Kindness Poetry Competition 2023

Winners – congratulations

Congratulations to Pravan Kubavat, Kyan Norris and Mattie Stone! Read their poems below.

We had hundreds of entries from across the country and it was a great pleasure to read them all. Thank you to everyone that entered and everyone that made this competition possible.

Pravan Kubavat

My Sister

I like to be kind
And think in my mind
It’s important to share
Because I really care

I hold my younger sister’s hand
I’m her favourite person in all the land
I help to feed her food
So she’s never in a bad mood

I like to put a smile on her face
And help do her tricky lace
I love being nice
Best thing, it doesn’t come at a price!!

Kyan Norris

The Kind Boy

I’ll tell you a story and you will see
what kindness really means to me.
The bully shoved the boy, to the ground,
the boy was hurt and rolling around.

An older child approached the scene.
He did not tease, he wasn’t mean.
Instead, he took the boy to a door,
when the boy came out, he wasn’t sore.

It was truly amazing what the child did that day,
he put himself out in a very kind way.

And I walked off, back through a hole.
A new light opened in my soul.
I know I think a bit out of the box.
But after all, I am a fox.

Mattie Stone


I get to school, the sadness on my shoulders.
Hunch down low and feel the snow in the crowded playground.
I trudge along the gravel breathing in.
Thoughts crash down as I hear my friends sing.
Their words bring me encouragement, kindness, support and it helps.
We link arms and walk along, heads held up high.
I feel the proudness fall into my heart.
Their kindness lifts up my joys and explodes my worries.
Such friends they are, such friends.

What does kindness mean to you? What does kindness look or feel like?

We asked children to write a poem on kindness for the opportunity to have their poem published by Otter-Barry Books!* This competition was judged by Waterstones’ Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho.


  • You must be 5 – 11 years old
  • Your poem must be no longer than 15 lines
  • It must be an original poem you have written about kindness
  • Only one poem is allowed to be submitted per entrant
  • You must live in one of these London boroughs:
    Brent, Bromley, Ealing, Greenwich, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lewisham, Merton, Newham, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and Westminster

Meet the readers

We would like to thank and acknowledge the hard work of our competition readers who assisted in shortlisting the entries for judge Joseph Coelho to choose the winners:

Nyanda Foday was Birmingham’s Young Poet Laureate 2016-2018, and is inspired by the impact that words can have to create, unite, explain and enjoy. She strives to connect with others where she can by sharing and listening to their work.

Stanley Iyanu is a performance poet and writer from London. His spoken word poetry style has been described as having the “gentle power of a slow ocean building. Before you know it, you’ll be rocking hither and thither to his sirenic-voiced languid lullaby and loving every tidal second of it”. His poems have been published in the Poetry Society magazine as well as internationally. He has performed across the UK, most notably for Apples & Snakes, BBC Radio London and for the Cheltenham Literature Festival, his debut poetry pamphlet is called ‘My Achilles’ and is published by Burning Eye Press. 

a trio of images. The first a cartoon boy in white vest that reads the boy lost in the maze. The middle image is an adult make in pink trousers and floral shirt jumping. The last image is a cartoon girl, holding hands with her younger brother.


See what judge Joseph Coelho says it takes to write a good poem:

  • Carry a notebook. No matter how good your memory or how wonderful an idea or phrase is, if you don’t jot it down as it occurs you’re likely to forget it so carry a notepad and a pen.
  • Explore poetic forms. Form can be a great way to explore a subject by giving you a creative restriction that often opens-up ideas and turns of phrase that you may never normally come up with. There are many great books on form that tell you about different types of poem including my own “How To Write Poems, as well as no end of websites that spell out how to create sonnets, villanelles, sestinas and the like.
  • Share your poems, write them in cards, declare them at birthdays, read them to your friends and families.

Watch this video for more tips

You can also check out these resources on Joseph’s website:
Fun videos on how to write poems!
More helpful tips and resources for writing poems!

*Please note the anthology prize is subject to funding, alternative prizes will also be available should funding be unsuccessful. This will be communicated to the winners ahead of the festival launch on 10 April 2023.

Spine Festival

This competition is part of SPINE Festival 2023.

Joseph is a big ambassador in working with children and believing in their ideas. His approach to workshops encourages the creativity and bold insight that children can bring to ideas. Read more about his work, poetry and process in this blog.