The theme this year was – the future we want. The Orwell Foundation received a record number (over 1200!) of entries this year, with young writers from across the UK creatively responding to the theme through essays, poetry, prose, and reportage on topics from climate change to living in a more equitable world. Every entry was read by at least two assessors, and the final winners were chosen by the 2020 judges Kerry Hudson and Kayo Chingonyi. Congratulations to all who were placed!
On Molly’s work, judge Kayo Chingonyi said: This poem displayed an exceptionally well-managed sense of tone. You can really imagine the person speaking and the world to which they belong. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into the use of poetic form which is evidenced in the artful line breaks as well as the way the poem takes George Szirtes’s brilliant advice on poetic first lines and last lines (‘step on heavily, step off lightly’).
On Naomi’s work, judge Kerry Hudson said: This piece contained some of the most unique and stand out prose of the entire competition. I feel like there’s a longer piece (perhaps a novel?) in the making.’
Molly said: ‘I’m incredibly honoured to have been awarded runner up in the senior category as it’s helped me prove to myself that I am a good writer and have the potential to follow my desired career path – especially when considering this is the first competition I’ve entered, and it is a national one with a record number of entries! I am very humbled by this achievement.’
Naomi said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted – this is such a wonderful encouragement for me to not be afraid to fight for what I’m passionate about through my writing.’
The Orwell Youth Prize is an annual programme for 12-18-year olds culminating in a writing prize. Rooted in Orwell’s values of integrity and fairness, the prize and the activities around it introduce young people to the power of language and provoke them to think critically and creatively about the world in which they are living.
With a focus on social justice, the themes of the Youth Prize ask young people to respond to big ideas, past themes have included: ‘Truth vs. Lies’, ‘Identity’ and ‘A Fair Society?’. We believe increasing young people’s confidence in writing, critical thinking, and interest in social justice helps to equip them for their next step, whether that be higher education, apprenticeships or work.