Poetry contest launched by the Wordsworths

A popular competition for young poets organised by the family of William Wordsworth is inviting entries from school pupils throughout Cumbria.

The Rydal Mount Wordsworth Prize for Young Poets was established in 2013 and has to date attracted a range of remarkable and exciting offerings from young people.

Now the organiser, Christopher Wordsworth Andrew, the great great great great grandson of the Romantic poet, is launching the new contest after last year’s fell victim to the pandemic.

Students at primary and secondary schools are being invited to submit their entries on the theme of Renewal. The poems will be judged by members of the Wordsworth family, and the inspirational “Fire Poet” Philip Wells who is joining the team.

Ella Drury, latest winner of the competition

The contest, said Christopher, has been a triumphant success since the first staging of the event, drawing in thousands of entries over the years. He and other members of the family will hand out prizes at the award ceremony at Rydal Mount near Ambleside in the autumn.

“We have been so impressed with the maturity, wisdom and sensitivity of the young writers who send us their work,” said Christopher. “It’s gratifying to see that Wordsworth still inspires others. He resonates with young people today because he was an environmentalist as well as a great poet, and his legacy is so relevant today. And we are thrilled to be collaborating with Philip Wells, the ‘fire poet’ who does so much wonderful outreach work to take poetry to young people, and particularly those who are disadvantaged.”

Rydal Mount, still owned by the Wordsworth family, was the home of William Wordsworth and his family for the second half of his life, and is where he enjoyed the height of his fame and recognition as the Nation’s Poet.

A popular tourist attraction, the house and extensive gardens are open to the public daily. And there’s now a regular programme of events staged there, including poetry readings, talks, concerts, and a Spring Fair to be held at the end of May.

The winning poem will be framed and displayed prominently in the drawing room at the house. The winner will receive a £50 cash prize, a personal trophy, and his or her name will be added to the roll of honour on the plaque at Rydal Mount. There are book prizes for the poets judged as highly commended in the primary and secondary school categories. The closing date for entries is Friday May 20, and details of how to enter can be found at https://rydalmount.wordpress.com/2022/03/16/entry-form-wordsworth-prize-for-young-poets/

Next year, which will be ten years since the competition began, it’s planned to roll it out nationwide to invite entries from young poets throughout the UK.

Meanwhile, the winner from the 2020 competition, which was put on hold during the pandemic, has been announced as Ella Drury, now a pupil at Barrow Sixth Form College. Ella was still at Furness Academy when she wrote her poem, Letting Go.

As the sun set, its smoky blur filled the vinegar-yellow sky;

I couldn’t wait for the darkness.

I saw the glistening stars begin to poke through the cloak of night,


And I knew that if I closed my eyes I’d be able to see you again.


I sat upon a grassy hill, in the middle of nowhere, talking to you,

because I knew you were up there, somewhere.


And as I felt the soft hand of the wind brushing against my cheek,


I knew that you were there with me.


You opened up the clouds and showed me the moon,


And as its soft glow shone onto the swaying grass,


I thought I saw your silhouette.

I could hear your inaudible whisper in the wind, but my mind saw it as illusion.


Why am I here? I know you’re gone, but I still need you with me.

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