More than just words

Nusrat Ghani
ISAAC DELANEY: Holding the key to poetic success

Poetry for Good is the first national poetry competition to celebrate the UK’s many key workers and the important work they do, a lot of it often going unseen.

The competition was established earlier this year as a direct result of the coronavirus crisis, with the aim of encouraging people of all ages to put pen to paper so they could express their feelings about the role front-line workers have played during the pandemic.

One local budding poet and school pupil – Isaac Delaney, 11 – decided to enter the competition with his poem entitled ‘The Small Girl’. But little did Isaac, a student at Bennett Memorial Diocesan School in Tunbridge Wells, know that his piece of work would have a chance of winning.

“I entered the Poetry for Good competition because I enjoy writing poems and I wanted to share them,” he said to the Times.

“I was told about the competition by a friend, and I liked the fact that it celebrated key workers.”

A spokesperson for Poetry for Good said the competition’s entries are ‘a testament to the lives and work of the UK’s key workers’.

Along with the scores of schoolchildren participating, many were also written by key workers themselves, or inspired by family members, friends or neighbours who are key workers.

“Whether it is teachers or nurses, cleaners or shopkeepers, carers or couriers – millions of people, often on low pay, keep our nation going,” added the Poetry for Good spokesperson.

The competition drew poems from across the UK and was organised by Clean for Good, an ethical workspace cleaning company for London, dedicated to delivering fair pay and dignified work for cleaners.

Categories in the Poetry for Good competition included: Growing Word aged 11-15, Written Word 16+, and a Special Prize category, which Isaac won.

Isaac said he chose to write his particular poem as he felt that cleaners are ‘undervalued’.

“I wanted to write something on cleaners as being part of key workers as I feel they are undervalued and deserve more credit for the work they do.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic their role has been especially important in helping to prevent the spread of the virus.  When I found out I was one of the winners I was surprised but very happy.

 “I have never entered a poetry competition before.”



The Small Girl
By Isaac Delaney
Winner, Special Prize for a Poem about Cleaning

The soft tread of the foot
the sighing breath
as an old cleaner goes to work
under the jurisdiction of flickering lights
the dust seems to laugh in his face
but he perseveres
until all is done
he looks around
hoping for a kind word, a congratulatory smile
but none is forthcoming  
he turns to go
his work here is done
a child stops in front of him
“Thank you Mr, for making everything clean and shiny!”
she re-joins the throng of children heading to class
he stares after her
a smile dawning on his face
she noticed
she didn’t just walk past
he turns to go
a spring in his step.

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