Potters Bar pupil named as one of the top young poets in the UK

Lauren Lisk, a pupil at Dame Alice Owen’s from Enfield, has won The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Aw

Lauren Lisk, a pupil at Dame Alice Owen’s from Enfield, has won The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award. Picture: Supplied by Dame Alice Owen's - Credit: Archant

A 14-year-old at a Potters Bar school beat the competition to win a top poetry prize.

The Poetry Society announced the 15 winners of The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, with Lauren Lisk from Dame Alice Owen’s among them after 15,966 poems entered.

The 14-year-old from Enfield said: “When I heard the news, I didn’t believe it. I had entered lots of competitions before, which had never really amounted to anything, and so was really surprised that someone had read my work and actually thought it was something special. Afterwards, I kept reading through the poem, thinking ‘this was good enough?’

“Winning the award, to me, was validation. It showed me that my words could actually make a difference, and made me realise just how special poetry is. It also taught me to believe in myself a bit more, since the judges had now believed in me.

“I am so thankful to the Poetry Society, Keith Jarrett and Maura Dooley, for this chance, and would like to congratulate all the other winning poets and the amazing poets who entered! As well as say thank you to my friends and all my teachers, especially Mrs Friel, as without them, I would never have got this far!

“I know that this award will open up so many doors, including meeting so many creative people, as well as the opportunity to be published, and feel so lucky to have been granted it. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

Maura Dooley, an Iranian poet and one of the judges, said: “If we had thought for a moment that this long year of COVID, of international unrest, of the tragedies that led renewed attention to Black Lives Matter might make humour impossible, or attention to very personal experience tricky, then how wrong we were. As always, it is language that is the most resilient, flexible, musical, colourful substance we have and how these poets moulded it to their own fabulous shapes!

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“Poems came in from all over the world, about all kinds of things written in every kind of way. There were poems of astonishing skill, poems of great tenderness, angry poems, poems that made me laugh and sometimes those were even all the same poem. There were patterns on the page, stories and rhymes, prose poems, haiku and sonnets, there were poems which opened doors to worlds new to me and left me gasping and amazed. What more could a reader ask? Thank you.”

The top 15 poems will be published in a printed winners’ anthology from March 2021.

Lauren’s poem is below:

the Race Card

People always excuse racism with the phrase

“Stop using the race card” as if

The exploitation of blacks

The use of an infamous six letter word

Is all

A game

Like I could use my race card to

Make happy families of

All those who have lost

A brother

A sister

A parent

A child

Like I could use my race card to

Win this game of top trumps

And defeat what some may call kakistocracy

In one of the largest

Yet most broken countries in the world

Like I could use my race card

To stop this game of life where

People are seen as pawns

Through a lens of black and white

And protesting seems like a trivial pursuit

So how can I articulate to you

The fact that this is true?

If I did have a race card

I wouldn’t roll the dice

Of wasting it on you.