Teenager scoops top prize in global poetry competition

Anna Gilmore Heezen, a pupil at Kilgraston School, was the only Scottish winner in the Foyle Young Poets of the Year award.

Teenager scoops top prize in global poetry competition Getty Images

A teenager from a Perthshire has won a top prize in a worldwide poetry competition.

Anna Gilmore Heezen, a 17-year-old sixth form pupil at Kilgraston School, was the only Scottish winner in the global Foyle Young Poets of the Year award.

She was one of 15 winners from more than 6000 entries.

Her poem, Total, was centred around the stress young people face with exams, equating the whole experience to a balance sheet.

“The poem was written the week before results day, it’s a poem about exam anxiety,” the teen said.

“Every line was given a monetary value to equate to the emotional strain I was experiencing.

“However, you can’t put a price-tag on personality; I am so much more than just results. The final line – ‘trying to add up the breeze’ – represents the impossible, like catching smoke, it’s a poetically expressed concept of being unquantifiable.

“I think the judges all had their own results day memory so this struck a chord.”

The competition was judged by Maura Dooley and Keith Jarrett.

Dorothy MacGinty, head teacher at Kilgraston School, said: “Anna has been an inspirational pupil to teach throughout her seven years with us.

“We have witnessed her talent and enthusiasm for the subject of English rapidly develop and could not be more thrilled for her.”

The award ceremony – which would usually take place at the Southbank Centre in London – is a virtual event this year due to the Covid-19 outbreak, and is set to be held on Thursday.

At the virtual ceremony, the teenager will read her poem to the other 14 winners, guests and judges.

She said: “It will still be a very moving experience. Such a shame not to actually be with the other winners and to meet the judges face-to-face but it will be a momentous opportunity nonetheless.”

The teenager has been awarded with a writing residential course at the Arvon Centre, The Hurst, during the February 2021 half term.

Natasha Ryan of the Poetry Society, said: “This is an amazing and impressive achievement.”


All slow summer long £9.99

I have been living £6.90

in a glass jar of anxiety £16.60

and dreading £7.68

a day in August £6.57

when a devious envelope £12.90

with a barbed paper tongue £3.76

will slither through the door £2.46

to determine my fate £6.83

with only a few £5.80

letters: grades that might £5.45

be as sharp as blades £9.90

or as soft as rising dough. £5.67

At the end of the day, is this £3.54

all that I amount to? £12.80

Five letters on a flimsy £6.53

ghost of paper? £6.45

The narrowest indication £3.87

of my past £7.90

and my future. £14.90

God, these £1.65

endless days of waiting £8.76

and balancing on these tenterhook £17.76

cobweb tightropes just won’t do, £4.50

they just won’t do. £14.90


I don’t want to be calculated £8.76

counted, £6.84

or summed up £7.36

in cold numbers and letters £3.56

that are typed by robotic fingers £4.90

that have no grace nor growth, £23.90

because I am breathtakingly £16.00

three dimensional, and £5.35

to total me £2.95

would be like £0.90

trying to add up the breeze. £??.??????

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