Portsmouth pupil Lucy earns top-three spot in international poetry competition

Lucy Albuery
Lucy Albuery
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A YOUNG city wordsmith has gained national appraise for her poem in the voice of a First World War soldier.

Portsmouth Grammar School (PGS) pupil Lucy Albuery was whisked off to the capital to an awards ceremony, where she was surrounded by armed forces heroes.

It came after the 14-year-old scored a coveted top-three spot in a Never Such Innocence (NSI) First World War centenary poetry competition, beating more than 6,000 applicants in the process.

The contest drew talent not only from the UK, but also collected entries from dozens of other nations – including Greece, Malaysia, New Zealand, France, Canada, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Rwanda and the USA.

And after careful NSI judging, Lucy, who is in Year 9, was awarded for her talents at the Guards Chapel at the Wellington Barracks, in London, on Thursday afternoon.

Reflecting on the experience, she said: ‘It was a really fun day and it was brilliant to have the chance to meet so many special people.

‘I remember getting the letter to say how well I’d done in the competition – I hadn’t entered thinking I’d even come close to winning.

‘But to be recognised from so many entries was just a brilliant feeling.’

Entitled Stones, Lucy’s poem was centric on remembrance, using the voice of a long-dead First World War soldier to question what it means in a modern society.

Lucy said: ‘I was inspired to write it after a school trip to Belgium – we saw so many cemeteries.

‘Countless people died in the First World War and it’s so important we remember them – I wanted to do this in an unusual way, with the poem sounding as if it was coming straight from a soldier’s voice.’

As she now prepares to sport her award – a special badge – on her school blazer, Lucy’s family and teachers have rallied behind her efforts.

Head of history and politics, Simon Lemieux, said PGS is ‘extremely proud’.

Lucy’s dad, Gary, dubbed her achievement ‘amazing’.

Lucy’s poem, Stones

You’ll say you’ll remember,

And I’ll trust you that you’ll try,

As you stand in Cathedrals,

Wearing pathetic, paper flowers.

You’ll remember a few numbers,

Maybe a few names

Or just those graves you once saw on a school trip.

But for all you do to not let us fade away You can’t bring yourself to apprehend, that We’re

already gone.

Never another noise will shake us,

Yet through the silence, blares

Rows and rows of what we became:

White rectangles, tattooed

With some numbers and a name.

A name that you claim to enshrine,

And numbers you pretend to have meaning to you.

But they’re not what matters.

Because all that did has withered,

Into the cold soil we sleep.

You don’t know who I was,

So how do you insist you remember

What you never knew?

I am love

I am fear

I am all that I’ve lost

And all the scars that defined me,

All I gave

and all I took.

I am hope

I am loss

All the tears that escaped.

I am what I showed the world

And all I hid from it, too.

All I am you will never know

By a name and some dates.

You don’t remember me.

You remember a stone.