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Contest to foster top young writers
A NEW competition has been launched to find the best young writer in Oxford.
The Oxford City Young Writer of the Year award is aimed at teenagers aged between 14 and 18, and has been launched by Oxford poet Kate Clanchy.
Ms Clanchy is Oxford’s first ‘City Poet’ having been given the role last July.
As part of her duties she works with children across the city, and wanted something to recognise their talent and encourage more of them to get excited about writing.
The award has a top prize of £100, plus eight spaces on a workshop with writer David Constantine, winner of the BBC National Short Story of the Year competition in 2010.
The contest is sponsored by Oxford Spires Academy with backing from Oxford Brookes University.
Ms Clanchy, 47, said: “I work with children across the city quite a lot and I try to get them to enter national competitions.
“But invariably someone from a big posh school wins so you don’t get that virtuous circle of winning and thinking that we can win again.
“I thought we needed a smaller competition where the winner would be from Oxford.”
The competition aims to celebrate all kinds of written work, so would-be writers can enter a group of three poems, short stories, work derived from school exercises or work inspired by other authors.
They can also enter up to three times.
The competition is open to students at secondary schools Cheney, Cherwell, Oxford Academy, Oxford Spires Academy, St Gregory the Great, Matthew Arnold and Wheatley Park.
It will be judged by Ms Clanchy and Mr Constantine.
The two-year city poet role was created jointly by Oxford Brookes and Oxford City Council with a £2,000-a-year salary, and was designed to bring poetry to the city’s communities and inspire people to write their own verse.
Ms Clanchy is also a creative writing fellow at Brookes and a writer in residence at Oxford Spires Academy.
Her first novel, Meeting the English, will be published in April.
She said: “We will be looking for things that sound like a voice, things that sound like they have been written by a bright, young person saying something distinctive.
“I have amazing students I have worked with, so there should be writing of a very high level.
“But even if you are not going to be particularly brilliant, people are entitled to write and enjoy it.”
She is hoping the number of entries will top 100, and that pupils’ success will spark further interest to make it an annual event.
Ms Clanchy said: “I hope it’s a fun thing that will really grow.
“Almost everybody loves to write, it’s getting the incentive to actually finish something, send it off and share it.”
Entries need to be sent to WWriting@oxfordspiresacademy.org or by post to Kate Clanchy, Oxford Spires Academy, Glanville Road, Oxford, OX4 2AU, by February 25.
More information and full rules are available at oxfordspiresacademy.org. The winners will be announced on March 7, the day the workshop is taking place.