There was an item recently on the news that sent me into a quivering state of complete and utter horror (which, let's be honest, isn't that difficult with the news nowadays). The smiley news-man revealed with a full set of pearly teeth that the literacy rate of people in the UK was one of the lowest in the whole of Europe. Now for me, that is appalling! Disgustingly appalling, even. I mean, let's forget the sometimes scary programmes like Educating Essex (and Yorkshire, but that wasn't so bad) and the perpetual question of, 'What is pi?', and think about this logically. In our country, every single child has the privilege to go to school. There are libraries, there are free classes and courses that teach vital skills like reading and writing. And yet, in the 21st century, there are people in the UK that can't even read. Please excuse me while I close my own mouth.
But then, even when we lose all hope in our seemingly hopeless race of humanity, there is still a flickering and poignantly strong light at the end of the tunnel. And that light, ladies and gentlemen, is the light of us teenagers.
While the rest of the population are still staggered, shocked even, at this recent piece of news, online writing website Movellas and publishing house Macmillan have discovered that not all hope is lost with hundreds of teenagers from across the country sending in none other than poetry for their latest competition. Movellas and Macmillan received a mind-blowing response to their poetry competition 'Stanza and Deliver', with poems revolving around the themes of what it means to be a teenager in today's world and all of the experiences that come with it, even the awkward ones. 200 entries were received, and the grand prize for the 25 most prestigious poets was to have their poem published in a new ebook entitled, 'This Is What I Have To Say', released on 25th October 2013 on Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play and Nook stores. Yvonne Biggins, Director of Business Development and Community at Movellas said that, "We are so proud of this anthology. There's been a lot of negative press about young people and literacy results recently, so it's great to be able to show what wonderful talent we have here on Movellas. 70% of our users have told us that they enjoy writing for fun more since joining Movellas and there have been many studies showing that reading and writing for fun has a positive effect on attainment levels, so we're pleased to share something positive!"
Fortunately, this good news just keeps on getting better and better. The cover of the ebook, featuring a teenager with bubbles of relevant words around her (suffering, time, smiles, music ect) was also designed by a teenager, 16 year old old Samema Islam, from London, who won the competition to design the cover. The introduction of the book is written by Roger Stevens, a children's author, and he said, "It's great to see that, despite all the new technology that parents sometimes bemoan, teenagers are still writing poetry. They may now write on iPads rather than notepads, but their words still capture the joy and the pain of growing from child to adult - these poems ask 'who do you think you are?'"
The anthology altogether is incredibly moving, for teenagers there are poems that they can actually relate to, and for adults a sense of nostalgia as they read about feelings they too experienced in their younger years. And for the 25 teenagers aged thirteen to nineteen who have had their own poems published for the whole world to see, they can experience a real sense of pride and accomplishment, and know that deep down, they are really not the hood-clad teen monsters that the media often makes them out to be.
'What I Have To Say' is available on Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play and Nook stores now.