This Year

About Switch

Switch: Youth Poetics has been developed by Cape Farewell, in partnership with The Poetry Society.  Featuring poet Helen Mort (nominated this year for the prestigious T.S. Eliot Award), Switch is for writers up to 25 years-old.  It takes place online and in secondary schools based in London and Sheffield, from December 2013 to March 2014.

The Switch Inspire Site


This website was built to inspire young writers. Cape Farewell invites artists and scientists to think creatively about our future, and the problems posed by climate change.

The organisation leads expeditions to climate ‘hotspots’ around the world – including 8 trips to the High Arctic, 2 to the Scottish Islands, and 1 to the Andean cloud forests, in South America.  It has worked with over 250 artists and scientists (including Ian McEwan, Lemn Sissay, Shlomo, and Yann Martel).

Artists have taken on the global challenge of climate disruption and told the human-scale stories within it; with Cape Farewell, they have created an enormous archive of thought-provoking, challenging artwork.

This year, poet Helen Mort has built upon Karen McCarthy Woolf’s curation of the Switch: Youth Poetics programme last year.  Helen has selected powerful new images, text pieces and video from the Cape Farewell archive to create an inspirational website for young writers.

Poets from around the world are invited to take part in the conversation about their future – so Take the Challenge and start creating new work of your own.

Helen Mort


Helen Mort was born in Sheffield in 1985. Her collection Division Street is published by Chatto & Windus and has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. She has published two pamphlets with tall-lighthouse press, The Shape of Every Box and A Pint for the Ghost, a Poetry Book Society Choice for Spring 2010. Five-times winner of the Foyle Young Poets award, she received an Eric Gregory Award from The Society of Authors in 2007 and won the Manchester Young Writer Prize in 2008.  In 2010, she became the youngest ever poet-in-residence at The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere.  Helen is also the new Derbyshire Poet Laureate.

Helen has re-curated Switch this year; she has created 4 new Challenges and will be leading writing workshops in schools in London and Sheffield.

Her Challenges use your senses (Hear, See, Smell/Taste, and Touch) to create new pathways into the artwork on this website, which includes visual art, sculpture, music, and film.  Most of the art here was drawn from Cape Farewell’s 11 art-science expeditions, to the Arctic, Andes, and Scottish Islands.

Switch is designed to inspire you to think about your own creative response to climate change. So Take the Challenge and start writing!

Your Poems

The Challenges are for poets aged 25 and under, from all over the world. The deadline for all 4 (See, Hear, Taste/Smell, and Touch) is Sunday 23 March – but you can send in your poems any time before that too. Send as many poems as you like to in the body of an email (not an attachment), with your name, age and address.

Helen will select her favourites from the poems sent in, and they will be celebrated by Cape Farewell and the Poetry Society at a very special event.  Four young poets, selected by Helen, will have the special honour of composer David Julyan (Memento, The Prestige, and The Cabin in the Woods) creating an original composition in response to their poem.  The pieces will be performed live at a celebration event, in London, in the summer.

Take the Challenge for the chance to have your own poetry there.



For press or general enquiries at Cape Farewell, please contact us.

Switch: Youth Poetics is supported by the Arts Council England.