This is the Year
Manifestos for Collective Futures
We are taken in and out of bedrooms, taken into the streets, alternate realities and anywhere the body and mind could have reached whilst in confinement. These poems were also manifestos for what our collective futures can look like after a year as impactful as the last!
It was incredibly hard to pick one person as a winner. I hope this boosted the poets’ confidence and at the same time I hope that the feedback sent to each and every one of the entrants will show them that they too are a winner for having the courage to go through this process that will now be witnessed by anyone who comes across these words.
I recommend everyone to read these poems. Slowly. Take in what these young poets have done in response to an offer for making unrestrained poems under the constraints of poetic form, lockdown, first time writing etc. The work is beautiful, sensitive, and truthful. You might be coming back to these words more than you expect.
Well done to all the poets!
Belinda Zhawi is a Zimbabwean born writer, sound artist & educator currently based in London. Her work explores Afro-diasporic research & narratives; how art & education can be used as intersectional tools. She is the co-founder of, literary arts platform, BORN::FREE. Belinda experiments with sound as MA.MOYO, & heavily collaborates within the ever-growing South London jazz & beat-making scene. Belinda is the author of Small Inheritances (ignitionpress, 2018) and micro-pamphlet, South of South East (Bad Betty Press, 2019).
It was an honour to be asked to put together a poetry competition for young people from South London who were interested in words, in collaboration with Theatre Peckham. The project was really about thinking of the present and imagining new futures. I was once a product of similar competitions and highly benefited from the processes.
‘This is the Year’ was mainly about reflecting on the impact made by the year 2020 but through the lens of home, food, culture, music and poetry. The competition pack consisted of three main exercises, a poetry booklet, and some worksheets. It was designed to be as accessible as possible to those who wanted to take part regardless of age.
Another aim of the project was to create a virtual, portable space that would allow participants to engage with the writing prompts wherever they were. It was designed with hopes that there would be no restrictions with moving around and more freedom compared to the early parts of the year 2020. Unfortunately - during the time of the competition – the UK was back in lockdown, leaving little room for outdoor exploration.
Reading the entries, I was bowled over by the level of commitment shown by the poets. The poems were stunning! Thoughtful. From playful to experimental - the poems covered a lot of ground and offered various perspectives of what the year 2020 had meant to each poet.
The exercises they responded to were both insular and universal and I felt that, while reading the poems, most of the poems contained this balance within them.
READ THE POEMS