Year 11 pupil Liv has had her poem selected out of 15,000 worldwide entries as one of the top 85 commended poems by the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2020.
Liv’s poem title ‘Altneuland’ will be published on The Poetry Society’s website and featured on our YouTube and Vimeo channels later in the year, and will appear in an online anthology in the spring. Judges described it as “an amazing and impressive achievement” and Liv will be commended in a Zoom award presentation today.
Head of English at Highgate Odette Orlans said “We are so proud of Liv: she has such a thoughtful and original voice, and she is so modest with it. We think we will be teaching her work to future pupils!”
‘Altneuland’ is about Israel and takes the reader on a sensory tour of a war torn middle eastern landscape strewn with emotional and physical wreckage and makes us grieve for a beauty ruined by conflict.
Method and Inspiration
Liv says “I wanted to capture the mood and essence of this both beautiful and troubled, idiosyncratic country.
I was drawn to the natural and urban landscapes and wanted to focus on the tangle between history and the present. It was really important to me not to address a particular political ideology, but to evoke complex and conflicted feelings through the description of the surroundings.
The title is taken from Theodor Herzl’s novel, but also mirrors today – an old-new land with a plurality of cultures and faiths, but not one that is necessarily evolving positively, as the ending suggests. There is an urgent need for change and hope.”
Altneuland, by Liv Goldreich, Year 11
Beyond the screen of sticky-blue plumbago, the street
cats mewl as they lick their gashes. Siesta-eyed
widows on balconies order children to silence,
leave their washing to parch in the khamsin.
You walk the pavements as shadows lengthen,
taxi drivers glass-eyed in blistered cars, teen
soldiers laughing and smoking in clusters by the side
of the road, back from hitchhiking on motorways.
They did not notice Herzl’s silhouette sitting on the water tower
flicker, gulls perched in the hollow of a folded arm, or
crane their necks to see the caterpillar track chains and old
tank bodies embroidered into brindle vineyard hills.
And eucalyptus groves search for water in sands of empty playgrounds.
The traffic island’s arid grass has begun to crumble. A greasy
falafel stand blares Mizrahi music, awning tongue-folded. Grape juice dribbling
down a toddler’s chin and splashing, the wheel of a pram spins
mauve into the tarmac’s veins. You strip jacaranda leaves,
fistfuls of lantana flowers, sorbet-hued, for confetti, and
watch the absence of a breeze, sparrows hovering and hopping
across a congregation of plastic chairs, hairline-fractured.
A muezzin calls evening prayer in the cadence of church bells and the
redolent rain comes, slithering along the dust, the banks, the rocks,
slavers into clogged gutters, until the Sea of Galilee’s stomach swells
and Herzl too begins to rust.
The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award is for poets aged 11-17. Since it began 22 years ago the Award has kick-started the career of some of today’s most exciting new voices. It is the largest competition of its kind and is free to enter. The top poets receive a range of book prizes, membership to The Poetry Society and continuing support from The Poetry Society.
Award Winning Poetry
You might recognise Liv, who also won first prize in the National Words of Unity poetry competition last year for another beautifully crafted poem of hers called ‘Motley Crew’.