Amy Beverley, who is a Year 13 student at St Leonard’s Catholic School in Durham has won £3000 after being named the winner of the Oxford University Tower Poetry Competition for the best young poets in Britain.
The 17-year-old says her sonnet ‘Dance of the Prisoner’, which she wrote in her front room, was inspired by lockdown and was chosen from over 600 entries across the UK.
Amy accepted her prize virtually at the awards ceremony held at Christ Church College’s Great Hall, made famous by the Harry Potter films after reading out her winning poem alongside six other finalists.
She said: “I was thrilled to win this award, ever since my childhood I’ve found solace in writing and have so many incredible experiences and successes as a result of my love for creative writing.
“In 2020, I was fortunate enough to have my poem The Cold Within Him published in an anthology by the Young Writers’ Competition and since then, my confidence has blossomed.”
The young poet, who is studying English Literature, History and Geography A Levels was praised for her poem which judge and Ghanaian poet Kwame Dawes described as ‘a touching chronicle and chart of our time and for our moment.’
Quentin Hughes, head of Sixth Form said: “This award is hugely impressive and everyone in school is so very proud of Amy.
“She took the initiative and it’s paid off – there is something magical about the fact that this fight to keep poetry alive is being so ably led by Amy, a North-East girl at a State Catholic School, from her own front room.”
The student said the poem was inspired by the pandemic and the struggle that everyone, but particularly young people have had with so many opportunities and freedoms taken away.
Mrs Grehan-Bradley, head of English at St Leonard’s said: “This is a great achievement for Amy and we are delighted that her hard work and talent has been recognised.
“Amy is a fantastic student with a real passion for English in its many forms, and is hoping to read English at Edinburgh University. We are so proud of her.”