Thursday, 5 April 2012


To celebrate the publication of Dear Dylan I thought it would be nice to have a poetry competition for young writers here at The Faded Bookmark. The competition was open to writers aged from 10 – 17 and the theme had to be one from the book – either family, friendships or dreams.

I was absolutely blown away by the quality of the writing and it gives me great pleasure to showcase the winners, Naomi Jones and Ben O’Shea below.

‘Night Dreaming’ by Naomi Jones (age 13)

The whispering trees with waving arms, reach out to me eagerly,
Stumbling in the darkness, losing my way, wandering feebly,
Walking slowly with silent paces, the shadows around me wear scary faces,
At last I see a clearing, away from the dark,
I pick up speed to get there fast,
Apart from the stars like fairy lights, that twinkle down at me,
There is something else that I can see,
The moon my guardian, a cat’s eye,
Protective, beautiful, in the night’s sky,
A shining pearl, suspended in mid air,
Holding court in lieu of the sun’s bright glare,
I had forgotten how cold it is, I shiver when a gust of wind hits my face,
The sharp slap of reality sends me on my way.

I loved this poem and the images it conjures up in the reader’s mind – it is scary and magical at the same time. It is beautifully written too – I love the idea of the shadows wearing scary faces and the moon as a pearl suspended in the sky. This poem also had a key winning quality – it stayed in my mind long after I had finished reading it. Here’s what my editor at Egmont, Ali Dougal, had to say about it: ‘Sophisticated and beautifully evocative. I could practically feel the night air!’

'Secondary Start' by Ben O'Shea (age 11)

We're all leaving, parting ways for the first time,
Tears in our faces, but it's all a wall we must climb.
As we go for our first step, we remember our first day,
knowing each other’s name, hobbies and birthday.
Oh, those were the days.

 Hugs will come first then the tears.
Cascading along with all former years.
Friends going away, for the summer or life,
we’ll all see each other in another life.
Some might be bosses, a husband or a wife.

You’re near the top but still can't see,
tears still blinding and no hope of glee.
Forget your arguments and become one,
because all our years together are done

I could really relate to this poem. Reading it took me back to the day I left school and brought back so many memories. I felt that Ben really captured the bitter sweet elements of school life – the friendships, the arguments and the sorrow that comes when you finally part ways after so many years together. Although it’s a sad poem in many ways, I love the positive note that it ends on – that it’s time to forget arguments and become one because all their years together are done. The winning quality for me was in the detail and how Ben has managed to write a poem that every reader can relate to. Here’s what Ali at Egmont had to say: ‘Warm, moving and nostalgic. We can all recognise ourselves in this poem.’

Massive congratulations to both winners – your prizes are on their way!

Coming soon to The Faded Bookmark – details of an exciting competition for aspiring young novelists…


  1. Naomi's poem was very beautiful and I could almost feel the woods and the strangeness of dreams. She should be very proud of this poem in its finely honed words. Will stay with me a long time.
    Secondary start is a great poem that brings back to all readers the sadness of parting and of change. Amongst the words I feel there is an understanding that, while we never forget, change is inevitable and we need to accept it.
    Superb work on both poems

  2. These are both very affecting poems. It is difficult to believe how young Naomi and Ben are as they each have such elegant styles. Naomi's use of imagery was perfect and Ben's poem evoked a lot of memories for me. Really well done to them both and I look forward to reading more of their work in the future.

  3. Naomi poem is visual. The imagery is so powerful I could almost feel the whispering branches and the cold breeze in the dark.The feeling of unease is beautifully contrasted by
    feeling of protection and guardianship of the moon. Darkness and light,the strange and the familiar.
    I can hardly believe this was written by one so young.

    Ben's poem actually made me cry. The sense of the loss of friendships, the sharing of hard learned experiences and the breaking of bonds. It is an acknowledgement of the camaraderie and a farewell to childhood. All encapsulated in wonderful verse. He's 11, WOW!