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Lest We Forget: Young UK Poets Commemorate Armistice Centenary in Powerful New Book with Foreword by Poet Laureate
Published: 16th November 2018, 12:12pm
Carol Ann Duffy, Imtiaz Dharker and Professor Jason Whittaker with the Highly Commended poets A new book of poetry penned by young people across the UK to commemorate 100 years since the guns of ‘The Great War’ finally fell silent on Armistice Day has been launched.

The Armistice 100 Schools Poetry Collection brings together more than two hundred works by poets aged between nine and eighteen years of age. They were written as part of the University of Lincoln’s Armistice 100 Prize for Schools Poetry Competition in which school pupils across the UK were invited to compose a poem in any form they wished based on the theme of ‘Armistice’.

The Armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany in a railway carriage in the forests of Compiègne in France on 11th November 1918. It agreed to the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front and effectively ended the First World War. It took effect at eleven o'clock that morning —the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" – a date that is now marked in countries around world as a day of remembrance.

There were 544 entries to the competition, and nine overall winners were chosen across three age categories: nine to 12; 13 to 16; and 17 to 18. The book features the three winning entries in each category along with more than 200 shortlisted poems and highly commended entries.

The foreword to the resulting collection was written by the Poet Laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy, who chaired the competition judging panel and also gave permission for her poem Last Post to be published in the book. Fellow judges were Imtiaz Dharker, Winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, and Professor Jason Whittaker, Head of the School of English and Journalism at the University of Lincoln.  The book is prefaced by Diane Lees CBE, Director General of the Imperial War Museums.

Carol Ann Duffy said: “To say that myself and my fellow judges were impressed when reading the entries for this anthology would be a huge understatement. The resulting collection shows not only the young writers awareness of History but their sense – pity and outrage - that The Great War did not end war at all.

“These young poets are to be congratulated and I’m sure that some of the writers here will go on to be among the poets of the future.”

The youngest winner was Lily West, aged 11 from Boston who secured first place in the nine to 12 years category for her poem ‘Your Everlasting Brother’ which was based on letters written by her relative who served in The Great War. Thomas Warriner, aged 15 from Bedfordshire secured first place in the 13 to 16 years category with his poem ‘WWI’. Also placing first in the 17 to 18 years category was Bethany Jane Burrows, 18 from Hampshire with her poem ‘El dia’.

Professor Jason Whittaker, a specialist in the poetry of William Blake, said: “The power of poetry for those who fell in the First World War is something that ensured those terrible events retain their force even today.

“It is because of this power of poetry, which has affected so many school children so deeply for a century, that it has been such a pleasure to be involved with selecting the poems for this commemorative anthology. The level of talent that has been displayed by these young writers has been truly staggering.”

Competition prizes for the winning poets were £300 for first place, £200 for second and £100 for third in each age category. Winners’ schools also received the same value prize.

The Armistice 100 Schools Poetry Collection was supported with sponsorship from local businesses through Visit Lincoln as part of the region’s RAF100 centenary campaign. Copies are available to purchase in hard copy (cover price £5) or e-book via www.lincoln.ac.uk/armistice100
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