North Yorkshire Poet Wins International Poetry Challenge About The Human Body
Anna Bailey, a 19-year-old poet from North Yorkshire, has been named the winner of an exciting poetry challenge for young people, inspired by the pioneering work of the Human Cell Atlas research initiative.
Her poem Centriole "wowed the judges" who said Anna’s evocative and experimental exploration of the human cell made it stand out from the crowd.
Glass tank in a biology
classroom; I count the centipedes.
See? Hundreds of subtle, creeping things,
life’s sediment, seldom stirred. Quantification is
human nature; three celery-green eyes encircle the
wrist of a fairytale witch. A trio of centaurs, lamenting
in triolet form. A census. I count centipedes in the biology
classroom; time scuttles past on many brown legs, hiding under
rocks and leaves. Would it take centuries to crack open the
earth, like a walnut or an almond? After all, we perform
so many modern miracles. Spin me a simulation of
gravity. Step into the blank white centre and
bring me emptiness, that stills the
compass needle. Let me hear
its vegetable snap.
Six poets were recognised by the Young Poets Network Competition titled The Language of Cells – Poetic Science?’. The competition was created by The Poetry Society’s Young Poets Network and Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts, as part of a project called One Cell at a Time.
One Cell at a Time explores the areas where art and science meet and is inspired by the work of the Human Cell Atlas – an international research initiative, which is creating a map of all the cell types in the human body.
The poetry competition invited writers, poets and scientists aged 25 and younger to create new poems using language from the ground-breaking research into the human body as inspiration.
The competition received nearly 400 entries from 23 countries worldwide, including India, China, Nigeria and New Zealand. There were also entries from Bangladesh and Kazakhstan, a first for Young Poets Network.
All six of the winning poems can be read and heard on The Poetry Society website. Here's Anna introducing then reading Centriole:
The competition was judged by a panel led by poet and critic, Theresa Muñoz, One Cell at a Time project curator Dr. Suzy O’Hara and Newcastle University scientist, Professor Muzlifah Haniffa. They named three prize winners:
1st place, Centriole, Anna Bailey, 19, North Yorkshire, England
2nd place, Epithelium, Kitty Joyce, 17, Oxford, England
3rd place, Apoptosis, Matilda Houston-Brown, 19, Stoke-on-Trent, England
The judges also made special mentions to three poets:
The distance between us, Lauren Mappledoram, 25, London, England
Membrane, Alannah Young, 21, Paris, France
Cytoplasm, Nadia Lines, 19, Hertfordshire, England
Professor Muzlifah Haniffa, Professor of Dermatology and Immunology at Newcastle University and Wellcome Senior Research Fellow in Clinical Science, who was one of the judges, said:
“The Human Cell Atlas has been made possible by scientists from many different disciplines and with diverse scientific expertise working together. It has been wonderful to see the poems and how these talented young people have explored the language of the Human Cell Atlas science, to produce beautiful, new and inspired creations.”
The winners will
Receive 1-2-1 mentoring and advice from an established poet
Have their poem included in the One Cell at a Time exhibition which will tour the UK in Autumn 2021
Have their poetry published in the One Cell at a Time ‘zine’ published in 2021 and on The Poetry Society’s Young Poets Network
Receive an exclusive Young Poets Network notebook, poetry books, posters, and up to £50 book tokens
Receive ongoing support and development opportunities from The Poetry Society