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Peacock Poetry Prize 2016

For the 50th Brighton Festival, our annual poetry competition in partnership with Brighton, Hove & Sussex 6th Form College (BHASVIC) takes the theme of ‘Celebration’. Rejoice in the everyday or revel in the outlandish: what will you choose to celebrate?

Entries will be judged by our panel of experts and prizes awarded at a special ceremony at Brighton Dome on Thu 26 May, 5pm. There are four categories, for ages 8–11, 12–15, 16–17 and 18+. You can submit up to three poems with a maximum length of 40 lines per poem.

Email your entry, together with your full name, age and date of birth to writing@brightonfestival.org 

Deadline for entries: Fri 22 Apr, 5pm

The Peacock Poetry Prize is an annual competition produced by Brighton Festival and Brighton, Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College (BHASVIC) to encourage young writers to explore the written word from a creative point of view. The aim is to get young people writing right across Sussex and encourage them to engage with the Festival’s theme. The competition is open to residents of Brighton & Hove, East and West Sussex aged 8 and over.

Supported by GM Building

Peacock Poetry Prize winners announced

The winners of the Peacock Poetry Prize 2015 - an annual creative writing competition produced by Brighton Festival and Brighton, Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College (BHASVIC) - have been announced.

The annual creative writing competition, produced by Brighton Festival and Brighton, Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College (BHASVIC), asks local poets aged between 7 - 18 years to explore and respond to a specific subject in an imaginative and inventive way. 2015 saw the writers respond to the theme of ‘birds’; a subject chosen by Brighton Festival 2015 Guest Director and award-winning author Ali Smith – which reflected one of the central themes of the Festival itself.

Read all the finalists entries

As Ali Smith writes -

Who were the first singers?

What direct link back to the days of the dinosaurs can we see all round us in the air, in the trees, on the ground, every day?

What has bones that are hollow to make themselves even lighter?

Birds. They're waiting in the wings.

What kind of creature – apart from people in an aeroplane, I mean – can fly for miles but be completely asleep all the way?

Which ones can fly backwards, and which can beat its wings 50 times a second?

Which can fly underwater?

Which can fly nearly a thousand miles a day?

Which helped with the war effort in both the first and the second world wars, and were even given medals for their service?

And here's a question as old as the birds : why did that chicken cross the road?

A charm of chaffinches, a chime of wrens, a colony of gulls, a congregation of eagles, an exaltation of larks, a flamboyance of flamingos, a gaggle of geese, a glittering of hummingbirds, a gulp of swallows, a huddle of penguins, a kettle of hawks, a murder of crows, a murmuration of starlings, a paddling of ducks, a quarrel of sparrows, a wisdom of owls.

Spread your wings.

Submissions were divided into three age groups - those writers aged between 7-10 years, 11-14 years and 15-18 years old.

If Birds Could Talk by 10-year old Laura Boyd won the 8-10 years category, The Boy and the Bird by Sarah Adegbite aged 13 won the 11-14 category, and 16-year old Olivia Sutherland won the 14-18 age range with Pigeonholed – A Sonnet for the Birds.

Winners were presented with their prizes by Ali Smith.

Pippa Smith, Head of Creative Learning at Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said, 

‘the quality of work submitted is always astounding and we hope the poets pursue their dreams of making careers from their writing.’

Chris Thomson, Principal at BHASVIC said 

‘I’m delighted that the BHASVIC-inspired Peacock Poetry Prize goes from strength to strength. It is a wonderful way of bringing the writing talents of young people from all across Sussex to a focus. Thanks to the brilliant work of Brighton Festival staff, the Prize opens a door not only into the world of poetry but also into our marvellous Brighton Festival for all our entrants.’

Get involved: Wonderful ways to be part of Brighton Festival

There are plenty of wonderful ways to get involved with Brighton Festival and we’d love you to be part of it. We’ve tonnes of volunteer and artist opportunities - we’ve got options for writers and readers, performers and greeters and treasure seekers and culture needers, not to mention, there’ll be heaps of competitions to enter over the coming weeks.

Peacock Poetry Prize

Put another feather in your cap and enter the Peacock Poetry Prize - a poetry competition for ages 7-18 and this year’s theme is Birds. Fly this way to see how you can enter. 


Volunteer with us

You could be meeting artists, helping with artistic planning, turning your hand to a spot of marketing or being right in the middle of the action as a front of house volunteer team member. Fill in our survey to get involved.


Young City Reads

There’s a city wide read going on and it’s rather exciting! This year young storylovers are invited to read and discuss the arnarchic Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom. Carnegie Medal shortlisted author William Sutcliffe and illustrator David Tazzyman take centre stage for a live, interactive schools event to talk about this thrilling book and tell us more about Shanks’ Impossible Circus. Find out more about this amazing project launched on world book day. See what happened on their launch day in the video below...


Collidescope

Collidescope offers artists an in-depth insight into Brighton Festival and is suitable for artists who have been making work for at least five years, this opportunity will provide an immersive experience through a packed show schedule across the 23 days of Brighton Festival, and the chance to meet Guest Director Ali Smith and Festival artists in up-close encounters. Artists and creators making work in all areas of the performing arts are welcome to apply - 6-8 participants will be selected.


Fleeting

We are looking for volunteer performers ideally with some dance, movement or performance experience for our closing show. Evoking a sense of awe, wonder and calm contemplation, Fleeting will be a tribute to the West Pier, the people of Brighton and Hove and the transforming power of nature – a fitting finale to Brighton Festival 2015


Join in the festivities

Explore our programme and come and see a show - there’s heaps on offer – join in our celebration of music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and family events. Immerse yourself fully and challenge yourself to see all our free events this May too!

Keep an eye open for competitions. Rapid review will return, with plenty of tickets as prizes and they’ll be plenty more competitive ways to get involved with Brighton Festival 2015 – just watch this space… 

Peacock Poetry Prize to return in Brighton Festival 2015

Annual creative writing competition takes theme of ‘birds’

Brighton Festival 2015 has announced the return of the popular Peacock Poetry Prize. The annual creative writing competition, produced by Brighton Festival and Brighton, Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College (BHASVIC), asks local poets aged between 7 - 18 years to explore and respond to a specific theme in an imaginative and inventive way. Submissions are divided into three age groups - those writers aged between 7-10 years, 11-14 years and 15-18 years old.

This year’s is ‘birds’; a subject chosen by Brighton Festival 2015 Guest Director Ali Smith.

As Ali Smith writes -

Who were the first singers?

What direct link back to the days of the dinosaurs can we see all round us in the air, in the trees, on the ground, every day?

What has bones that are hollow to make themselves even lighter?

Birds. They're waiting in the wings.

What kind of creature – apart from people in an aeroplane, I mean – can fly for miles but be completely asleep all the way?

Which ones can fly backwards, and which can beat its wings 50 times a second?

Which can fly underwater?

Which can fly nearly a thousand miles a day?

Which helped with the war effort in both the first and the second world wars, and were even given medals for their service?

And here's a question as old as the birds : why did that chicken cross the road?

A charm of chaffinches, a chime of wrens, a colony of gulls, a congregation of eagles, an exaltation of larks, a flamboyance of flamingos, a gaggle of geese, a glittering of hummingbirds, a gulp of swallows, a huddle of penguins, a kettle of hawks, a murder of crows, a murmuration of starlings, a paddling of ducks, a quarrel of sparrows, a wisdom of owls.

Spread your wings.

Pippa Smith, Head of Creative Learning at Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said, ‘the Peacock Poetry Prize is always a wonderful opportunity for young people to get involved with Brighton Festival. I’m always taken aback at the number and range of submissions we receive, and this year I hope Ali Smith’s theme of ‘birds’ will see our young writers’ imaginations soar into the clouds to produce some wonderful poetry.’

Chris Thomson, Principal at BHASVIC said ‘the Peacock Poetry Prize is a wonderful way of bringing the writing talents of young people from all across Sussex to a focus; encouraging them to engage with the Festival’s theme and to look on themselves as practitioners as well as participants in this world-class arts festival on their doorstep.’

Finalists of the competition are treated to a reception during Brighton Festival in May, at which the winners are announced.

To enter, budding bards are invited to email your entry (including your name and age) by Monday 20 April to writing@brightonfestival.org with ‘Peacock’ in the subject line, with no more than 3 entries per person and a maximum poem length of 40 lines.  

Click here to download an entry form

Click here for useful tips and competition rules

Peacock Poetry Prize Update

Pippa Smith, our Head of Creative Learning, tells us more about this year's Peacock Poetry Prize.

The preliminary judging took place yesterday and the finalists’ poems have now been sent off to the Senior Judge, poet Rachel Rooney, who will chose the outright winner in each category. To be announced on Fri 23 May.

The judges consisted of senior staff from Brighton Festival and Senior Teachers of English from BHASVIC (who support the prize each year)

The five of us spent a lot of time considering the poems, individually reading them before the meeting; and then deliberating with one another as we championed our favourites. There were over ninety poems and we have just twelve finalists to select (six younger children and three from each of the two older age groups) ; so some sad decisions had to be made. All the people who didn’t get through to the finals will get a personal certificate and in some cases a note of the judges’ comments – particularly in situations where we would like to urge the poets to come back next year!

The finalists are a worthy bunch with some serious poets amongst them particularly amongst the older age group (19 -25). All the judging was done anonymously so the Bhasvic staff cant wait to see if any of their own students were in the final selection.

One 8 year old was of particular interest – his vocabulary and grasp of structure was so sophisticated that the judging team decided it might be a good idea to check with his mum that it really was his own work!

This is what she said :

Yes, the poem was his own work. I will tell you how it happened... He was given the task for homework by his school (Brighton College) on the subject of 'belonging. He chose a topic, one very close to his heart, frogs (he spends almost all of his summer looking for marsh frogs). We sat down and looked through a book of poetry that Theo had, to get a feel for different styles. We both noticed a nice one, I think by Ted Hughes, where he began each stanza with the same word for each of the first three lines. Theo thought this would make a good model/basis to hang his poem on. As he knows a lot about frogs, I encouraged him to imagine himself into the role and he began writing it. I told him to spice up his language by looking in the Thesaurus (something they are strongly encouraged by school to do).

Words like 'daystar' he hadn't heard before, but liked so much, he used instead of 'sun'. All the other words he knew, some he probably wouldn't have thought of had it not been for the Thesaurus!!

Anyway, he will be thrilled! He reads an awful lot (currently The Lord of the Rings) and enjoys nature whenever he is not at school! One more thing, he became 9 last Sunday (27th)!
Yours, (his mum)

Peacock Poetry Prize: The Youthful Poet

Victoria York is administering the Peacock Poetry Prize for Brighton Festival 2014. The Prize is supported by Brighton Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College. In celebration of the number of high quality entries the Prize has received this year Victoria wrote this article in celebration of The Youthful Poet.

Wisdom is often said to be an ingredient of good writing, and one assumes that with wisdom comes the experience of having lived a long and fruitful life. Yet the proverb 'age and treachery will overcome youth and skill' sits uncomfortably with me. A simple look at some of our best loved poets and you see that it is youth and talent that often go hand in hand. A Google search quickly found me many literary greats whose work had the strength to survive beyond their short lives disputing Stanislaw Jaenzy Lec's idea that 'youth is a gift of nature but age is a work of art'. Their poetic accomplishments are celebrated long after they’ve deceased, opening up the question of poetry’s relationship with youth and proving that those on the other side of thirty are capable of achieving literature worth celebrating.

If I think about it, I would not consider John Keats to have been particularly young when reading his work. The way he describes the bright star’s eternal lids and the aches of love so evidently felt and read between the lines of his poems, evoke maturity and experience. Keats however, died at the age of 25. This was a man (not far off being a boy) that existed and still exists forever ageless within his poetry, opposing the fact that age is relevant at all. It proves that children, teenagers and young adults are exposed to the very same beats and rhythms of life and can offer a perspective beyond innocence and naivety that would be so quickly associated with youth. This is not a matter of offering 'a voice of a generation', any person, young or old, big or small, can resonate with a good poem, just as any person young or old, big or small, can write a good poem. AA Milne wrote my favourite poems from childhood despite the fact that he was an adult. And why shouldn't it work the other way?

Unfortunately young people aren’t always encouraged to celebrate their own talents, thinking that time and experience will give them artistic development and improvement. Emotions can often be dismissed with comments like 'oh darling you are too young to experience THAT' when from my first-hand experience it is during youth when things are the most intense and so much feels amplified. The list below should be enough to inspire those that do write, that they can write and sit among the greats. There are no boundaries and there should be no limits. Submit your words and your work could be applauded, long after the standing ovation sits back down.

See below for small extracts from some of the world’s best loved, young poets. Can you think of any youthful poets whose work you love? 

John Keats (died aged 25)

Bright Star
No--yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever--or else swoon to death.

Fragment: Modern Love
And what is love? It is a doll dress'd up
For idleness to cosset, nurse, and dandle;
A thing of soft misnomers, so divine
That silly youth doth think to make itself
Divine by loving, nad so goes on
Yawning and doting a whole summer long

Wilfred Owen (Died aged 25)

The Anthem for Doomed Youth
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.

Sylvia Plath (Died aged 31)

Daddy
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.
But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do

I Am Vertical
Compared with me, a tree is immortal
And a flower-head not tall, but more startling,
And I want the one's longevity and the other's daring.

Doom of Exiles
Backward we traveled to reclaim the day
Before we fell, like Icarus, undone;
All we find are altars in decay
And profane words scrawled black across the sun.

Thomas Chatterton (Died age 17)

A New Song
A blame me not, Broderip, if mounted aloft,
I chatter and spoil the dull air;
How can I imagine thy foppery soft,
When discord's the voice of my fair?

Peacock Poetry Prize asks young writers to explore the theme of ‘belonging’

The Peacock Poetry Prize - an annual creative writing competition produced by Brighton Festival and Brighton, Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College (BHASVIC) - is asking Sussex poets aged between 8 - 25 years to respond to the theme ‘belonging’.

The theme, linked to Brighton Festival Guest Director Hofesh Shechter’s new work Sun, asks budding bards to question what keeps us grounded and together, and to consider where we really belong in 2014.

Submissions will be divided into three age groups - those writers aged between 8-14 years, 14-18 years and 18-25 years old. Finalists will be invited to a special celebratory event during Brighton Festival, with some fantastic prizes up for grabs to the writers of the best entries.

‘The Peacock Poetry Prize has gone from strength to strength since we started it four years ago,’ says Pippa Smith, Head of Creative Learning at Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival.

‘The quality of work submitted is always astounding and we hope the poets pursue their dreams of making careers from their writing.’

'The idea for the prize sprang from some typically imaginative thinking within our outstanding English and Media Departments and was met with an equally enthusiastic response from the creative, dedicated staff at Brighton Festival,' said Chris Thomson, Principal at BHASVIC.

'We aim to get young people writing right across Sussex, encourage them to engage with the Festival’s theme and to look on themselves as practitioners as well as participants in this world-class arts festival on their doorstep.'

Click here to download an entry form. 

Deadline for entries: Mon 21 Apr 2014