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Well-versed young bards sought for renowned poetry competition

The Christopher Tower Poetry Competition, the UK’s most valuable prize for young poets, is once again open for entries, and this year students between 16 and 18 years of age are challenged to write a poem on the theme of ‘The Details’.

Launched in 2000, the Tower Prize is recognised as one of the most prestigious literary awards for this age group. The first prize is £3,000, with £1,000 and £500 going to the second and third prize winners.

In addition to individual prizes, the students’ schools and colleges also receive cash awards.

Northern Ireland students have made their mark on Tower Poetry. In 2009, Sullivan Upper School’s Tim Carson claimed first prize of £3,000 for his poem Is Life Likely?, and last year Dalriada Grammar School’s Hannah Tran was highly commended for her poem The Sirens Tell Their Tale. Both travelled to Oxford to attend the annual prizegiving at Christ Church, where they were presented with a prize and a cheque for their schools.

Hannah said: “For me, entering the competition was a brilliant experience. It's very important that institutions such as Tower Poetry continue existing and encouraging young writers.”

This year’s competition is being overseen by Dr Jennifer Orr, Christopher Tower poetry lecturer at Christ Church.

Dr Orr, a former pupil of Glenlola Collegiate School, Bangor, said: “We know that Northern Ireland has produced some of the finest poets in the world and it is my aspiration to see many more young people in the province gaining the confidence to write.”

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Entrants will have their work judged by contemporary poets: American-born Carrie Etter, Ireland’s Bernard O’Donoghue, and one of Northern Ireland’s finest living poets, Peter McDonald.

The competition is open to all 16-18-year-olds in full or part-time education. For information visit www.towerpoetry.org.uk/prize, email: info@towerpoetry.org.uk or call 01 865 286 591.

Closing date for entries is Friday, March 1, 2013.

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