Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Interview with Christopher Reid, Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award

As a judge this year, what will you be looking for in the winning poems?

Pretty much what I’d be looking out for in any poem: signs of imagination, of feeling, of original thought, of a sense of form, of a musical ear.

Do you feel there is enough being done to encourage and support both young poets as well as those further along in their career?

If exams didn’t govern everything in school life, if the curriculum allowed space for the sort of wide, deep and curiosity-led reading that is the surest grounding for any writer’s career, there might be hope. 

Do you feel poetry is shedding its somewhat old-fashioned and traditional stereotype and becoming more appealing to a wider audience?

Poetry is and always had been in a state of self-renewal. The motivation for renewal comes mainly from the young, dissatisfied with what their elders have handed down to them, but whether this leads to a wider audience, or merely a different one, I couldn’t be sure.

Can you recommend any poetry collections for 11-17 year-olds?

'The Rattle Bag', edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes and 'Emergency Kit', edited by Jo Shapcott and Matthew Sweeney, will introduce new readers what some of our finest poets consider some of the finest poems in English.

Do you have any words of advice or tips for budding poets?

Keep working at the art and enjoying it – simultaneously.

A huge thanks to Christopher for answering our questions. For further information on 2012's Foyle Young Poets competition please visit

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