POETRY, as a form of expression, is centuries older than the novel, but its popularity has waned. This could be changing. Is it the recognition that poetry, song lyrics and rap are all related that has sparked a new level of interest? Or, in these times of immediate communication, is it that the brevity and expressiveness of poems - being shorter and punchier than the novel - has helped poetry find a renewed popularity? Whatever it is, poetry is back.
In a national competition, Poetry Rivals, one Berkshire schoolgirl has proved that poetry can really open doors. Sarah Ladd, 14, is now one of 50 junior finalists in the slam final, among entrants from as far and wide as Mauritius and the USA. The competition has attracted a field of 5,000 entries in all categories and Sarah's poem, The Page, will be judged in the under 18s category in April.
Poetry Rivals is a competition for poets of all ages, giving writers an opportunity to showcase their talents. Run by Bonacia, the largest publisher of new poetry in the world, the competition provides a platform for different styles of poetry. Tazmin Hunt, marketing manager at Bonacia, said: "The competition is designed to inspire ideas and the incentive to write, with the final reward being the opportunity for the budding young writer to see their work in print. Creative writing allows children to learn more effectively because they are working on something they have created for themselves. This is more likely to engage their interest than looking at other people's work or practising with short, unconnected sentences.
"Most importantly, creative writing encourages imagination, a useful tool in later life when innovation and problem solving skills are required in the workplace. It teaches children to think for themselves, encouraging the next generation of creative thinkers."
The final, which will take place on April 21, in Peterborough, will give the young finalists the chance to battle it out for a top-of-the-range laptop and the chance to see their work published at www.poetryrivals.com