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In collaboration with Theatre Peckham

This is the Year: 
Poetry Competition

Calling poets and spoken word artists aged 11-16 with a story to tell about Coronavirus and life in lockdown!

Competition Details

16th November 2020 - 18th December 2020

Free to submit


Hana Riazuddin

Online workshop with Belinda Zhawi: 30th November, 5pm - 6:30pm 

Free @ Theatre Peckham

‘This is the Year’ is a poetry and spoken word competition for young people aged 11-16 to share their experiences and stories about life during the Coronavirus pandemic.


Coronavirus and lockdown have altered the world we live in. We’ve had to make changes – big and small – to our everyday lives. The pandemic has transformed how and where we learn, play and connect to the outside world and people we love.


At King’s College London, we want to know what life has been like for you and how you feel about it. We want to improve pandemic life for young people and to make recommendations to policymakers on what changes can be made to better support you and other young people during this time. 

In order to do this, we need your help. 


This is the Year’ encourages you to use poetry to explore and express the moments, feeling, places and people that have influenced you during these unusual times.


You can enter a written poem or a spoken word audio or video performance. We don’t mind what you chose just so long as it is inspired by your life in the pandemic. 

​It is not necessary to have good spelling or perfect grammar to enter the competition. Entries will be judged on originality and creativity.


Check out editing tips from our judge, Belinda Zhawi, to find out more about what we're looking for. 

You might already have a burning idea or begun to write some lines already, but if you're not sure how to get started don't worry! 


Check out our resource pack and writing tasks or sign up to the online workshop @ Theatre Peckham to help you make a poem worthy of coming first place!


Who can enter 

The call is open to all young people aged 11-16 who live, study or attend a library or youth centre in Lambeth and Southwark. 

The competition is free. 

The prizes 

There is a first prize (a laptop) and a second a prize for a highly commended entry (a voucher for Theatre Peckham).


All shortlisted entries selected for the Time Capsule will receive a signed copy of Belinda Zhawi's poetry pamphlet, 'Small Inheritances' (Ignited Press). 


Our team of judges (poet Belinda Zhawi, the Utopia Now team, and Monaé Robinson @Theatre Peckham) will look at all entries and create a shortlist. 

From the shortlist, 10 will be selected for the Coronavirus Time Capsule. All Time Capsule poems and prize winners will be announced in early January 2021. If you are selected, we will contact you to make sure you are still happy to have your poem made public. 


We hope that the Time Capsule will give readers and policymakers some insight into how young people in South London are experiencing the pandemic.

What you need to know 

  • You must be aged between 11-16 years old when entering the challenge.

  • You must live, study, or attend a young people’s centre or Library in Lambeth or Southwark. 

  • You can submit 1 written poem or spoken word performance (audio or video)

  • If you are under-16 you must obtain and submit consent/permission from your parent or guardian.

  • You will be judged on originality and creativity.

  • By entering the competition, you consent to Utopia Now (King’s College London) using your story as anonymised research data.  


How to take part 

  1. Read this information sheet to find out more about the competition. 

  2. Complete the online entry and consent form

  3. ​Give your parent or guardian this information sheet and consent form. They can type their signature if you do not have a printer.

  4. ​We will then send you an e-mail to confirm you have been registered and invite you to securely upload your entry and parent/guardian consent forms on to our system.


More about the research 


This competition is part of the Dystopia Now research project at King’s College London. All the entries, whether they are selected or not, will help us understand life during lockdown, and we will be working with them as research data. Because we are treating your entry not only as an artistic product for the Time Capsule, but also as research data, this means we will need you to give us your consent to use your entry as research data (via the form that you will need to complete when you submit your poem or spoken word performance).

Mental health advice and support 


If you are struggling with your mental health then there are resources and places for independent advice. Find out more

Resources and workshops

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Not sure how to get started with your entry? We have put together an online resource to help you write a poem worthy of coming first place!


Pick one of the writing tasks and explore poems and writing exercises to inspire you.

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