Young poets showcase their talents at Wicklewood Primary School

Teachers hope to have fostered a lasting admiration for poetry among pupils at a south Norfolk primary school who have been learning the art of writing powerful, witty and often personal verse.

Parents at Wicklewood Primary School, near Wymondham, were invited yesterday to hear a showcase of some of the impressive poetry their children had created over the last few weeks as part of a pilot scheme called the Well Versed Project.

The encouragement of their talents comes as the EDP invites entries for its annual Young Poets of the Year competition, which this year is being judged in the final stage by best-selling author Louis de Bernieres, whose acclaimed novels include Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

Held in partnership with Bayer CropScience (Norwich), the theme of this year's competition is Wildlife, challenging youngsters to write creatively about the natural world.

Nature proved a big draw for young poets at Wicklewood who wrote about animals and food produce; others jotted down their thoughts on relationships and emotions.

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Headteacher Sheila Greenacre said she was 'very proud' of the work her pupils had created.

'Some of it has been very profound, while some has been funny. It has certainly made them think and developed their writing skills a massive amount over the last few weeks,' she said.

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'I think poetry is good for children. It's not something that requires a massive long piece of writing. They can put ideas into it very easily and it's something that works for them and they can use as a vehicle to express themselves more than they would normally.' The children's skills had been nurtured by two visiting poets Tom Warner and Molly Naylor through a series of workshops.

Miss Naylor said: 'The children have changed their whole aspect on poetry and they want to continue writing poetry in their own time which for us is really rewarding.'

The poets were brought to Wicklewood by the Writers' Centre Norwich as part of the Well Versed Project, which is taking place in 14 schools across Norfolk.

The scheme plants writers in schools and helps teachers improve the ways they teach poetry in a bid to increase pupils' interest in the literary art form.

Leila Telford, from the centre said: 'It's about appreciating the magic of words and language and if children understand that it's something they can use not only within school curriculum but for the rest of their lives.'

The EDP and Bayer Young Poets of the Year competition invites entries in two age categories for pupils in the newspaper's circulation area – eight to nine-year-olds and 10 to 11-year-old s.

Poems must be submitted by schools, which are being sent entry forms, and the closing date is July 8. The winners will be notified in early September and later announced in the EDP.

Prizes donated by Bayer include �100 for the winner in each category and �500 for each winning school. Bayer will also donate �500 to Families Need Fathers, chosen by Louis de Bernieres who is patron of the charity.

In addition, BeWILDerwood, the woodland fun and adventure park at Hoveton, near Wroxham, is donating prizes including passes and BeWILDerwood book bundles with an additional prize of an interactive storytelling workshop at the classroom of the winner of each age group.

First stage judges this year will be Simon Proctor (a content editor at Archant Norfolk, which publishes the EDP), Prof Anne Osbourn (of the John Innes Centre and founder of SAW, which aims to break down barriers between science and the arts), Lisa Tekell (Bayer CropScience) and Tom Blofeld, of BeWILDerwood. They will select a shortlist for final judging by Louis de Bernieres.

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