Edmonton school pupil named among ‘young poets of the year’

Bea Unwin wrote a poem inspired by her struggles with her identity and mental health

Bea Unwin collecting her award
Bea Unwin collecting her award

A pupil at an Edmonton school has been named one of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2023 after writing a poem exploring some of her personal struggles.

Bea Unwin, who is in year eleven at The Latymer School in Haselbury Road, had previously been shortlisted twice in the top 100 of the prestigious awards organised by The Poetry Society, but this year went all the way and was named among the 15 winners.

Bea says her winning poem, Suggestions for First Love, “is about my experience of how I live and I am viewed as a young queer person, struggling with my mental health, and this was my way of exploring that”.

She told the Dispatch: “For as long as I can remember I have always loved writing. Most of my poems are quite personal. I aim to write as often as I can but I do take time to perfect them.

“It [writing poetry] comes quite naturally to me, but I have done a lot of workshops and have been refining my style to make sure they are the best they can be.”

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, founded in 1998, is an opportunity for any young poet aged from eleven to 17 to accelerate their writing career. With 15,800 entries this year from over 6,600 young people from across the UK and 119 countries worldwide, Foyle is the largest competition of its kind.

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Judge Jane Yeh, commenting on this year’s entries, said: “I was astonished – and humbled – to read so many poems brimming over with inventiveness, ambition, and sheer quality.”

Bea says her English teacher at Latymer, Ms Berry, has been “very supportive” of her entering poems for the awards. Asked whether will poetry be something she continues with after finishing school, Bea added: “It is definitely something I want to pursue further on in life.”

Watch Bea Unwin performing her poem on YouTube:

Dispatch readers are welcome to nominate their own ‘Edmonton Youth Hero’ – an inspirational young person (16 or under) from Edmonton who has made a valuable contribution to their local community. Simply email your nomination to [email protected]

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