, like musketeers,
crawling inside a duvet cover
and playing ant colonies.
I remember climbing across
the banisters when there was a knock
at the door, so the unsuspecting
guest would think I was an acrobat.
I remember when the knock
at the door was a policeman, bearing
bad news,
I don’t remember what happened next.
I remember staring at a ceiling
that wasn’t my own.
I remember playing with the hand sanitizers,
I remember the picnics in Queen Square
and running along the little flower bed walls.
I remember creeping up the stairs to smell your
dressing gown, the smell of you.
I remember Aileen, who cut me an apron
of my own and took me on her ward rounds.
I remember that you can’t light seven
candles in a hospital room.

Dutch Baby by Ian Burnette

In the bakery, my girl
Grips a pregnancy test
like a pistol in her pocket.
The baker hands her
the key to the restroom
And leaves. In the back
there’s a small window
where he watches
men and women and
children – I don’t mind,
I’ve learned I can’t
protect anyone by now.
The raspberry Danish
in the pastry cabinet
is the baker’s daughter,
I’ve decided – bruised
purple and swaddled
in puff rope. I imagine
the baker coming back
from his window, filling
my empty hands.
Here’s yeast, here’s flour,
fruit and sugar and water –
make more of her.

Daughters by Phoebe Stuckes

Enough of pulling off high heels to run
Or else waiting alone in unclaimed ugliness.

No more crying out for guitar heroes
Or going back to old loves for the safety.

Let us build bonfires of those unanswered prayers.
Let us learn how to leave with clean and empty hearts
Let us escape these attics still mad, still drunk, still raving
Let us vacate these badly lit odd little towns
Let us want none of what anchored our mothers
Let us never evolve to be good or beautiful
Let us spit and snarl and rattle the hatches
Let us never be conquered
Let us no longer keep keys in our knuckles
Let us run into the streets hungry, fervent, ablaze.

Are a mighty thing
A captive animal, woken with a taste for blood.
Feed it,

You Amazon, you Gloria, you Swiss army knife of a woman.

I am humbled and inspired by the courage (and craft mastery) of these young poets. So I’m going to ask what each of us feels they need to be ‘braver’ about in our poetry? Is it about learning a new form, writing more, writing from the subconscious, editing more, learning to accept criticism, pushing ourselves to attempt topics or prompts when we are not inspired? In my case, perhaps all of the above, but above all learning not to steer clear of painful subjects (for fear that the poetry will become ‘too confessional’ or ‘too raw’).
So, no linking tonight, just join the comments below and let us know what frightens you in poetry (if anything) and which of those fears you want to overcome. I look forward to hearing from you.