Junior Poetry Festival @ the BRAW Poetry jury

Chiara Basile, one of the founders of our festival, was part of the jury for the 2021 BolognaRagazzi Award and in particular of its special section for POETRY that was inaugurated this year.

It was a great opportunity to get to know the best poetry for children and young adult published all around the World in the last five years. There were more than 200 books in the competition and the quality was very high, so it was a full immersion into the beauty of verses and pictures.

The jury agreed quite easily on the winner, Cajita de fósforos, curated by Adolfo Córdova and illustrated by Juan Palomino for Ediciones Ekaré (Spain). A breathtaking anthology of Iberoamerican poems written in the last one hundred years by different poets in various countries, with the common characteristic of being without rhyme.

Here is a translation of the author’s postface, a wonderful, precise explanation of what is poetry, that we at the Junior Poetry Festival want to share with you:

If you’ve ever put a conch shell next to your ear, you will then know there are wonders that are heard but can’t be seen. Listening is believing there is a whole sea contained in there or a thunder falling between the hills or a howl aiming at the moon. Then, maybe you will see in your head the waves coming and going, the storm unraveling, the pack of wolves hunting. But they sounded first, the sound made you open your eyes.

Poetry is like that: it sounds, it beats, it thrums; it loves to be read out loud, it comes through the ear and goes out through sight. It started to sound from mouth to mouth and to move the bodies of those who pronounced it thousands of years ago. And since then it has changed and walked along the pace of humankind.

As a poem collector, I wanted to make a selection for children and young people that would harmonize in a different way, without rhyme. […]

I found a guide in some questions: who were the first ones to dare to break the traditional children’s poetry form by taking away the rhyme and metrics of it? Who continued this audacity and imagined childhoods that sounded different? Who continues to do so to this day, exploring new timbres and themes?

The jury also identified four special mentions:
* Tiger, tiger, burning bright!, another wonderful anthology made up of 366 poems about all sorts of animals, a real treasure curated by Fiona Waters and illustrated by Britta Teckentrup for Nosy Crow (UK);
* Love letter by Animo Chen, Locus Publishing (Taiwan), a declaration of love for books, an extended love poem magnificently illustrated by the same artist who wrote the text;
* The girl who became a tree, a novel in verses by Joseph Coelho, the story of a girl who lives in a contemporary age but whose name – Daphne – anticipates her fate, a great reading for young adults with dramatic illustrations by Kate Milner;
* Niños by María José Ferrada and María Elena Valdez, Alboroto (Mexico), a book that we needed and would have liked not to exist: a delicate, colorful and tender tribute to the 34 children who were killed or disappeared during Pinochet’s regime in Chile.

All the covers and the full motivations of the jury can be found on the Bologna Children’s Book Fair page.