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Young writers praised at Lit & Phil awards; Who will be the top poets and prose writers of the future? DAVID WHETSTONE names some likely contenders.


SOME of the region's best young writers were honoured at an awards ceremony in Newcastle this week.

The third annual Lit & Phil Young Writers' Awards invited entries in three writing categories - poetry, fiction and non-fiction - and in each there were prizes for school year groups 7-9 and 10-11.

Awards co-ordinator Jessica Wortley and a team of mentors worked with pupils at schools around the region who were invited to respond to the theme 'I remember...'.

Jessica said the standard of entries had been high.

Michael Chaplin, who has written books, stage plays and for television and radio, presented the prizes (book tokens and Lit & Phil membership) and recalled that his passion for writing began when he won a competition in The Journal.

I judged the non-fiction category and was taken with the clarity "I'm a big fan of writing competitions," said Michael, who began his career on this newspaper before moving into television of the young people's and then becoming a full-time writer.

writing He recalled becoming a member of the Lit & Phil at the age of 14, having been introduced to the venerable library by his father, Sid Chaplin, who was also a notable North East writer.

He told his young audience: "Writing is its own reward."

But for the winners, of course, there were extra rewards.

Tony Williams, senior lecturer in creative writing at Northumbria University, judged the poetry category and said he had liked the entrants' subtle use of rhyme.

Debbie Taylor, novelist and editor of Mslexia magazine, was impressed by the range of subjects chosen by entrants in the prose category.

While lots of young writers had chosen fantasy subjects, someone had picked Ukip leader Michael Farage as a subject.

I judged the non-fiction category and was taken with the clarity of the young people's writing. The winners in each age group were worthy of publication and you will see proof of that on our website.

One writer scored a commendable double whammy from the judges, who acted independently of each other.

Molly Easton, who attends Whickham School, Gateshead, won both the poetry and the non-fiction categories in the 7-9 age group.

In her poem she imagined adult memories of carefree childhood days. In her non-fiction piece she recalled the day she received a surprise, four-legged birthday present. Fellow Whickham School pupil Liam Harris was the 7-9 winner in the prose category while the 10-12 winner was Emma Clark from Heaton Manor School in Newcastle. Isabella Redmayne, from King Edward IV School, Morpeth, was the poetry winner in the 10-12 category, while Anna Camsell, also from King Edward IV School, was successful in the 10-12 prose category for "a nostalgic (and musical) reflection on the first 15 years of my life".

The winning entries in the competition, funded by the Northern Rock Foundation, can be read on (click on culture)

I judged the non-fiction category and was taken with the clarity of the young people's writing


Michael Chaplin with winners, from left, Liam Harris, Anna Camsell and Molly Easton Tim McGuinness

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 5, 2016
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