Armistice Day event celebrates Young War Poet winners

An emotive poem written by 13-year-old Aamna Rafaqat from Bradford Girls’ Grammar School has won the district-wide Young War Poet competition and will be performed live at Kirkgate Shopping on 11 November.

Launched by Kirkgate Shopping and Reading Matters, over 100 students from the region’s schools, drama, speech or writing groups entered the competition, writing a poem on the topic of war for Remembrance Day. From WW1 to futuristic conflicts, Bradford’s young people showed “talent beyond their years” according to judge Anthony Anaxagorou.

Closely following in second and third place are year six student from Wellington Primary School, Katie Hammond (10), and Finlay Cooper Butters (7) from Horton Park Academy.

The Armistice Day event, starting at 10.45am, is encouraging people to come together at the centre for a two minute silence with The Royal British Legion at 11am. This will be followed by exclusive performances from award-winning spoken word artist, Anthony Anaxagorou and the three competition finalists who will also receive their prizes on stage.

Anthony, who devises programmes to help engage students who are underachieving due to low literacy rates, said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed working on this campaign, the children have clearly been inspired to express themselves through poetry as the level of entries was outstanding. It was so hard picking only three winners, especially seeing how young some of them were.

“Aamna’s poem was incredibly well organised in both its form and economy, a neat and emotive poem which captured the trepidation of soldiers. Katie’s was another excellent entry and I really enjoyed the form her poem took with how it subtly hints at despair without saying too much. Finally, I loved Finlay’s use of metaphor and the quiet lament found in lines, another poignant piece. A huge well done to all entrants, it’s very exciting to see the writing talent coming from the next generation of poets in Bradford!”

‘Bradford’s Young War Poet’ is an annual initiative that aims to support the region’s literacy development by giving youngsters the opportunity to immerse themselves in the history of the country and develop their reading and writing skills.  This year prizes include an iPad, tickets to see War Horse and Kirkgate Shopping vouchers. The centre has also announced Anthony will run an exclusive poetry workshop at the winning school, drama, speech or writing group.

Catherine Riley, centre manager at Kirkgate Shopping, said: “We’re really looking forward to Armistice Day here at the centre. We have a long-standing relationship with The Royal British Legion so we’re thrilled to share the day with the wonderful fundraising team. We believe it’s important that the district’s young people can truly get involved in Remembrance Day weekend so having the ‘Bradford’s Young War Poet’ event adds a new and engaging element for them.”

On Saturday 11 November, an exhibition from the Bradford WW1 Group which tells the story of the city in the Great War, will be hosted at Kirkgate Shopping.

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