Year One

Switch: The Results

In 2012, Cape Farewell launched Switch: Youth Poetics for writers aged between 11 and 18, with The Poetry Society, leading spoken word organisation Apples and Snakes, and Rich Mix, in East London. We invited young writers to create poetry in response to a series of Challenges, focused on climate change and created by the poet, Karen McCarthy Woolf.

‘The poets rose magnificently to a very, very difficult challenge…driving towards a consideration of the specific, the detail, the hard-edged thinginess of the world under threat’
Ian McEwan

Young writers from around the world took part, working with Karen and performance poets Adam Kammerling and Joelle Taylor (of SLAMbassadors UK). Karen selected her favourite poems from those sent in, to be celebrated at a special performance event at Rich Mix. The commended young poets work was also read by novelist, Ian McEwan, who gave an inspirational endorsement of their work.

The Weekly Challenges

To kickstart Switch, Cape Farewell teamed up with The Poetry Society‘s Young Poets Network, inspiring young writers from around the globe to start personal journeys into the topic of climate change.

This year, T.S. Eliot-nominated poet Helen Mort has created a new programme, and a new look to the archive. On this site, four new Challenges will invite young writers to send original poems for Helen to consider. She will select her favourites, to be celebrated at a very special event.

To have your own original poetry considered, Take the Challenge and send in your work for Helen to read.

Celebration at Rich Mix

In 2012, a series of Switch workshops, exploring climate change through spoken word, rapping, and storytelling, took place at Rich Mix and the Raine’s Foundation School.

Switch Youth Poets went on to share the stage with Karen, Adam, and Joelle Taylor, at a celebration event in the Main Space at Rich. They performed their work alongside professional poets and the talented members of Apples and Snakes’ inspirational performance poetry group, The Writing Room.


Winner Mary Anne Clarke performing her winning poem ‘The Arctic Tern’s Prayer’. Copyright Gorm Ashurst for Cape Farewell.

Winner Serena Cooke being presented her award by Lord de Mauley and Cape Farewell, David Buckland. Copyright Gorm Ashurst for Cape Farewell.

Runner up Isobel Sheen with Karen McCarthy Wolf. Copyright Gorm Ashurst for Cape Farewell.

Audience at Rich Mix. Copyright Gorm Ashurst for Cape Farewell.

Apples and Snakes Writers Room poet Letitia Lovelace-Henson. Copyright Gorm Ashurst for Cape Farewell.

Winner Jake Reynolds. Copyright Gorm Ashurst for Cape Farewell.

Switch compere and curator Karen McCarthy Wolf. Copyright Gorm Ashurst for Cape Farewell.

Poet Rachel Long ending proceedings with her brilliant and satrical poem ‘I don’t know much about climate change’. Copyright Gorm Ashurst for Cape Farewell.

From L-R – David Buckland Cape Farewell Director, Winner Serena Cooke, Lord de Mauley of Defra, Winner Jake Reynolds and Winner Mary Anne Clarke. Copyright Gorm Ashurst for Cape Farewell.

From L – R Winner Jake Reynolds, Runner Up Sophie Colfer, Winner Mary Anne Clarke, Runner Up Isobel Sheen and Winner Serena Cooke. Copyright Gorm Ashurst for Cape Farewell.


This year, it is fantastic to announce that composer David Julyan (Memento, The Prestige, The Cabin in the Woods) will create new compositions in response to each of the best four poems, to be performed live at a very special event in London, in the summer.

If you’d like to have your own poetry there, make sure to Take the Challenge and submit your work before 23rd March 2014.


The first year of Switch was supported by the Arts Council England and the Department for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs