Norfolk’s young poets are being encouraged to put pen to paper to celebrate the theme of friendship, and judge Prof Anne Osbourne knows the secret to a good poem.

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Hoping to discover surprising and different poetry, the 2013 EDP and Briar Chemicals Young Poets of the Year Competition is open to children aged eight to 11.

Encouraging youngsters to cross the threshold into the world of poetry - Prof Osbourne, a first stage judge in the competition, offered some essential tips to help budding poets write prizewinning poems.

The scientist said: “A good poem should to make people sit up and think they know something but haven’t heard it captured that way before.

“I would encourage children to look carefully, notice details and understand what you’re writing about - scientists do that and good poetry is the same.

This year’s theme is friendship, chosen by celebrity judge and TV presenter, Caroline Flack.

Youngsters can enter through their schools, and organisers want as many original poems as possible.

Prof Osbourne said students should read other poems and think about words and lines they like best. She added: “Try and use unusual words, there are no wasted words in poems - each word needs to earn its place.

“Relax, focus and write,” added Prof Osbourne, “let your brain go floppy and go into areas you haven’t gone before.”

Encouraging youngsters not to be scared and write without worrying, she said:

“It doesn’t have to rhyme but think carefully about it - the space on the page is just as important as the words.

“Enjoy writing and try your hardest to capture what it is you want to capture, and share it with other people - Poetry should reveal the everyday world in a different way.

“There are different ways to write about the theme and make it surprising, you don’t need drawing with poems or fancy pictures around the edges - the poem speaks for itself.”

The competition is open to all schoolchildren aged eight to 11 in the EDP circulation area.

There are two age categories - eight to nine-year-olds and 10 to 11-year-olds.

Prizes donated by Briar Chemicals include £100 for the winner in each category and £500 for each winning school.

Briar chemicals will also donate £500 to Quidenham Hospice, a charity chosen by Caroline Flack.

First-stage judges this year will be the EDP’s Simon Proctor, Prof Anne Osbourne from the John Innes Centre and the founder of SAW (Science, Art and Writing) which breaks down traditional barriers between the arts and sciences, and Tim Green, of Briar Chemicals.

They will select a shortlist for final judging by Ms Flack.

The children’s poems must be entered by their schools, and schools in the EDP circulation area are being sent application forms.

The closing date for entries is July 10, 2013 and the two winners and runners-up will be notified in early September through their schools.

Winners will be announced in the EDP in the autumn around National Poetry Day.

Any school that needs more information should contact Lisa Walker at Briar Chemicals on 01603 242311 or lisa.walker@briarchemicals.com

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