Young Poets 2018  6-10 Winners

Adjudicator: Yvonne Reddick 

Yvonne Reddick won a Northern Writers’ Award for her poetry in 2016. Her poetry pamphlet Translating Mountains (Seren Books, 2017) won the Mslexia Poetry Pamphlet Prize. Her poems have appeared in magazines including Stand and Shearsman. She is Research Fellow in Modern English and World Literatures at UCLAN, where she researches literature’s engagement with environmental issues. Her book Ted Hughes: Environmentalist and Ecopoet has recently been published by Palgrave Macmillan.  Yvonne’s comments on the entries to the Ted Hughes Young Poets’ Awards were: 'The standard of the young people’s poetry was exceptional. A passion for ecological issues comes through in their poems. We can look forward to hearing much more from these budding poets in the future. Ted Hughes would be delighted that his legacy continues to inspire so many people’.

Winner – Adam Rafael Holmes

I will plant 9 trees


Right, now I am 9, I will plant 9 trees.

If each year I plant my age

Then by the time I am 17,

I will achieve one of man’s life’s aims.

No, not to drive my heirloom Z3,

But to plant 100 trees!

This is more than the promise I made

When the Oak Tree set me free.


Travelling to my garden in Sussex

Massive forests and mountains of trees

Rush past the train windows

And as I now know,

It is the willows who are moving

When our train slows.

They travel to visit friends

In other forests and by the sea.

The first sight of them means fresh air

Relief from our coughs

A space for grasshoppers and bees.


I walk through the gate

Smell the brambles and bark

Fresh air and shade

The relief of a place cool and dark.


I love the way the leaves sway

When the wind pushes through.

The little birds hatch and play,

Fighting off cats

Attacking their habitats.


The rustling, chirping of the birds

The thud now and again in the wheelbarrow below

Of apples crashing down

As the trees say hello.


The oak stands solid

A trunk topped by a green elfin hat.

Birds line up on his branch

And with a wiggle and tickle,

Make his long arms wave.

The tree answers with a whirlpool

Tossing the birds deep inside

Landing on a soft bed of moss

The birds try to hide.

The woodpecker makes a hole

For them to fly out and begin again.

Now, where have my magpies gone?

The tree asks if he has won.

In the Spring shoots appear,

Leaves are forming

So the trees are green

With many twigs and sticks in between.

Later in the Summer,

The trees are full of delight,

Each like a big green balloon

Reaching its ultimate height.

Now, Summer’s end, the balloons can swell no more

Autumn will turn the leaves yellow, orange and red.

The balloon very nearly bursts

But then in Winter,

The trees will stretch and rest their heads.

The air slowly seeps out

With the leaves dropping from the tree.

Spring will bring new life and its green canopy.


I don’t want people to chop down more trees.

There is no need to use wood for homes or heating

Or palm oil for eating.

You can use concrete or painted cement.

Yes, plastic is bad for all life on Earth

But deforestation to use paper instead

Will take away our oxygen, shade and much food

An end to the forest animals’ rebirth.



Comments by Yvonne Reddick: ‘Ted Hughes founded a tree-planting scheme for children, so he’d have been proud that this poet’s ambition isn’t to drive an heirloom Z3, but to plant a hundred trees! The ‘green elfin hat’ and ‘whirlpool’ voice of the oak draw us into an enchanted forest in this wonderful poem’.


Runner Up – Aurora Blue



If I am a river flowing,

not knowing where I am going,

I am zig-zag-z shaped;

my reflection is an upturned snowdrop.

The shape of the land shapes my river

and never stops me shaping the land.


Since I am a child,

a girl of mother, father, of earth.


As I walk alone through an aged oak wood,

my hardening bones become twice alive, more than body;

as the sleeping trees tower above and around me,

I am no longer merely free,

but freer still, freed from my senses.


Since I am a child,

a girl of mother, father, of earth.


I can sit about an oak tree root,

thrown from my comfort,


but it is not mine,

It is Earth’s,

and I am not ruler here.


I wait and wait for a familiar sound that I dread,

and then it comes-

metal of axe on wood of wood-

and when it comes,

all good seems dead-

all blood is bled.


As the rain falls

rain trickles down my shoulder

and I know I’m getting older.

It’s wet,

             And I get it.


Since I am a child,

A girl of mother, father, of earth.