Finalists Announced For The 2019 WICKED Young Writer Awards
The 2019 WICKED YOUNG WRITER AWARDS (www.wickedyoungwriterawards.com), created by the producers of the musical WICKED in partnership with the National Literacy Trust (www.literacytrust.org.uk) are today (Tuesday 21 May 2019) announcing the names of the 120 finalists in the running for the annual creative prizes. Championed by Patron Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall, the judges this year include two poets, Inua Ellams and Hussain Manawar in recognition of the huge growth in poetry buying and writing amongst young people. They are joined by the author and illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon books Cressida Cowell, who returns as Head Judge for the fifth consecutive year, together with longstanding judges Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, Michael McCabe, Executive Producer (UK) of WICKED and Nicky Cox MBE, Editor in Chief of First News (a joint sponsor of the Award prize for the 'FOR GOOD' category). The Awards Ambassador is best-selling author of the Jamie Johnson football books, Dan Freedman, who has visited schools around the country to raise awareness of the WICKED YOUNG WRITER AWARDS.
The winners will be announced on Thursday 20 June 2019 at the Awards ceremony and celebration at London's Apollo Victoria Theatre, home of the long running hit musical WICKED. These finalists and their stories, poems and essays reveal a very high standard of creative writing amongst both the younger and older categories. Now in its ninth year, the Awards encourage young people aged 5-25 years old to use writing as a way of expressing themselves, producing unique and original pieces of prose and poetry. This year saw over 4,500 submissions with a rise in entries from individuals and primary schools in the 8-10 age category and the 11-14 age category.
Cressida Cowell, author and illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon series and Head Judge reflects on the entries:
"I love judging this competition because it is so exciting to know that you are encouraging young people to write for the joy of it. There are no rules in this competition, they can just write about whatever excites and interests them. And that's the way to find future writers."
Amongst this year's finalist entries were stories, poems and non-fiction writing that showed imagination, intensity, bravery and humour often with powerful messages and an understated complexity. The older category stories showed a mature economy of language when discussing difficult subjects such as mental health issues and sexual identity, touching also on the value of unconditional friendships and the unobtainable image expected of young people on social media. The younger category stories took the judges to magical worlds with princesses, unicorns and space missions with fascinating and creative stories from time travelling with fossils, to a poignant refugee's journey, a fable about an angry king, mythical kingdoms, a crafty sea maiden, the Muffin Man and a chilling story inspired by the Princes in the Tower.
Hussain Manawer, Poet and judge comments on the entries:
"I was very impressed by the use of vocabulary, imagination and style of writing in the awards. I also found the range of people from different backgrounds who entered refreshing."
The WICKED YOUNG WRITER AWARDS, created by the producers of WICKED in association with the National Literacy Trust, were set up to encourage and recognise excellence in writing and creativity, and help develop literacy and writing talent in young people between 5 and 25. Since launching in 2010, with the support of Michael Morpurgo OBE and Patron HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, almost 40,000 young people have entered original and thought-provoking pieces of writing that consistently reflect the interests, concerns and deepest thoughts of young people, providing a first-look at the emerging voices of a new generation.
The WICKED YOUNG WRITER AWARDS are separated into six categories, for entrants between the ages of 5-25. They allow young people from across the UK and Ireland to enter a piece of writing on a theme or subject of their choice. Young people are free to submit entries written at home or at school, and teachers are encouraged to enter writing on behalf of their pupils. Exclusive teachers' resources can be found online including tips for inspiring and encouraging writing in the classroom.
The 2019 Awards sees the fourth year of the 'FOR GOOD' Award for Non-Fiction, encouraging 15-25 year olds to write essays or articles that recognise the positive impact that people can have on each other, their communities and the world we live in. This category celebrates the WICKED: FOR GOOD philanthropic programme, which supports the work of multiple charities.
120 finalists from across the UK will see their work published in the WICKED YOUNG WRITER AWARDS Anthology, which will be published in association with Young Writers (www.youngwriters.co.uk). The 120 finalists are also invited to an exclusive ceremony at London's Apollo Victoria Theatre, home to the musical WICKED since 2006, where judges and members of the WICKED cast announce and read aloud the winning entries in each category.
- The overall winners from each category will win £50 book/eBook tokens, and the 5-14 year old winners will receive £100 worth of books for their school library kindly donated by Hachette Children's Group.
- Winners in the 15-17 and WICKED: FOR GOOD categories will also win an exclusive writing experience with one of the Awards' literacy partners.
- 18-25 winners also receive a self-publishing package from Spiderwize, to publish their own work.
- The three schools that submit the most entries will also win a Creative Writing Workshop for their school for up to 30 students delivered by WICKED's education team.
- Winners in all categories receive a VIP family experience at the West End production of WICKED, including tickets, an exclusive backstage tour and a meet-and-greet with members of the cast.
- All finalists' entries get printed in the WICKED YOUNG WRITER AWARDS Anthology.
- The winner of the 'FOR GOOD' Award for Non-Fiction will win work experience at First News newspaper, shadowing the editor Nicky Cox, MBE.
For more information about the awards and for the full list of finalists visit: www.WickedYoungWriterAwards.com