Each year The Iris Project runs an annual poetry competition which is open to everyone under the age of eighteen. Its aim is to encourage creative responses to the Classics in schools and amongst young people across the UK and beyond, in line with The Iris Project's mission to promote Classics to a wide audience in an inclusive and engaging way. The myths and stories of the ancient world have the ability to captivate young and old from all backgrounds, and this year we have received entries from a very wide range of schools and people.
Our judges this year were Professor Edith Hall from Royal Holloway Classics Department, the poet Ruth Padel, and Henry Stead, poet and Classics doctoral student. The judges were very impressed by the creative engagements with the story of the Argonauts, and congratulated everyone on their entries.
The winning entry has been chosen as Jiha Min's Draco Colcheum, and the two runners up are Lucy Chisnall's The Cliffs and Sophie Oliver's Setting Sail.
We also this year decided to create a separate category for the primary school entries we received, and are pleased to announce the winner of this category as Marcus Cook-Northcott with his Jason acrostic poem.
You can read all these poems below – we hope you enjoy them and many congratulations again to the winning entries, and to all who took part.
Winning entry under 18s:
Draco Colcheum – by Jiha Min
They say it brings prosperity,
This heap of golden fur,
But after this dull eternity,
I want a job transfer.
I heard it was a glorious duty,
And certainly the fleece is a beauty,
But it’s no fun guarding a dead sheep,
When all I ever do is sleep.
Rumors say that my breath is rotten,
And no one dares come near,
But I worry I have been forgotten,
With no visitors yet this year.
I wish a mortal would finally come,
With gleaming sword in hand.
I would crush him with my scaly thumb,
And mock his stern demands.
But alas, I will just lie in wait,
Accepting my monotonous fate.
This carcass might just come alive,
Before a warrior does arrive.
So I’ll drown my sorrows in this wine,
And rest amid the leafy vines.
Runners up under 18s:
The Cliffs – by Lucy Chisnall
Forward they went the ship’s bough breaking the waves,
Ahead the cliffs with their menacing faces loom,
Ready to crush their next victim,
They had no choice now they must go through,
The men looked as white as ghosts with fear,
They had heard stories about these cliffs,
And that no one had ever escaped with their lives,
As they enter the perilous gap between,
The knife-like edges seem to be closing in,
Their leader, Jason, stands strong at the helm guiding them through,
With bated breath the men wait,
Praying to the almighty gods that they will make it through,
The turquoise water lapped at the ship’s side,
Above in the crystal blue sky a bird soured,
As if sent by the gods,
The bird guided the men through the perilous straights,
They arrived safely on the other side,
A roar as if from a mighty beast erupted from the men,
The sense of triumph and relief could be seen on every man’s face,
Onwards they sailed,
With the wind in their favour,
Filling the sails and sending the ship at as fast speed across the sea,
To a place where new adventures waited.
Setting Sail – by Sophie Oliver
Setting sail in the sunlight, the noble Prince Thessaly.
The anchor, a cracked ball of granite, is carefully raised.
The many oars dip into the sparkling aqua sea.
The beautiful Goddess Hera watching over the Argonauts.
Protecting them from harm.
Jason standing tall on the starboard side.
Rowing in time to the drummer.
The orange sail waves joyfully upon its mast.
The picture of Ram glares down, surveying the scene.
A setting sun throws blood red light onto the ship.
Its bold silhouette cutting like a knife through the shadowy sea.
The Argo shall sail where it pleases.
Gliding like a swan through the oceans.
Colchis is where they’re headed.
To find the Golden Fleece.
Under 12s category winner
Jason Acrostics – by Marcus Cook-Northcott
Jason looking for shipmates
After the Golden Fleece
Son of a rightful king
No chance of getting the fleece
Rocks clashing together
Got through the rocks
Only the stern splintered