Louise Greig wins The Caterpillar Poetry Prize 2024 with her poem ‘Foster Child’

‘This poem made me feel like a fly on a wall for a very dear and private conversation. The gentle rhyme and rhythm of the piece makes it feel like a dream where parent and child become forest spirits. I love the clever use of dialogue and the wonderful way that a play on words – foster and forest – create the impetus for the piece from start to finish. A highly accomplished beautiful piece of writing, doing what great poetry does, taking a moment in time and distilling it down to its magical essence.’ Joseph Coelho
‘I am quite stunned and overwhelmed. What an honour to be reconnected with the glorious Caterpillar Poetry Prize! Thank you to Rebeca and Will for everything you do to keep children's poetry alive, and enormous thanks to Joseph Coelho who has my greatest respect in the children's poetry landscape.’  Louise Greig
Louise won the inaugural Caterpillar Poetry Prize in 2015, and it has opened the door of opportunity to a lifelong dream of writing children's picture books. She has now had 13 picture books published, with more in the pipeline, and she is also currently working on a middle-grade novel in verse. In recent years Louise has been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the Teach Primary Book Awards, among others, and won the Manchester Writing for Children Competition and the Wigtown Poetry Prize. She lives in Aberdeen where she spends much of her time reading and gardening and is obsessed with animals

2nd prize | Boy in Uniform with Drum by Dean Atta

‘I loved how this poem gave voice to a voiceless boy, how it prompted me to search and discover the story of Taylor, Jackson, a 12-year-old slave (or was he 14?!) who became, or was made, a drummer boy during the American Civil War. This poem says so much so succinctly about freedom and agency, about what stories are told and how history can reframe a narrative. The lack of punctuation until the last line works really well, allowing the words to be voice free from any restriction. A great poem.’ Joseph Coelho

Dean is an award-winning author and performance poet. He won the 2012 London Poetry Award and was named as one of the most influential LGBT people by the Independent on Sunday Pink List. He has written two YA novels-in-verse, including The Black Flamingo, which was a top-selling debut of 2020 and was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize, CILIP Carnegie Medal, the Jhalak Prize and the YA Book Prize. The Black Flamingo was also awarded the prestigious Stonewall Book Award and the Carnegie Shadowers' Choice Award 2020. His first work of adult non-fiction, Person Unlimited, will be published by Canongate this summer.

3rd prize | How to Metamorphose by Rose Rahtz

‘This is a poem of empowerment, personal development and change. The rich language challenges and excites "Oh Wonderful! The lightning in your thorax" It makes me think of newfound strength and hope, of overcoming adversity and discovering a more powerful self. The poem invites the reader to look inwards and to see what power resides there. It offers a diversity of potential interpretation and I believe will truly have a different "reading" for every reader. That final repeat of "And the roaring. The roaring. The roaring." left me goosepimpled.’ Joseph Coelho
Rose lives in Kent with her husband and two children. She is a secondary school English teacher. She has written poems, short stories and novels since childhood. Her first poem, aged 5, was about an old blind elephant who crushed a sprouting seedling. It was pretty bleak. She began to find her voice and her confidence while attending an Arvon Foundation poetry course led by Greta Stoddart and Hugo Williams. Rose has only very recently begun sharing her writing. In the last few months, she has had short stories published by Fictionable @FictionableWrld and Nightshade Lit @nightshadelit and was utterly surprised and delighted to have been awarded 3rd prize in The Caterpillar Poetry Prize. She says she is honoured that Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho found something special in her poem and hopes others will too.

The Caterpillar Poetry Prize is an annual prize for an unpublished poem written by an adult for children aged 7–11. 
Every year since 2015, The Caterpillar Poetry Prize has been awarded to a single poem by a single judge – among them John Hegley, Chrissie Gittins, Roger McGough, Michael Morpurgo & Michael Rosen.
Previous winners include Coral Rumble, Laura Mucha, Carole Bromley and Ciara O’Connor.
1st prize €1,000 plus a week at Circle of Misse in France
2nd prize €500
3rd prize €250
The winning poems are published in the Irish Times online.  
Joseph Coelho was appointed Children’s Laureate in the UK in 2022. He started out as a performance poet and is committed to making the reading and writing of poetry accessible to all. He has said that poetry is often what people turn to in times of need, ‘because we instinctively know, deep down in our core, that poetry transcends.’
‘For the legendary Michael Rosen to have read my poem is thrilling. For him to have chosen it is the stuff of dreams.' Ciara O'Connor
'Winning The Caterpillar Poetry Prize brought me a book publishing deal and many wonderful opportunities thereafter. Thank you with all my heart.' Louise Greig
‘I am absolutely thrilled and delighted to have won The Caterpillar Poetry Prize. I actually cried with joy when I got the email. I have won a number of international poetry competitions with my poems for adults, but I can honestly say this tops them all.’ Carole Bromley

I was astonished and delighted to hear that I had won The Caterpillar Poetry Prize.’ Christine McBeth 

The Caterpillar is such a unique and inspired magazine. Winning The Caterpillar Poetry Prize is all shades of wonderful!’ Coral Rumble

‘I think The Caterpillar Poetry Prize is an important award, particularly as there are so few outlets for children’s poets, and it’s a huge honour to have won it.’ Laura Mucha
‘Like all of us, I spend more of my life than I’d like to reading emails. Recently I opened one from The Caterpillar. Now all I want to do is write something that could make a reader feel half as happy as reading that email made me.’ Fergal McNally



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