Brighton Festival 2020Public booking opens: Wed 19 Feb, 9am

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)