Young poet

8th December 2000 at 00:00
Laura Kilbride, aged 12, All Saints RC school, York.


This is York.

An ancient creature.

Tamed and docile now, Yet rabid and war hungry in its youth.

The creature's face is that of an old man; Wizened and cracked is its stony stare.

Knowledge of what is past Throbs like blood through its veins.

Arching its back, curving its tail, York curls itself round in a ring, Head to tail in a solid impassive loop, An unbreakable circle of defence Impenetrable to anyone.

Arrogantly smirking, knowing that no-one Would dare challenge him.

York sleeps, slumped on the River Ouse, Memories of the past drifting back like distant clouds.

Laura obviously wrote this poem before the floods, which showed that York's "unbreakable circle of defence" was perhaps not so reliable. In fact, her poem highlights the arrogance of this belief and, who knows, there may even have been a suggestion of complacency in her image of the city sleeping "slumped on the River Ouse".

It would be interesting to read a poem written following the floods that used the same premise and imagery, to see how Laura might develop it.

This is what excites me about poetry - the insights of a poem can provoke us to think in a differen way about our experience, both personal and social. It is an impressive poem, which manages to convey the city's history in a lively way. I like the animal metaphor that is used to convey York's landscape, particularly the image "Head to tail in a solid impassive loop".

It is a confident opening and an ending with a twist. Again, these distant clouds are perhaps even more significant with hindsight and there is no doubt this image works in two ways - it could be lyrical, it could contain threat. The poem is well crafted and thought out, it uses metaphor consistently and really draws us into its world.

JACKIE WILLS Laura Kilbride receives Strictly Private, edited by Roger McGough (Puffin). Her poem was submitted by Geraldine Cooper. Jackie Wills is poet in residence at Lever Brothers in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey. Please send poems, no longer than 20 lines, to Friday magazine, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX. Include the poet's name, age and address, the name of the submitting teacher and the school address. Or email: The 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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