St Francis girls win top poetry prize

Three children from St Francis Catholic Primary School in Caterham got to take to the stage at the Southbank Centre recently, after winning a top prize for their poetry performance.

Francesca, Hollie and Isla, 7, were invited to the Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award (CLiPPA), hosted by the Centre For Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE), after judges watched a video of them performing The Poem Says No by Kate Wakeling as part of CLPE’s Shadowing Scheme.

Francesca, Hollie and Isla with poet Kate Wakeling

(Above: Francesca, Hollie and Isla with Kate Wakeling at the CLiPPA 2022)

Although the girls describe themselves as nervous, Kate, whose collection of poems, Cloud Soup, was shortlisted for the CLiPPA 2022, said:

“Francesca, Isla and Hollie were magnificent. They performed with such assurance, wit and panache. I was amazed to watch my poem delivered so beautifully, and I hope they feel thoroughly proud of themselves. Quite a few people mentioned they thought their performance stole the show and I entirely agree!”

Kate also spoke about the contribution the CLiPPA makes to children’s poetry in the UK:

“The prize calls attention to the rich and diverse world of children's poetry, bringing national attention to this rather niche but no less important area of publishing. Poetry can be a crucial lifeline for children: it offers space for the imagination, for difficult emotions, and for complex, playful thinking in ways no other kind of writing quite matches. I'm so grateful to CLPE for making the prize happen and was thrilled to be shortlisted this year.”

Francesca summed up their experience:

'I love poetry and performing with my friends. We felt very nervous about being on such a big stage and we kept on laughing in the rehearsals. It was very scary as there was a big audience. It was nice meeting Kate Wakeling who wrote the poem.'

This year’s event, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, was hosted by Michael Rosen, who won the CLiPPA in 2021 with his collection On the Move: Poems About Migration.

The CLiPPA, established in 2003, is the only award solely dedicated to published poetry for children in the UK. Find out more:

Francesca, Hollie and Isla

(Above: Francesca, Hollie and Isla)

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