Joseph Coelho, award-winning children's author on a Thameslink train writing poetry to promote their new competition to encourage 5-13 year olds to write.

Choo choo choose poetry with Thameslink competition for kids

A poetry competition for five to 13-year-olds encourages children to step away from their screens and challenge their creativity whilst travelling by train.

Thameslink has launched the competition alongside Waterstones Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho, with the winners having their poems displayed on Govia Thameslink trains.

The poems need to be 50-150 words long, they can be about the children’s hometowns or a place that they love and have visited by train, promoting to readers why they should also visit by train.

Bestselling and multi-award-winning children’s author Coelho said: “I think it’s so wonderful that Govia Thameslink is doing this, I would have loved as a kid to have that opportunity to get my poems publicly published somewhere.

“It gives them the opportunity to write poems about their experiences and to see that their words can have power.

“I’m looking for joy, to see a poem where it’s clear that the young poet has had fun.

“I will also be looking out for the use of poetic devices, it’d be lovely to see some poems that have rhyme, maybe some alliteration or personification, metaphors or similes, it’d be lovely to see that passion for poetry coming through.”

The poem needs to be about somewhere on the Southern, Thameslink, or Great Northern network.

Ten winners will see their work displayed on trains and in stations across their network over the summer along with winning complementary return rail travel for themselves and four family members. 

This comes after research conducted by Govia Thameslink Railway and Opinium in March revealed that 80% of parents wish there were more ways to keep their kids occupied when travelling, without relying on tech. 

Jenny Saunders, Customer Services Director at Thameslink said: “As a mother myself, I know how hard it can be to keep children occupied when on the move.

“This poetry competition is a fantastic distraction aimed at sparking children’s creativity.

“We hope to inspire young explorers to take on an adventure by train this summer, with our far-reaching network that helps open the door to more!”

Coelho feels very passionate about removing the baggage that can come with poetry, speaking about starting as a young writer he describes it as quite a scary thing.

He started writing poems about how he felt when he was in year 8 of secondary school, they were sometimes, funny poems, sad poems and he even nervously shared some of them in secondary school.

Parents or guardians can submit their child’s entry here before Friday 10th May, with winners contacted on email between the 3rd-14th June.

To provide inspiration Coelho has written his own poem from a family trip to Hastings.

‘To Hastings We Go!’ by Joseph Coelho

To Hastings we go,

to Hastings we go.

Where smugglers

tell tales from long, long ago.

Antiques line the streets

from the pebbly shore.

Where art makes us think

and arcades galore. 

To Hastings we go,

to Hastings we go, 

back in 1066

what a royal show!

King Harold defeated

“Yikes what a blow!”

Shame he didn’t see

that naughty arrow.

To Hastings we go, 

to Hastings we go,

take a funicular ride

“Look out below!”

Go-karts whizz

by the swishing sea. 

Candy floss, rock –

fish and chips for me.

To Hastings we go, 

to Hastings we go,

a daytrip by train

little did we know…

So much to discover

on the southern shore

just my family and me

and a whole coast to explore.

Featured image credit: Peter Alvey for Govia Thameslink Railway

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