HAMPSHIRE Cultural Trust (HCT) has launched its search to find the top young poets in the county.

The annual Hampshire Young Poets Competition is held in partnership with the Winchester Poetry Festival.

This year’s theme is “Our world, our planet”, and young people from across Hampshire are asked to write a poem of no more than 14 lines on this theme. This can be anything from discussing a favourite place in the world to thoughts on climate change.

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Entries are open to young people who live or study in Hampshire in three categories: aged 4 to 7, 8 to 11 and 12 to 16 years.

The competition is free to enter and there will be National Book Token prizes for the winners, supported by Paris Smith, matched with P&G Wells book tokens for the schools of the winning entrants to spend on poetry books. The closing date for entries is midnight on Wednesday, July 31, and the poems will be judged by the new Hampshire Poet 2024.

Hampshire Chronicle: The winning poets from the 2023 competition with Hampshire Poet Nazneen Ahmed PathakThe winning poets from the 2023 competition with Hampshire Poet Nazneen Ahmed Pathak (Image: Hampshire Cultural Trust)

Huw Miles at Paris Smith said: “We love inspiring young people to develop their talents, especially those living in our special home of Hampshire.  The written and spoken word is at the core of who we are and what we do, and we hope this competition encourages lifetimes of creativity and expression”.

As well as online and postal entries, young poets can submit their entries via the P&G Wells bookshop on College Street in Winchester where they are hosting a poetry desk for young visitors to submit their poems.

The P&G Wells team said: “If you need a bit of extra inspiration, head to P&G Wells bookshop on College Street to discover the poetry desk. Pull up a chair, dig out a pencil and rummage through the desk drawers to reveal prompts and ideas to help spark ideas for young poets.

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“Once you're happy with your poem, you can pop it into our Poetry Postbox where it will be collected and entered into the competition.”

The winners in each age category will be contacted by email or post and officially announced at an awards ceremony at Winchester Poetry Day 2024 to be held at The Arc, Winchester, on Saturday, October 5.

Details of how to enter and submission guidelines can be found on the Hampshire Cultural Trust website.