Switch Youth Poetics

An online poetry project for young writers developed by Cape Farewell, in partnership with The Poetry Society.

Switch 2012

In 2012, Cape Farewell launched Switch: Youth Poetics for writers aged between 11 and 18, with The Poetry Society, leading spoken word organisation Apples and Snakes, and Rich Mix, in East London. We invited young writers to create poetry in response to a series of Challenges, focused on climate change and created by the poet, Karen McCarthy Woolf.

Young writers from around the world took part, working with Karen and performance poets Adam Kammerling and Joelle Taylor (of SLAMbassadors UK). Karen selected her favourite poems from those sent in, to be celebrated at a special performance event at Rich Mix. The commended young poets work was also read by novelist, Ian McEwan, who gave an inspirational endorsement of their work.

“The poets rose magnificently to a very, very difficult challenge…driving towards a consideration of the specific, the detail, the hard-edged thinginess of the world under threat”

Ian McEwan

Switch 2014

The second year of Switch featured poet Helen Mort (nominated for the prestigious T.S. Eliot Award) and was designed for young writers up to 25 years-old. It took place online and in secondary schools based in London and Sheffield, from December 2013 to March 2014.

Helen led a series of workshop in schools across Sheffield and London, supported by fantastic teaching resource – a total of 960 young people received a live workshop with Helen and were inspired to write their own climate poetry, responding to themes of disappearance, boundaries and transformation.

The programme created four challenges for which we received 345 poems from young writers all over the country, written in response to the themes of disappearance, crossing boundaries and destruction as creation. Sabrina Mahfouz, Cape Farewell’s brilliant Poet-in-Residence, announced the four winners and introduced their exciting new pieces during the Poetry International Festival at Southbank Centre.

Download the teaching resource PDF 670Kb
About Switch 2014
About Switch 2012

Switch 2014 Poems

Watch four unique poetry soundscapes that immerse you in the beauty and vulnerability of our planet, by the 2014 Switch Challenge winners. Selected from over 350 entries by young writers all over the country, these poems were set to their own unique score by Hollywood composer David Julyan, producer of the scores for box-office hits such as Memento, The Cabin in the Woods, Insomnia and Eden Lake.

Tigerless by Rachel Lewis

Music by David Julyan. Images: Experimental go-pro video by Marieke Helmus (shot at Ameland, Holland), 2014.

How We Left by Denisa Vítová

Music by David Julyan.

Emberman by Nat Norland

Music by David Julyan. Images @ Simon Barraclough 2014.

Lines of Memory by Theo Lewis

Music by David Julyan.

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