Here are the winning and recognised entries in the 12-18 Age Group. The Penned in Poetry competition was well-received with many entries received from around the world in each age category. The entries were judged by a panel against ten different criteria, including assonance and alliteration, form and flow, rhyme and rhythm, and overall impact. Here is more information about the judging criteria and what they mean.

The panel was made up of highly acclaimed, award-winning professional poet, performer and educator Joshua Seigal, author of the Opening Doors series and educationalist Bob Cox, Potential Plus UK Young Reporter Fran Glover, and mother/daughter team family members Martha and Caroline Hooton-Picard.

The judges commented that the overall standard was very high, and some thoughtful and powerful work was produced. “These young poets have shown us all that there is a huge spirit of inventiveness, resilience and care out there. There is evidence of top-level potential for writing and crafting ideas in so many ways. Authentic ‘voices’ shone through in many poems. What a pleasure to see such a wide age range involved too. Creativity is alive and well in lockdown.”

Winner – First Place

Naina Zilbermints.  Age: 18 The Deafening Sounds

Joint Second Place

Olivia Beling. Age: 12 A Kaleidoscope of Wishes

Kate Lucas. Age: 17 (Don’t) Wish You Were Here

Third Place

Rhea Dailey. Age: 13 Ghost

Highly Commended

Annabel Jervis. Age: 12 Lost

Nikita Dinesh Yadav. Age: 18 Staying at Home



First Place

The judges really loved this poem – they commented on its professionalism, the choice of words and the impact.

The Deafening Sounds by Naina Zilbermints (aged 18)

I hear the birds chirping on their branches
Sun casting their short shadows on the grass.
No murmur in the streets
For they were silent, empty odd-
Sight of none, voice of none.
I went outside today, hoping to feel
The sun burn my face. The windows had paled its rays
So I rub my hands clean

The sky once grey with soot, now blue
Ground once oil now grass
Life buzzes while all is still.
Through the looking grass of the iron gates
I observe the empty street,
One car then another, glide every once in a while
A masked man makes his way down the empty market
Larvate lady passes in the opposite direction
The gulf between them growing.
So I rub my hands clean

The news channel turns to static,
Numbers, locations, the nameless
Two thousand two hundred, four thousand and three
Wuhan, Paris, London- down the street
You wonder if it had been your mother or a face in the crowd
So I rub my hands clean.

The silence of the streets and your home is deafening
Life’s voice has become mute.
I hear Americans protest the silence
Exposed women and men and their kids
Scream with mouths open wide
Guns blazing into the sky, cars honking
Road blocking. While the ambulances stand still
Rednecks fuelled by Sisyphean idleness-
Protest the ill.
So I rub my hands clean.

Time and reflection,
Self-reflection and time.
I had seen enough of myself by now
I do not look like myself anymore, only-
An animated shell of a person remains.
Grey skin, wild hair and death in the eyes.
So I rub my hands clean one more time.



Joint Second Place

The judges loved the imagery of the colours in this poem and commented that it felt bright and cheerful.

A Kaleidoscope of Wishes by Olivia Beling (aged 12)

I wake up to another day
Confined in the walls of my home
But today I have got a way
Of making my support be shown

I’ll paint a glorious rainbow
Stick it up on the windowsill
To make sure the NHS know
I’ll send them my wishes, I will

So, after I’ve had my breakfast
I delve for some paints in the shed
The rich colours; the most precious
Paint the thoughts that are in my head

Scarlet red leaps over the page
As it fades into clementine
Sunshine yellow bursts from its cage
Weaving between a zesty lime

Sky blue dances under the green
Intertwining with sapphire
Lilac flows as a glossy sheen
And with it all my desires

Desires for people in need
To never, at all, feel alone
So, I’ll let my colours be freed
And all from my very own home



Joint Second Place

The judges loved the form and flow of this poem, commenting that the sonnet form chosen was impressive.

(Don’t) Wish You Were Here by Kate Lucas (aged 17)

Life in a box too small for its corners
Time ticking on, going nowhere special
Best laid plans lie discarded and dormant
Spoiled like softness of spring’s last petal

Shoes wait unworn in the rack by the door
The noise of untaken footsteps echoes
Throughout the hall, eyes stare at walls boring
Holes, tracing the path of the highs and the lows

Unwished words for proper dreams, not these fake
Sort, of maybes, and tomorrows, in time,
Roaming like a feral dog with nowhere to roam
Awake at strange hours, learning to mime

The actions of the day, over and over
And over again until it is over



Third Place

The judges said this poem reflected well the claustrophobia many must be feeling at the moment. They commented that the rhyming used was unique and that the poem was technically very good.

Ghost by Rhea Dailey (aged 13)

A stranger stares back at me from the mirror’s glass
In reality, it’s me, but as the seconds and days pass
Life turns into routine, a string of running code
The unfamiliarity of my own abode
I feel numb like a ghost that tired of feeling so many emotions
Scenic views mean nothing, my mind is better than any ocean
The comfort that is sleep, my thoughts feel more real than words
It protects me from despair, but I feel as free as a caged bird



Highly Commended

The judges thought this poem was beautiful and had a good overall impact.

Lost by Annabel Jervis  (aged 12)

To me, you are lost
Like a leaf from a tree
That the wind has taken
Away from me

To me, you are gone
Like a boat out to sea
From the edge of the quay
Like the day to a perfect dream

To others, you are there
You are happy and free
You have a life, without me
And a home in which to sleep

But to me, you are lost
You won’t be coming back
But I will still be there
A night for your dream
A beach for your boat
A leaf on a tree
Hoping, you might come back to me



Highly Commended

The judges thought this poem was original and had a good overall impact.

Staying at Home by Nikita Dinesh Yadav (aged 18)

Do not get out of your homes every desert is deserted,
Basti-Basti, Gali Mohalla is Hazratganj crematorium.

The colour of the flying weather has faded in the markets,
Silently guarded is the kingdom of silence.

Panic death came to fruition in Fiza,
Crusade – Jihad is the battle to sit in the houses.

Why will you come out on the road when you are safe in Home
Sit in your own people, if you love your family.

How long will one day India win the cry of Corona,
The power of Navratri will fight, Ramjaan is coming.

See Joshua Seigal’s tips for writing poetry at: Tips for Budding Poets and find out more about his books here: Little Lemur Laughing and Welcome to My Crazy Life.

Discover more about Bob Cox’s Opening Doors series here: Opening Doors to Famous Poetry and Prose and Opening Doors to Quality Writing: Ideas for Writing Inspired by Great Writers for Ages 10 to 13