About Us competition judges

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and broadcaster Rachel Riley join the judging panel of nationwide competition for young people’s poetry and Scratch animations


Download full ' About Us competition judges' press release (PDF)

Winning entries to feature in About Us, a thrilling outdoor event exploring 13.8 billion years of history, which opens UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK in March 2022.

59 Productions Collective - Stemettes, The Poetry Society and 59 Productions - are delighted to announce the names of the judges selecting entries to the About Us poetry and Scratch animation competition for young people aged 4 to 18 years old in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

About Us is one of ten major projects that make up UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK - a UK-wide celebration of creativity and one of the biggest events of 2022. Young people have until midnight on Sunday 9 January 2022 to get creative, and send in their entries. Our judging panel can’t wait to see them.

Bringing together poets, educators, scientists and technologists, the About Us competition judges will include:

Simon Armitage - Poet Laureate

Ghislaine Boddington - co-founder and Creative Director of body>data>space and Stemettes Trustee

Ifor ap Glyn - National Poet of Wales

Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE - Co-founder and CEO of Stemettes

Kathleen Jamie - Scots Makar Keith Jarrett - writer, poet, performer, educator, UK and International Poetry Slam winner

Rachel Riley - author and TV broadcaster (Countdown, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown)

Stephen Sexton - award-winning Northern Irish poet

A selection of the young people’s work will be chosen to feature within an amazing live show in spring 2022. About Us is a free large-scale outdoor event for all ages that combines live shows with multimedia installations to tell the story of the infinite ways in which we are connected to the universe, natural world, and one another - from the Big Bang to the present day. It will open UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK on 1 March 2022 in Paisley.

‘Connectivity and the universe’ is the theme of the About Us competition and young people across the UK are invited to enter a poem or Scratch animation project, or both, that reflects on the many ways in which life across the universe is interwoven. To spark creative inspiration, young people, and their parents, teachers and youth workers are encouraged to explore the About Us microsite which features a raft of free digital resources from leading poets and scientists on subjects ranging from whale song to astrophysics, cell migration to climate impact. The competition is now open and will close on Sunday 9 January 2022 - so there are just three more weeks to enter!

The competition is an invitation to look at the world through fresh eyes, to illuminate the things that help us understand the wonders of the world from a new perspective. Inspiration might be drawn from the collapse of massive stars and the formation of black holes where nothing and nobody escapes the pull of gravity or the oceans’ circulatory currents that carry food and nutrients to sustain our wildlife or even the beauty of fungal habitats deep down in the rainforest where the world’s future medicines lie awaiting discovery. The choices are as vast as the universe, and the competition is now open to enter at: https://aboutus.earth/competition. Winning entrants will be published in a digital anthology, win mentoring opportunities and other prizes as well as the opportunity to feature in About Us.

From March to May 2022, About Us will run for a week in Paisley, Derry–Londonderry, Caernarfon, Luton and Hull with bespoke multimedia installations open throughout the day, and multiple free projection mapping shows every evening. The evening shows will transform buildings and landmarks in each of the five towns and cities into a vast canvas featuring bespoke animations, cutting-edge projection mapping technology set to a brand new score by composer Nitin Sawhney performed by local choirs. During the daytime outdoor installations will incorporate submissions from the About Us competition in a celebration of the boundless creativity of children and young people from across the UK; winners will be announced on 28 February 2022.