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#UniForReading: University graduate seeking poets for social justice – University of Reading

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#UniForReading: University graduate seeking poets for social justice

Release Date 30 March 2021

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Budding poets who are passionate about human rights are being called upon to lend their voices to the social justice movement by a University of Reading graduate.

The Poetry for Social Justice competition is being run by Reading Amnesty International Group and is part of the Amnesty Festival of Social Justice that is taking place across the region.

The theme of the poetry competition is social justice and human rights. The deadline for submissions is 23 April 2021, with a category for 16-17 year-olds and a category for adults. Entries are welcomed from across the UK.

Reading graduate Hilary Withey is a member of Reading Amnesty International Group, and one of the competition organisers. A change in career led her to study Health and Social Care at Reading as a mature student. Despite a busy job as a social worker, she began volunteering with Reading Amnesty International Group eight years ago.

Hilary said: "I've always believed that if you don't do anything, then nothing's going to change. I decided to get involved with Reading Amnesty because I felt their beliefs and values chimed with mine.

"We hope this competition will help raise awareness of the many human rights issues people are facing and encourage anyone interested to join our group. Poetry can be a powerful tool to spread the word and you can voice things more effectively through poetry, or indeed any art form, as opposed to lecturing people."

There is no entry fee for the competition, although donations are welcome, and prizes include a place on a choice of poetry courses.

There will also be a virtual finale event held on 27 May, 6-8pm. An ‘Evening of Poetry for Social Justice' will include poetry readings from the winners as well as from the judging panel, which includes well-known published poets and University of Reading lecturers, Professor Peter Robinson and Dr Yasmine Shamma - both from the Department of English Literature.

Last summer, Dr Shamma co-organised poetry writing workshops for refugees with Reading Refugee Support Group, encouraging them to write poems celebrating their identities and reconnecting with their memories of home.

Dr Shamma said: “Poetry at its best, convinces us, like Seamus Heaney said, of a “rightness” in the world. I am looking forward to reading these poems for social justice because they will explicitly be dealing with the kind of “rightness” we should be striving for.”

For more information, and to submit your entry, please click here.

To read an in-depth interview with Hilary, head to CONNECTED, our alumni magazine.


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