Switch: Youth Poetics

Switch: Youth Poetics is an online poetry project for young writers developed by Cape Farewell, in partnership with The Poetry Society.

First Year

In 2012, Cape Farewell launched Switch: Youth Poetics for writers aged between 11 and 18, with The Poetry Society, leading spoken word organisation Apples and Snakes, and Rich Mix, in East London. We invited young writers to create poetry in response to a series of Challenges, focused on climate change and created by the poet, Karen McCarthy Woolf.

Young writers from around the world took part, working with Karen and performance poets Adam Kammerling and Joelle Taylor (of SLAMbassadors UK). Karen selected her favourite poems from those sent in, to be celebrated at a special performance event at Rich Mix. The commended young poets work was also read by novelist, Ian McEwan, who gave an inspirational endorsement of their work.

"The poets rose magnificently to a very, very difficult challenge…driving towards a consideration of the specific, the detail, the hard-edged thinginess of the world under threat"
Ian McEwan

Second Year

The second year of Switch featured poet Helen Mort (nominated for the prestigious T.S. Eliot Award) and was designed for young writers up to 25 years-old. It took place online and in secondary schools based in London and Sheffield, from December 2013 to March 2014.

The programme created four challenges for which we received 345 poems from young writers all over the country. Selected from these poems, written in response to the themes of disappearance, crossing boundaries and destruction as creation, the four winning poems were set to their own unique score by Hollywood composer David Julyan, who has produced the scores for box-office hits such as Memento, The Cabin in the Woods, Insomnia and Eden Lake.

A series of workshop led by SWITCH poet in residence Helen Mort in schools across Sheffield and London, supported by fantastic teaching resource - a total of 960 young people recieved a live workshop with Helen and were inspired to write their own climate poetry, responding to themes of disappearence, boundaries and transformation.

Sabrina Mahfouz, Cape Farewell’s brilliant Poet-in-Residence, announced the four winners and introduced their exciting new pieces during the Poetry International Festival at Southbank Centre. Meet the winning poets and see their poems and soundscapes.