Rising Stars: New Young Voices in Poetry

Rising Stars: New Young Voices in Poetry

By Author / Illustrator

Ruth Awolola, Victoria Adukwei Bulley, Abigail Cook, Jay Hulme, Amina Jama, Riya Chowdhury, Elanor Chuah, Joe Manners, Pop Up Projects, Arts Council England



Age range(s)



Otter-Barry Books Ltd




Paperback / softback




An exciting collaboration between Otter-Barry Books and Pop Up Projects, introducing new voices in poetry for 10-14 years old.

Rising Stars, sponsored by Arts Council England's Grant for the Arts programme, is a poetry anthology showcasing the work of five debut poets from diverse backgrounds, all aged 25 and under.

Black and white illustrations are by final year students from Birmingham City University's illustration course.

Joelle Taylor, founder and Artistic Director of SLAMbasadors UK, is acting as a consultant to the project.




Produced in conjunction with SLAMbassadors and Pop-Up, the impressive Otter-Barry publishing company is showcasing young 'rising stars'; in its latest volume of poetry. With stars in the ascendency, it seemed fitting that I turned firstly to Ruth Awolola's 'A Love Letter to the Stars' (p.17). This is a simple and lyrical poem with sweet undertones of its predecessor 'Twinkle, twinkle, little star': Dreams and wishes and hope and light, / Placed perfectly in the sky. / I'll never understand the power of the night, / How it fills me with love or why? Later in the volume, Abigail Cook's affectionate poem 'Brother' (p.47) also offers a powerful star-studded image: One night / we lay on the driveway / and counted every star / in the sky / plucked them and placed them in our pockets / there to light the way for the darkness ahead'... Victoria Adukwei Bulley's clever 'How to Build a Kitchen' (p.34) conjures up a poem that the reader can hear, see and smell using a sprightly question and answer structure: Toast jumping? / a flight into space / and butter melting? / the tide going low /... A simile of chilli falling like red hot rain is accompanied by Riya Chowdhury's illustration of an umbrella being pelted with chillis: simple yet effective! In the current climate of religious discord, Jay Hulme's 'Reflect it back' (p.66) strikes an inclusive and contemplative note. Underlined by Joe Manners' silhouettes of different religious buildings, each verse takes an identical structure with just the building changing: 'temples', 'churches','mosque' and 'synagogues'. The verses then continue thus: Temples welcome you in, / Absorb your silence, / And reflect it back. / The final verse repeats the structure but with 'life' as the heralding word. This is a poem for our times and sorely needed. Children will be drawn to the unusual juxtapositions in Amina Jama's 'City' (p.74). Elanor Chuah's comic-style illustrations do justice to a camel handing me change / as a cashier in Sainsbury's and the synchronised swimmers in / a flooded bathroom. / As well as the freshness of new voices, what characterises all these poets' work is the skill with which they work with complex ideas using apparently simple devices and forms. Listen out for them all in the future! 96 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Alison Kelly, education consultant

Suggested Reading Age 9+


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