8 October

Poetry for art’s sake

Posted in Culture, Music & Art

Winners of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2014 were announced on 2 October, National Poetry Day, at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London. The guest of honour was children’s author Julia Donaldson. All 100 winning poets attended the prize-giving ceremony. The top fifteen Foyle Young Poets of the Year will also attend a residential writing week at one of the prestigious Arvon Centres. All winning poets have received book prizes and have been made Youth Members of the Poetry Society, the UK’s leading poetry organisation.

This year’s competition included a record-breaking 13,630 poems sent in by 7,603 young poets from 78 countries, making it the largest poetry competition in the world. Among this year’s winners (the top fifteen winners and 85 commended entrants) are young poets from France, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Canada and the USA, many.

Writing in The Spectator, Jonathan McAloon commented, ‘Here were a group of young poets who’d discovered the value of art and, what’s more, art for its own exploratory sake… If there’s a patronisingly positive message to be taken from this, it isn’t that these guys have a “bright future”, or poetry is in “safe hands”: it’s that these guys care about art, even art for art’s sake, and that can be enough.’

One of this year’s winners is Hannah Keyte, a thirteen-year-old from Beckenham, south-east London. Her entry is called After Pied Beauty. Pied Beauty is the famous curtal sonnet by Gerald Manley Hopkins, written in 1877 but not published until 1918 when it was included in his posthumous Collected Poems. The sonnet is noted for its celebration of inscape, ‘the quality of a thing that makes it uniquely itself and nothing else’. Below are reproduced both poems.

Gerald Manley Hopkins, Pied beauty

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Hannah Keyte, After Pied Beauty

Thank you for the pungent smell of a newly painted room,
For the smooth feeling of the cold side of a pillow,
For the bareness of a lightning-struck tree,
The lonesome feather sticking out of a pillow,
And the brave piece of branch peeping out of a hedge.

For everything immaculate, irregular and irritating:
For the addiction to popping fuchsia buds,
For the crispy texture of a horse’s forehead,
And the magic height of the sky.


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