My experience with the 2023 Orwell Youth Prize
Hau Tak Ng, Upper Fifth pupil

We are incredibly proud of Hau Tak, Upper Fifth, who recently got through to the final 43 entrants shortlisted for The Orwell Youth Prize! He has written an account about his experience: 

The Orwell Youth Prize is an annual writing contest organised by the Orwell Foundation - named after famed author, essayist and social critic Eric Arthur Blair, who wrote under the far-better-known alias George Orwell (and created such famed works as Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four). Drawing on Orwell’s style of activism through writing, participants are encouraged to write on topical social issues and crises, to expound their thoughts and opinions, and to boldly use their voice in creating literature that will help promote and exchange ideas and foster change and progress. This year, I had the privilege of entering the Prize alongside several friends, and I shall briefly summarise my experience in this article.

I first heard of the prize after Easter break from our knowledgeable Mr Gibbs here at Bede’s, and was invited to join the Orwell Youth Prize writing activity on Thursdays in order to have a designated amount of time every week reserved solely for writing and perfecting my submission. It was here that I met fellow prize entrants Skye Coetser (from Charleston) and Harrison Tradewell (from Deis). Despite having never met me before, both Skye and Harrison were very instrumental in fostering a very welcoming and creative atmosphere during our weekly activity time together, and we were able to explore a wide range of potential ideas for our entries, ranging from mystical and religious concepts like cyclicality and samsaras to concrete socio-political problems such as wealth inequality and corporate social control. It was thanks to this robust exchange of views and concepts that we were able to bounce off each other’s creativity and share in the joys of literary creation. I cannot thank Skye and Harrison enough for helping me work through my own insecurities towards writing, reviewing my long drafts, and giving some feedback on choice of wording as well.

It came as a shocking surprise to me when I discovered that I had been shortlisted for the prize - one of 43 young writers shortlisted out of all 570 entrants. This provided me with a major boost to my confidence in my writing, something that I am very grateful for. I was also able to make it to the Orwell Youth Prize Celebration Day in London, where I was able to meet with other talented writers and learn from their unique styles of writing. The fact that there were so many entrants there who were younger than me in age and yet possessed exceptional skill and talent - which I repeatedly identified and noticed during the read-aloud sessions - also alerted me to how much room I have for improvement, which was a necessary and constructive enlightenment for me. My entry, the unwieldy-titled The Dandelion Shall Never Return to the Sea of Flowers, was a piece of writing inspired by my own experiences as a migrant and someone who had long grappled with the concepts of belonging, inclusivity and home; though it unfortunately did not emerge victorious, I still am very proud of the personal viewpoints and experiences that I imbued into it nonetheless. I must say that I have thoroughly relished participating in the 2023 Orwell Youth Prize, and would recommend it to all who are interested in writing for pleasure, activism and change.

Orwell Youth Prize Shortlisted


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