Here are the winning and recognised entries in the 8-11 Age Group of the Penned in Poetry competition. The 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

Amelie Elise Kilner. Age: 11 Birdcage

Joint Second Place

Elaine R. Age: 9 On My Window

Yena Park. Age: 11 Bubble

Third Place

Freya Crump. Age: 10 Staying at Home

Highly Commended

Aanvi S. Age: 8 Creativity is in You

Kate Schwartzman. Age: 10 I Stare Out My Window

Archie Vigar. Age: 10 Looking through the Window

Islay Bowman. Age: 11 The Danger of Love

Maria Jaramillo. Age: 11 Rainbow



First Place

The judges thought the metaphors in the poem illustrated lockdown really well. They felt it was powerful and technically excellent.

Birdcage by Amelie Elise Kilner (aged 11)

I am a bird in a cage,
Trying to break free.
Enclosed, confined to this prison,
I flap my wings, but the lock holds fast.
I can no longer fly.
I am a fish in a net,
Engulfed in darkness.
Stuck, unable to move on,
I writhe and wriggle, but the fibres are relentless.
I can no longer swim.
I am a creature in a zoo,
Cared for behind thick walls,
Forced to bear life for others’ benefit.
I try to escape, but there is nowhere else to go.
I can no longer choose.
I am a girl in a house,
Desperate for change.
Accompanied, still feeling alone,
I dream of autonomy, but reality snatches it back.
I can no longer see the world.
I am a bird in a cage



Joint Second Place

The judges thought repetition in this poem gave it a powerful effect.

On My Window by Elaine Victoria Runtukahu (aged 9)

On my window,
I saw the trees dancing upon the breeze,
It’s like they are calling me out to join them,
But, it is only on my window.

Not for the men and women who work to fight with this virus.

Not for the men and women who deliver all things for us.

Not for the men and women who help us for our medicines.

Not for the men and women who teach us from a far.

Not for the men and women who drive us to buy things.
And for that,
From my window,
I want to say thank you very much.

From my window,
I want to say that you all are heroes without a cape.

From my window,
I want to say,
Virus… you are not as pretty as your name ‘Corona’,
Please…..go away sooner,
So I can dance with the trees.



Joint Second Place

The judges loved the extended metaphor in the poem and felt that it had a really good impact

Bubble by Yena Park (aged 11)

When the clock on the wall is no longer relevant
When I can’t tell day from night
When I don’t know how to manage time

Inside the bubble
A world of creativity
Is trapped in a cage
Waiting to be let free

Inside the bubble
There are
No sports
No activities
No school
It’s all quarantine

Danger lurks outside
Be careful who you touch
Or who you talk with

Hatred unleashes its anger outside the bubble
I stay inside
I can’t act
I can’t change the things outside my bubble

My bubble is the only thing I can change
Futile efforts provide no results
My bubble never changes
In a never-ending loop
My brain grows dull
And tired
Stop this torture

The bubble is relentless
You can never go outside
You can never harness your outdoor passions
The bubble drains your motivation and energy
You are left with nothing

When the bubble starts to weaken
I pound against it
I search outside the bubble in hopes of freedom
News from outside the bubble reach my husk but alas,
The bubble traps me inside

Somewhere else
Somewhere I know
Somewhere that is deep in my heart
There is no bubble
They don’t require the bubble
They are free

My husk rams into the bubble, invigorated
It begins to deflate like a helium balloon
A spark of emotion manifests itself
I ram against the bubble again
Suddenly, it is tough like concrete
I never know when I’ll get outside

The news outside strengthens the bubble
They set a deadline for when the bubble will burst
May 16 the bubble will weaken
We can burst it

My heart fills with joy
My husk bubbles up again
I am a person with a deadline
I need deadlines
They give me motivation
They give me passion

I look at the bubble
I smile
I know it’s there
I accept the bubble
I know it’ll burst soon
The bubble may come back
I am ready for the bubble to come back
Are you ready for the bubble to come back?



Third Place

The judges said that this poem left them with a feeling of optimism and they loved the change of perspective and the overall impact this gave.

Staying at Home by Freya Crump  (aged 10)

When you’re stuck at home,
There are many random things you do,
Like drawing with an oven glove,
And walking six miles too,

When you’re stuck at home,
The schoolwork is just as bad,
There are so many boring things to do,
It sometimes drives you mad,

When you’re stuck at home,
You’ll find you cannot spend your purse,
For six months, twelve months,
Or maybe even worse,


When you’re SAFE at home,
Your pets (especially mine),
Will always be here,
All the time,

When you’re SAFE at home,
You’ll find time for everything,
Like drawing, painting, cooking,
You’ll even find time to sing,

When you’re SAFE at home,
Joy will spread like a disease,
And the worried feeling about Covid-19,
Will slowly start to ease,

Remember that you’re safe not stuck,
Fun times will still come your way,
And if you ever get bored at this time,
Remember, it will all end one day!



Highly Commended

The judges thought this poem had very good technical strengths

Creativity is in You by Aanvi S. (aged 8)

Staying at home is
Quite like a game
Creativity is calling
Our name.
As old as you get
There is still hope in this time
Your creative side unfolds.
Paint can be a lifesaver
It is true in this time
Take the chance
To be you.
Your creative side
Is about to unfold
Lockdown is a creative hole.



Highly Commended

The judges thought that this poem was beautiful to read

I Stare Out My Window by Kate Schwatzman  (aged 10)

I stare out my window
only to see,
two people
outside on the street.
I feel so sad
I can’t walk around
On my face is a frown.

My friends and I
Want to see the playground
Except we know
that it’s all brown
no colorful shirts, no colorful cleats
just the sound of the lonely street.

No one believes
what the world has become
this all is happening
fast as the rising sun.

I stare out my window
only to see
two people
on the street.

Internet’s down
I have nothing to play
The only thing
I can really do
is say,
“I stare out my window
only to see
two people
on the street”.

Life is now lonely
without all my friends
I just can’t wait
until this tragedy ends.

I stare out my window
only to see,
two people
outside on the street.

Both look sad,
and now I can see
it’s because
We’ve all faced defeat.

I stare out my window
only to see,
two people outside
on the street.



Highly Commended

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

Looking through the Window by Archie Vigar (aged 10)

Looking through the window I can see

a restless flock of birds flying around
not sure of where to go, not sure
of where their end is

Looking through the window I can see

next door’s tree, it’s fairy lights
for the Thursday clap shine
red, yellow, green – how
many there are I don’t know

Looking through the window I can see
me. My reflection shines back
at me from the clear glass.
There are spiders’
webs with dew
dropping off them

Looking through the window



Highly Commended

The judges thought this poem was beautiful, original and had good impact

The Danger of Love by Islay Bowman  (aged 11)

His fingers pressed lightly on the piano keys,
As he swayed back and forth over his hands,
The day his love drowned in the black sea,
He tore out his hair in strands,

The music rang as clear as day,
And a glass tear ran down his face,
He could feel his loves soft lips touching his,
And her slim body dressed in black lace,

Her eyes like marbles full of sunsets and storms,
And the gentle cool dancing of ice,
Freezing the fire of love that burnt his heart,
To have those eyes back he would pay any price…



Highly Commended

The judges thought this poem was technically very good and had a good rhythm

Rainbow by Maria Jaramillo  (aged 11)

Rainbows brighten the skies,
This one will brighten our lives,
Fight on NHS,
Our knights in shining scrubs,
We clap for you on Thursdays,
But our thoughts are with you always,
Those infected please be strong,
Those self-isolating please carry on,
Protect yourself but also others,
Brothers; sisters; fathers; mothers,
We can all do our part,
We all have it in our heart,
I wish for peace,
Because our love for this world will never cease,
Please be brave,
And eventually Covid will cave,
Be patient and keep on fighting
And if we do so – we will witness the whole world uniting.

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 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.