Young poet

9th June 2000 at 01:00
Last year

Faces familiar and those now forgotten

Capturing a moment


Laughter and tears

We were all moving on

All searching for what we wanted to be


Names now vague where the edges are blurred

Smiles, poses, embarrassed shrugs

All for the camera


Friendships now put to the test

Such moments shared

I ponder on the jokes, familiar, yet half-forgotten,


* Click

A still frame of a lifetime

I keep walking

We blank each other in the street

Claire Twine, 18, Bishop Luffa school, Chichester, West Sussex Michael Laskey, Friday magazine's guest poetry critic, writes: Photos make wonderful prompts for poems and Claire's title snaps us to attention.

Driven forward by the three-line stanzas and the monosyllabic clicks, she remembers the intensity of school life, those adolescent identity crises. We get a sense from that economical "laughter and tears" and her wry observation of her contemporaries' "smiles, poses, embarrassed shrugs" that she's already started to distance herself. But it's not that easy. At this point "I" enters the poem. It's her friendships too that will be put to te test. Will they survive? Already the jokes are "half-forgotten" and the implications of "drifting" are inescapable.

She faces up to the loss without sentimentality, not undervaluing these relationships - "such moments shared" - but knowing they are only moments, "a still frame in a lifetime". There's an honesty here that I trust, a bleak power in the final two lines that the poem's earned. If I were her friend, I'd make sure I stayed in touch.

Claire Twine receives Emergency Kit, edited by Jo Shapcott and Matthew Sweeney (Faber). Her poem was submitted by Joan Secombe and Barry Smith. Michael Laskey founded the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in 1989 and was its director for 10 years. His most recent collection, The Tightrope Wedding (SmithDoorstop), was shortlisted for the T S Eliot prize. Please send poems, no longer than 20 lines, to TES Friday, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX, and include the poet's name and address, the name of the submitting teacher and the school address. Or e-mail: TES Book of Young Poets (pound;9.99), a selection of poems from this column, can be ordered by phoning 01454 617370. A set of posters is available for pound;3.99.

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