World Poetry Day: Students Compete In Poet Karen McCarthy Woolf Competition

World Poetry Day: Students Try Their Hand At Poetry

A competition launched by poet Karen McCarthy Woolf in aid of World Poetry Day has seen students from across the globe try their hand at writing poems.

McCarthy Woolf set 11 to 18-year-olds a series of weekly challenges to help inspire young people to use poetry as a way of responding to climate science.

"The response was remarkably strong and as you'll see from the poems here, very wide ranging in approach and reach," the poet said. |These young poets from around the world challenge us to think long and hard about humanity's impact on the planet in a manner that is provocative, witty, sophisticated and above all, heartfelt."

Launched by David Buckland's not-for-profit programme Cape Farewell, the new poetry programme SWITCH is aimed at encouraging young poets to explore climate change issues through the creation of poetry.

The winning poems, judged by McCarthy Woolf, will be revealed on the 29th April at a live event at Rich Mix, the east London arts venue.

A sample of the entries:

The Arctic Tern’s Prayer

Tell the air to hold me in the rushing heart of it

And keep its paths straight

Away from home let there be a land that

Flows with fish and flies

And let it taste like it tasted at home

Home take this salty scent of home from my head

Cut away the memory of its last ultraviolet

Flash beautiful beneath me

Don’t turn me to a twist of salt to fall to

Sea’s saltiness if I look back at my home

Let me look back just once let me

Look back

Mary Ann. 17, London

The Wooden Box

Handle with care. This wooden box contains

the earth’s endangered last remains.

The empty pocket of the punctured sky -

so small it might swallow itself in a gulp.

The slither of sunlight snagged on a branch -

the warmth of a smile ripped into rags.

The clouds that sag and shrivel on the ground -

like bruised balloons when the birthday’s over,

fallen flags when the battle’s been lost.

The trees that cling to the edge of existence -

branches like the bones of broken ballerinas.

The dribbling puddle of the polar icecap –

an open wound bleeding out into its cracks.

All that’s left of life is a footprint –

the raindrop flees its sky in fear.

We thought we had suitcases packed with time –

a refundable receipt guaranteed for a lifetime.

Jade, 17, North Yorkshire

No Return Policy

Welcome to Paradise Limited & Co

Est. dawn of time/discovery of Arctic

Our Great White Sale best bargains:

$3 for a pair of black-as-coal mining hearts

(perfect for energy company galas)

$5 for penguin & choking plastic bottles statue

on bloated seal skin by


$7 for dicey packs of Gamble the Future cards

(aces exempt)

$9 for 5 gallons whitewash of conscience,

dirty hands, and oil spills

$11 for Channel no. 2050

(greasy cellophane/grocery bag scent)

$13 for fossil fuel magnets to tack on

refrigerators back home

$15 for three death metal/hard rock

mixtapes by Pollution Apocalypse

$17 for freeze-dried ‘not my fault’

excuses, water-resistant.

Thank you for shopping at Paradise.

Jamie, 14, Bangkok

The weekly challenges were posted on the Poetry Society’s Young Poets Network and will remain there as an inspirational resource for writers, and can be found here.


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