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International Poetry Competition Win

International Poetry Competition Win
Philippa Scudds

Many congratulations to Sixth Former Catalina Taylor who has been selected as one of five winners from over 900 entries in an international poetry competition.

‘Never Such Innocence’ was formed to give children and young people across the globe a voice on the subject of conflict, offering opportunities to reflect on history through poetry, art, speech and song.   It began as a commemoration of the First World War, but in 2019 was expanded to include conflict in all forms throughout history, up to the present day.

This year’s poetry competition theme was ‘The Impact of Conflict on Communities’, inviting pupils to respond or reflect on a conflict they felt strongly about.  4,003 entries were received from 44 different countries, including 914 pieces of poetry.   There were categories for 9-11, 11-14, 14-16 and 16-18 years, each with winners and placed entries in poetry, art, speech and song.   Catalina’s poem ‘War Photograph’ was awarded joint first place in the 16-18 age group and is published below.

Catalina wrote of the inspiration behind her poem:

Stuck at home during lockdown, I became increasingly interested in poetry and found this competition’s theme of ‘The Impact of Conflict on Communities’ deeply thought-provoking. Inspired by Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘War Photographer’, my poem focused on the other side of the camera, on a girl directly affected by war. I was thrilled that the judges liked it.

With judges of the poetry section including historian Dr Vivien Newman, Veteran Major Barry Alexander and award winning poet Michaela Morgan it was a very fine achievement to be selected as a winning entry.  Dr Newman commented:

Judging for Never Such Innocence has, as always, been a challenging and humbling experience.  Challenging because so many wonderful poems made it hard to single out five winners.  Humbling because of the young people’s ability to grapple with the complex subject of ‘Conflict’, exploring this in multiple, deeply insightful ways.

The President of Never Such Innocence is Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence KCVO CB ADC(P).  For more information please visit


War Photograph

Soft cheeks and cherub curls,

An image of youth.


He surveys the scene,

Zooms in on her

One eyed teddy bear

Her dust tinged lashes.


Kneels down. She is

Empty, unresponsive.

Suspended in a silence

Heavy with the echoes

Of screams.

She sees him

In black and white.


Still, she stares into the lens,

Mind blank, eyes dark.


A series of cricket clicks

And he pushes off the ground,

Straight legged, hops

Back into his own life.

Lingers, with a pitying stare,

Murmurs of platitudes.


Her fragile hands shake;

Eyes fix on the back of his head

As he walks away,

Unaware that tomorrow

The whole world will glimpse her

Deserted in a sea of rubble,

Immortalised in colour.