Scottish pupil's exam stress poem wins worldwide competition

A teenager from a Perthshire has won a top prize in a worldwide poetry competition.

Thursday, 15th October 2020, 7:00 am
Anna Gilmore Heezen, from Perthshire, who has won a top prize in a worldwide poetry competition.
Anna Gilmore Heezen, from Perthshire, who has won a top prize in a worldwide poetry competition.

Anna Gilmore Heezen, a 17-year-old sixth form pupil at Kilgraston School, was the only Scottish winner in the global Foyle Young Poets of the Year award.

She was one of 15 winners from more than 6,000 entries.

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Her poem, Total, was centred around the stress young people face with exams, equating the whole experience to a balance sheet.

"The poem was written the week before results day, it's a poem about exam anxiety," Ms Gilmore Heezen said.

"Every line was given a monetary value to equate to the emotional strain I was experiencing.

"However, you can't put a price-tag on personality; I am so much more than just results. The final line - 'Trying to add up the breeze' - represents the impossible, like catching smoke, it's a poetically expressed concept of being unquantifiable.

"I think the judges all had their own results day memory so this struck a chord."

The competition was judged by Maura Dooley and Keith Jarrett.

Dorothy MacGinty, head teacher at Kilgraston School, said: "Anna has been an inspirational pupil to teach throughout her seven years with us.

"We have witnessed her talent and enthusiasm for the subject of English rapidly develop and could not be more thrilled for her."

The award ceremony - which would usually take place at the Southbank Centre in London - is a virtual event this year due to the Covid-19 outbreak, and is set to be held on Thursday.

At the virtual ceremony Ms Gilmore Heezen will read her poem to the other 14 winners, guests and judges.

She said: "It will still be a very moving experience. Such a shame not to actually be with the other winners and to meet the judges face-to-face but it will be a momentous opportunity nonetheless."

The teenager has been awarded with a writing residential course at the Arvon Centre, The Hurst, during the February 2021 half term.Natasha Ryan of the Poetry Society, said: "This is an amazing and impressive achievement."

*///TOTAL///*All slow summer long £9.99I have been living £6.90in a glass jar of anxiety £16.60and dreading £7.68a day in August £6.57when a devious envelope £12.90with a barbed paper tongue £3.76will slither through the door £2.46to determine my fate £6.83with only a few £5.80letters: grades that might £5.45be as sharp as blades £9.90or as soft as rising dough. £5.67At the end of the day, is this £3.54all that I amount to? £12.80Five letters on a flimsy £6.53ghost of paper? £6.45The narrowest indication £3.87of my past £7.90and my future. £14.90God, these £1.65endless days of waiting £8.76and balancing on these tenterhook £17.76cobweb tightropes just won't do, £4.50they just won't do. £14.90*********************I don't want to be calculated £8.76counted, £6.84or summed up £7.36in cold numbers and letters £3.56that are typed by robotic fingers £4.90that have no grace nor growth, £23.90because I am breathtakingly £16.00three dimensional, and £5.35to total me £2.95would be like £0.90trying to add up the breeze. £??.??????*//Please retain receipt for your records//*