Top line achievement for Scotland’s only winner in worldwide poetry competition

A Kilgraston School Sixth Form pupil has become the only top-placed winner from Scotland in the global Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2020 competition, where only fifteen places are awarded.

Anna outside Kilgraston School having heard about her Foyle Young Poet Award
Anna outside Kilgraston School having heard about her Foyle Young Poet Award

14th October 2020 — Anna's work ‘Total’ - equating exam stress for teenagers to a balance sheet - was chosen from a field of 6,000 entrants and over 15,000 poems. First, Second and Third places were not awarded, with all fifteen winners earning equal significance.

“The poem was written the week before results day, it’s a poem about exam anxiety,” Anna, commented on her submission. She continued, “Every line was given a monetary value to equate to the emotional strain I was experiencing. However, you can’t put a price-tag on personality; I am so much more than just results. The final line - ‘Trying to add up the breeze’ - represents the impossible, like catching smoke, it’s a poetically expressed concept of being unquantifiable. I think the judges all had their own results day memory so this struck a chord.”

Entries were selected by two judges, distinguished poet Maura Dooley and UK Poetry Slam Champion, Keith Jarrett, whose work explores Black British and Caribbean history and religion.

Dorothy MacGinty, Head teacher at Kilgraston School, said: “Anna has been an inspirational pupil to teach throughout her seven years with us. We have witnessed her talent and enthusiasm for the subject of English rapidly develop and could not be more thrilled for her.”

In normal circumstances, competition winners would be invited to attend a prestigious ceremony at the Southbank Centre in London. However, the on-going situation with Covid-19 required the move to an online celebration. In addition to the digital ceremony on Thursday 15 October, Anna’s winning poem was published on the The Poetry Society’s website and featured on its YouTube and Vimeo channels. Anna will also receive a range of prizes, including an invitation to attend a writing residential course at the Arvon Centre, ‘The Hurst’, during February 2021 half term. At the ‘ceremony’, Anna read her poem to the other 14 winners, assembled guests and judges. “It was still a very moving experience. Such a shame not to actually be with the other winners and to meet the judges face-to-face but a momentous opportunity none-the-less,” she said.

Commenting on her Anna’s success, Margaret Saunders, her English teacher, said: “Anna has a unique talent. She has the ability to come at a subject from a totally unexpected angle creating an element of surprise and delight. The overall effect seems effortless and light-hearted but belies a deep awareness of structure and the potency of language. She is always a complete pleasure to teach.”

About Kilgraston School

Right from the moment that you pass under the rather grand stone archway that marks the entrance to Kilgraston, it’s clear you’ve arrived at a rather special place. Travel down the driveway, over the stream and past fields of horses until you reach our Georgian red sandstone mansion. Inside, our girls’ artwork adorns every wall, and the sounds of music rehearsals echo down each corridor. Across the front lawn – to what was once the stable building but is now our bright and cheery prep school – girls laugh, play and learn together. Only 45 minutes from Edinburgh airport yet Kilgraston is secluded and girls are free to roam around the 54 acres of pristine Scottish parkland.

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