‘Once you take the first step of putting pen to paper, the rest is history!’

A young writers’ competition was held as part of this year’s Wimbledon BookFest, with entrants between 4-19-years-old being asked to submit a work inspired by the theme ‘My Name Is…’. Young people from more than 72 schools took part, and the overall winner was Jonathan Esenga from Raynes Park High, a year 9 student. 

Jonathan’s poem will be published in the 2021 Young Writers’ Anthology of Poems & Stories, and he will be honoured at a prizegiving ceremony on Friday 17th which features author Michelle Paver. We managed to catch up with Jonathan and ask him a few questions about his inspiration and more

How long did it take you to write the poem? 
I made a few notes across a few days, but when I wrote out the final piece and added finishing touches it took me about an hour. 

Do you like studying and reading poetry? 
I mainly get my poetic inspiration from rap music, when I look at the meaning behind the lyrics and the flow of the song and the feeling it gives to the listener. I try to emulate that in whatever I create. 

Who are your favourite writers and poets? 
My favourite musician or writer is definitely UK rapper Dave. He is known for his exceptional wordplay linking one thing to another in unimaginable ways, and he definitely inspires me when writing. 

You have a very impressive knowledge of current events – how do you keep up to date with everything that’s going on in the world? 
I mean, in lockdown it was all we heard about and obviously over the course of that year there were some monumental events that were impossible to miss. There’s obviously the news and social media that help with keeping up to date, and they helped me a lot when writing the poem. 

Would you like to carry on writing – is it something you could see yourself doing as part of a career? 
At this point in time it is just a hobby of mine, however I will definitely keep doing it and maybe take it more seriously in future. 

Who do you find inspirational, in your personal life, and in society in general? 
My family, one million percent! They’ve always inspired and motivated me to work extremely hard and go for every opportunity, in my personal life and career endeavours. They have always made me exercise my gifts and talents and keep working and pushing myself to become better, and that is something that will stay with me for life. 

What message would you have to other young people aspiring to write? 
It’s one of the best ways to express yourself, freely. My message is mainly – express yourself! Once you take that first step of putting pen to paper, the rest is history. 

My Name is 2020  
My name is 2020,  
I started many lives but ended plenty,  
A prosperous year inside many prayers,  
And all so determined this year would be theirs,  
Yet tragedy struck and to a name that holds weight,  
The shock of the passing of a basketball great,  
Many thought murder and began to conspire,  
Yet meanwhile Australia was struck by fire,  
Firemen died, the whole world was stilled,  
To honour the firefighters innocently killed,  
In pure disbelief and the whole world stung,  
Little did they know, the year was still young.  

My name is said the worst year to be seen,  
From issues of race to Covid 19,  
The pandemic left nations with an enormous task,  
But the world saw a saviour in the surgical mask,  
Restrictions in place and rules were applied,  
It was on Boris Johnson the UK relied,  
Millions glued to the news when they heard,  
The rules imposed on March 23rd,  
From cities like London to Paris and Rome,  
The whole world was told that they must stay at home,  
With many in lockdown and death rates rising,  
Many jobs lost but online businesses thriving,  
The public told to lend a hand to a friend,  
And follow the rules as they neared to the end.  

My name is 2020,  
With war being threatened and foes far from friendly,  
All was paused including education,  
To fight the real war of today’s generation,  
The awkward conversation which we all avoid,  
But was ignited by the death of George Floyd,  
Many campaigned for the whole world to see,  
A powerful message portrayed by the knee,  
Yet in a cry for help not all saw good,  
But simply a message misunderstood,  
Statues of slave owners smashed to a tatter,  
Their whole lives overshadowed by the screams BLACK LIVES MATTER,  
The horrid disease remains in the system,  
As the world continues to battle racism.  

My name is 2020,  
I’m sorry to everyone who may stand against me,  
I assure you that this was not what I hoped,  
So if it helps in any way I’m glad that you coped,  
A historic time on which we all reflect,  
And to all the key workers my utmost respect,  
In my final few days I must say I’m relieved,  
It’s my time to go as I stand here besieged,  
The memories of my life will stay with you forever,  
I hope that you have no regrets whatsoever,  
My back has turned it is now I am done,  
Goodbye and good luck for 2021. 

To find out more about Wimbledon BookFest, go to www.wimbledonbookfest.org