Young poets urged to express climate change fears for competition

Young people across Devon are being encouraged to express their climate concerns through poetry. Verses that spread awareness about the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling to save the planet could win the budding poet in your family a prize.

Recycle Devon’s Waste Poetry Competition is open to local residents aged from five to 18 and its launch coincides with National Poetry Day on Thursday, October 3.

Entrants are asked to pen a poem of up to 500 words (20 lines) about waste – this could include recycling, reusing, plastic pollution, composting or even bin collections.

The competition is divided into four age categories:  KS1 (age five to seven); KS2 (age eight to 10); KS3/4 (age 11 to 15 ); and age 16 to 18.

Entries must be submitted before November 30 for entrants to be in with the chance to read their poem out loud on Recycle Devon social media and, thanks to support by Suez, win a top prize of £50 in book vouchers.

Runners-up prizes include a £25 book token and goody bags of Recycle Devon merchandise. All winners and runners up will be invited to the Recycle Devon Thank You Awards in March 2020 where the overall winner of each category will be announced.

Judges include Alex Kittow, Head of Devon Libraries Unlimited, and two poets, Anthony Wilson, author of Making Poetry Happen and Love for Now, and John Clarke, author of Landfill. Both are lecturers in English at Exeter University and judging will take place in the New Year.

Poetry that raises awareness

Alex Kittow said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for budding young poets and writers to use their creativity for good in the movement to raise awareness of the impact of waste and pollution, and to encourage people to reduce their impact on the environment.

“We know that there are thousands of talented young people who use our libraries that would be able to make a great contribution to this competition and we encourage them all to take part, to share their talents and encourage people to do their bit to protect our beautiful county.”

John Clarke said: “Rubbish is both an environmentally essential topic to be writing about, and a wonderful opportunity for the writer to take poetry in places it usually doesn’t go, and to fill poems with the appalling and moving strangeness of all we throw away.”

Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Infrastructure Development and Waste, added: “Climate change affects all of us and part of the challenge is convincing people to change their habits and to reduce, re-use and recycle more the waste we produce.

“We have seen recently how strongly young people care about the environment, while poetry has the ability to convince, inspire and be thought provoking.

“By asking young people to express their concerns through poetry I hope it will raise awareness and help encourage people to change their recycling habits.”

How to enter poetry competition

Poems can be submitted by post to Lucy Mottram, Waste Education Officer, County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter, Devon, EX2 4QD. They should be typed in a normal font (Times New Roman, Arial or Calibri) and include name, address, phone number, email and age or year group of poet.

You can email your entry to or put them into the collection bins at one of the 50 participating Devon libraries.

Terms and conditions can be found here

Fire cuts consultation results to be independently examined and report compiled by an external company

About Author