Thursday 6 December 2012

The Wicked Young Writers’ Award Winners

The Wicked Young Writers’ Award today announced its winners for 2012 at a prestigious ceremony at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, home of the award-winning musical Wicked. The ceremony was hosted by Louise Dearman, who stars as Elphaba, and prizes were presented by Michael Morpurgo, best-selling author of War Horse and Chair Judge of the Award. The Award’s judges, Michael McCabe, Executive Producer of Wicked, and Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, also attended the ceremony. HRH The Duchess of Cornwall is Patron of the Award.

During the ceremony, performance poet Dean Atta led an interactive literacy workshop titled “My Wicked Poem”; prompted by the show’s theme of friendship, the audience of 100 shortlisted finalists and their guests created a brand new piece of creative writing in just 20mins.

In addition to performing musical numbers from the hit show, Wicked cast members also performed readings of the winning entries, revealed as: Catherine Solway, age 7 from Dorset, Darcey Fleming, age 10 from Southport, Jack McEwan, age 10 from Oxford, Aiden McConnell, age 13 from London, Sophie Max, age 14 from London, Scott Wilson, age 16 from Belfast and Jon Richardson, age 18 from Nottingham. The winning entries ranged from a poem about the environment inspired by bird-watching in Suffolk, a story about worms, moving stories about amnesia and loss, and an original retelling of the Peter Pan story.

The long-running West End show launched the Award in 2010 to recognise excellence in writing, encourage creativity and help develop writing talent in young people between 5 and 25 years of age from across all backgrounds and areas of the UK.

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust commented on the winning entries, “All the winners this year inspired and excited us with their creative skills and their generous, moving and sophisticated views of the world. As they continue to develop their writing skills they will be a force for literature and literacy, because great writers not only create stories, they also create readers.

Michael Morpurgo said of this year’s Award. “Great writing touches our hearts, awakens our intellect and leaves us thinking and dreaming. These young people have written extraordinary pieces that do all that. Here are the writers of the future.

Wicked’s Executive Producer Michael McCabe said: “As a show, Wicked strives to draw upon the thrill of live performance to inspire discussion around its story and themes. It hugely rewarding to see so many young people across the country engage with these values through the Wicked Young Writers’ Award.

Judges chose seven winners from almost 5000 entries from individuals and schools across the country, revealing a wide range of different voices and themes, with the spirit of the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee a clear inspiration for stories and poems in the younger age categories, along with stories about school and magical adventures. In the older age-categories the writing amongst teenagers generally skewed towards darker themes of fear, death and war, showing teenagers and young people testing the boundaries in terms of more self-conscious and psychological themes and confronting the reality of what they see around them. The shortlisted entrants in the 11-14 and 15-17 categories explored more complicated subjects, with genuine and deeply felt pieces on themes of disability, difference and morality. Amongst the entries there were powerful stories about mistaken identity, the immorality of the digital age, the consequences of murder, and amnesia.

The shortlisted finalist entries from the 5-17 year old age-categories have been published in an anthology celebrating the 2012 Wicked Young Writers’ Award. The shortlisted entries from the 18-25 year old age category have been published in an e-anthology downloadable from the Wicked Young Writers’ Award website.

The Wicked Young Writers’ Award has also been working with the National Literacy Trust on a programme of joint events at literary festivals and conferences to highlight both reading and writing skills amongst young people.

Picture credit: Dan Wooler

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