The winners of the 16th Christopher Tower Poetry competition have been announced at Christ Church, Oxford.
The competition, which was judged by Alan Gillis, Katherine Rundell and Peter McDonald, attracted more than 1,100 entrants born between 1997 and 2000.
Ashani Lewis, from The Tiffin Girls’ School, Surrey, was awarded the £3,000 first prize for her poem Flowers From The Dark. Her poem is published in full below.
The winner of the second (£1,000) prize Safah Ahmed (Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Centre, London) with ‘Accent’ and the third prizewinner, Sophia West (Oxford High School) won £500 with ‘The Awakening’. Their schools receive £150 each.
This year's theme of wonder for the 16th Christopher Tower Poetry competition attracted over 1,100 entrants (all born between 1997 and 2000) with many schools encouraging entrants for the first time.
Poet Alan Gillis said: 'Reading through all the poems, I was struck first of all by the great range and diversity of work in terms of voice, style and subject matter. But overwhelmingly, I was impressed by the consistency of excellence.
'The experience of judging has been really uplifting because of the passion and daring, boldness and confidence of the poems entered. This is a wonderful competition.'
The competition is just one of the initiatives developed by Tower Poetry at Christ Church to encourage the writing and reading of poetry by young adults.
Other projects include summer schools (to which the first three winners are invited as part of their prize), poetry readings, conferences, an ongoing publication programme and website, which is used as an educational resource in schools.
You can see the winning entries for yourself on the Tower Poetry website where the young authors read their own poems. The winning poem by Ashani Lewis, Flowers From The Dark, is here:
She is quiet,
With skin as tight as the wheeling crows:
She kneels over the dirt and grows
Your lawn chair holds a pale absence;
A tulip dies, falls back against the fence,
You watch her.
(And from her fair and unpolluted flesh)
The shadows on the windowsill – fresh
Violets Break up the clean square of light,
And, thoughtless, obstruct the sight
Of her silence.
She grows the flowers
For you. From loam and wombs,
The pits of eyes and empty rooms,
Harpoons, moons and crows: everything dark –
Seaweed, oil, the time around stars;
And olive stones.