06 June 2022  |  Jill Lundberg  |  Posted in: ,

Once again, the poetry of Florence Hal, in Year 13, has impressed the judges! Following her success at last year’s Ilkley Festival, Florence has been crowned the winner of the 2022 young poet’s competition at the Stratford-Upon-Avon Literary Festival.

Florence’s poem will be featured in a special book with the other winning entries. The judges said that the standard of entries was enormously high this year and that Florence’s poem was ‘a lovely piece of writing created with humour, skill and a lovely imagination.’

Florence heard about the competition through the Festival’s website where they were promoting multiple poetry and book competitions for all ages. The competition had no set theme and the budding poets were invited to write about anything they wanted to. Florence said: “I was inspired to write about swimming pools as I always find them to be such bizarre but beautiful locations – swimming and water in general are known to have many positive effects on wellbeing, but it still feels really strange to essentially be having a bath with a bunch of strangers! So I really wanted to write about this with the extended metaphor of an affair, to get across the love we can have for seemingly unimportant, everyday things. I found this to be a really fun and playful idea that I enjoyed writing.”

Florence added: “As it had been a while since I had sent the poem off to the competition, I was really not expecting to do as well as I did. I received an email from the festival and it started by saying how many entries the competition had had, so I was expecting it to be a rejection email, but then it said that I had won and I was so excited! It suddenly gave me a massive confidence boost in regard to my own writing, as I realised that people had read my poem and actually liked it!”

Last year, Florence was runner-up in the Ilkley Literature Festival’s young people’s competition and she has a couple of competitions on the horizon, but because of her exams she hasn’t been able to write as much as she would like. She plans to write a lot over the summer holidays though!

Florence began writing during the first lockdown of 2020, but she started to write more seriously last year. She finds that the more she writes the more critical she becomes of old poems, but she thinks that is a good sign of development.

Provided Florence gets the right A-level grades, she is planning on reading English Literature and Language at The University of Oxford. Florence said: “It still hasn’t really sunk in yet and I can’t believe I can actually say that! I am incredibly excited to start my degree and develop my love of English Literature.”

Rebecca Weston, Lead Teacher for English, added: “Florence, once again, has shown herself to be an accomplished poet. Her witty poem takes a mundane activity and elevates it, achieving a complex balance of emotions: it is both funny and moving – quite a feat when your subject matter is a swimming pool. Her poem was a deserved winner.

“It has been wonderful to see Florence develop as a poet – I can see the way that she has been inspired by the poetry we have studied at A-level, but also the way in which she is defining her own voice and style. More than anything, Florence understands the importance and relevance of poetry, both as a mode of self-expression and as a way to explore important issues and ideas. I feel confident that we will be reading her work as a published poet before too long.”

You can read Florence’s poem here.

The Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival takes place each year and features a variety of events including celebrity authors and personalities, panel discussions, writing workshops, guidance on getting published and discussions on politics and current affairs. The Festival takes authors into schools, and has a Children’s Book day featuring authors, illustrators and workshops. The festival also runs projects based in the community, working especially with the elderly.

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