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Steven Camden wins CLiPPA 2019 with Everything All at Once

By Charlotte Carus on 5th July 2019

Steven Camden has scooped the Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award (CLiPPA) 2019 award for his pitch-perfect, vibrantly voiced debut poetry collection for teens, Everything All at Once published by Macmillan Children's Books.

'All together.

Same place.

Same walls.

Same space.

Every emotion under the sun

Faith lost.

Victories won.

It doesn't stop.

Until the bell.

Now it's heaven

Now it's hell.

Who knows?

Not me

I just wrote what I can see

So what's it about?

Here's my response

It's about everything

All at once.'

Everything All at Once was reviewed for LoveReading4Kids by expert, Joanne Owen. She said; "These poignant, punch-packing poems explore the varied emotional lives of secondary school pupils facing the giddy transition from being “the biggest to the smallest...in the secondary school jungle” like “gazelles in a field full of lions”. Complex tangles of feelings are laid bare with heart-rending authenticity, from the headiness of he-said-she-said gossip, to the bewildering “who the hell do you sit with?” loneliness that strikes when your best friend’s off school. A chorus of entertaining, emotionally-charged insights and observations sing and dance through these tender, playful pages, with each short verse alive with empathetic, true-to-life experiences."  You can read Joanne's full review and download an extract of Everything All at Once here.

Steven's award adds to the current success and popularity of verse poetry and spoken word, particularly within the YA genre. Elizabeth Acevedo recently won the Carnegie Medal for Poet X, from a shortlist which included poetry novels Rebound by Kwame Alexander and Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. Sarah Crossan, joint winner of the CLiPPA in 2016 for her verse novel One (which also won the Carnegie Medal), has been shortlisted for the UKLA 2019 Award for her verse novel Moonrise.

The CLiPPA was founded in 2003 to support, encourage and celebrate outstanding poetry and is the UK's only annual poetry award. The judging panel for CLiPPA 2019 comprised of poet and author A.F. Harrold, CLiPPA 2018 winner Karl Nova, Susannah Herbert, director of Forward Arts Foundation and National Poetry Day, poet Ruth Awolola, and Charlotte Hacking, Programme Leader for the CLPE

Shortlist in Full:

Everything All at Once, by Steven Camden (Macmillan Children’s Books)

Dark Sky Park, by Philip Gross (illustrated by Jesse Hodgson) (Otter-Barry Books)

Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me, by Eloise Greenfield (illustrated by Ehsan Abdollahi) (Tiny Owl Publishing)

A Kid in My Class, by Rachel Rooney (illustrated by Chris Riddell (Otter-Barry Books)

Rebound, by Kwame Alexander (Andersen Press)


A.F. Harrold, Chair of Judges for CLiPPA 2019 said of Everything All At Once: “Steven’s collection has so many things to recommend it, not only the mastery of our living written/spoken language but also an intense insight into the heart of a secondary school – the nuances and faceslaps of being that age, of tiptoeing or prat-falling through that environment. The heartaches and the anxieties, the laughs, the embarrassments and the low slants of daylight. It’s as much a guidebook to navigating those tricky waters as it is a record of what he’s seen. A copy of this should be given to every kid about to go up to secondary school.”

Louise Johns-Shepherd, Chief Executive at CLPE said:  “Through our research and work with schools at CLPE, we regularly see the transformative power of poetry on children’s engagement with reading and writing. Poetry allows children to see things from the perspective of others, to form opinions and be reflective, to understand how language is used for effect and to show them that they too can have a voice, through writing poetry of their own. CLiPPA champions children’s poetry because we believe it is absolutely fundamental to their literacy development and we want children to have access to the best poetry from the earliest age. Steven Camden’s collection brings us the some of the finest poetry for young people. Eloquent and complex as well as engaging and accessible, it shows the power of poetry to take the reader on an emotional journey towards adulthood.”

Steven, who also goes by the stage name Polarbear, received a trophy and £1000 prize, and will be recorded for the prestigious National Poetry Archive. The award is supported by the Siobhan Dowd Trust and the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society.

To ensure the celebration of poetry continues all year round, the ceremony culminated in the announcement of a national poetry reading and writing challenge for children. #MyNPDPoem marks the 25th Anniversary of National Poetry Day which this year will be celebrated on Thursday 3rd October.

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