The first ever Manchester Writing for Children Prize invited the submission of poetry to be read by children within the age group of five to 12.
"The 2014 Manchester Writing for Children Prize was the perfect way to celebrate existing and new poets writing for children. The prize is the first of its kind so our fingers were crossed... but from Australia to the USA and throughout the UK poets confirmed how vital and inspiring they found this genre to be. Philip Gross said, We looked for poems that said: No, we don't think that you are the average child, the average nine year old, or the average boy or girl. You (and you, and you) are unique variations on the human, and each of you (as Walt Whitman said of himself) contain multitudes. The pleasure for us was to find the proof, among the entries, that children's poetry can contain multitudes too."
"This competition was a joy to judge and it was fascinating to encounter so many perceptions of what poetry for children can be. The exceptional range of new poems and new voices has proved that this invaluable part of the wider poetry world is alive and well. It feels as though a door has been thrown open and the world of children's poetry just breathed in."
The 2014 Manchester Writing for Children Prize asked entrants to submit a portfolio of three to five poems for readers aged 5-12. The Prize was judged by poets Mandy Coe, Imtiaz Dharker and Philip Gross. Selected pieces from the short-listed, long-listed and highly commended portfolios will be collected in a new anthology, Let in the Stars. The anthology will be launched at a special edition Carol Ann Duffy and Friends poetry and music night at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester on the evening of Tuesday 1st July 2014. The event forms part of the 2014 Manchester Children's Book Festival, will be hosted by Carol Ann and will feature readings from the judges and each of the short-listed finalists before the winner of the £2,000 first prize is announced.
“What is a ‘poem for a child’? Clear language, sharp editing, avoidance of cliché are the key elements of good poetry for readers of all ages. And if we include narrative, imagery, voice, rhythm, the subtle drive of full or half rhyme, free or blank verse, it seems that the only limitation of this genre is our preconception of child-as-reader. The attraction and influence of children’s poetry is profound, and – despite containing only a fraction of the infrastructure (publications, prizes, courses) available for those writing for adults – many classic and contemporary poets have discovered the pleasures of writing for both adults and children.
“This international prize is a first of its kind, aiming to celebrate this genre by welcoming a portfolio of work from established and new writers. The resulting anthology, a professionally produced and illustrated book of poetry for readers aged five – 12, will be launched during the Manchester Children’s Book Festival, where winning poets will be invited to read alongside UK poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. Whether you are a seasoned children’s poet or a poet venturing into this genre for the first time – we look forward to seeing what you think poems for children can be!”
Chair of Judges Mandy Coe’s 2010 collection If You Could See Laughter was short-listed for a Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) Children’s Poetry Award. Author of five poetry collections, she won the Ilkley Festival Poetry Prize in 2006, Liverpool’s Ted Walters Memorial Prize in 2008 and was joint winner of the first ever Manchester Poetry Prize. She coordinated “Survive and Subvert”, a highly-acclaimed conference for teachers on maintaining passionate creativity in the classroom in the face of arts funding cuts, at the 2012 Manchester Children’s Book Festival.
Imtiaz Dharker is a poet, artist and documentary film-maker. Her collections of poems include Purdah, Postcards from god, I speak for the devil, The terrorist at my table and Leaving Fingerprints. She has had ten solo exhibitions of drawings in Hong Kong SAR, India, London and New York. She scripts and directs films, many of them for non-government organisations in India, working in the area of shelter, education and health for women and children. She joined Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke to judge the 2008 Manchester Poetry Prize.
Philip Gross has published nine collections poetry, among them The Water Table (winner of the 2009 T.S. Eliot Prize), I Spy Pinhole Eye (Wales Book of The Year 2010), and Off Road To Everywhere (CLPE Award for Children’s Poetry 2011). He is the author of ten highly-praised novels for young people and is also Professor of Creative Writing at the University of South Wales. On joining the panel, he says: “This is a great initiative – putting children's poetry in the same league of seriousness as the other Manchester prizes.”