Divine Chocolate and Christian Aid are delighted to announce the winners of their 18th Annual National Poetry Competition, which is open to children and adults across the UK.
The theme this year was Where does the chocolate journey begin? and Onjali Raúf, winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2019, was guest judge and selected the winning poems.
The competition was divided into three age groups, and this year’s winners are:
7-11: Anna Ronay, Bath
12-16: Iona Mandal, Birmingham
Adult: Jane Bower, Cambridge
Onjali Raúf: “We had over 700 entries – a staggering amount of beautiful poems – and it took us quite some time to come up with the winners!”
Mandy Bobrowski, Marketing Director at Divine: “This year’s theme really encouraged our poets to use their imaginations and explore the origins of the treat we all love: the cocoa trees growing in the rainforests of West Africa, and the farmers that tend them.”
You can watch the winning poems being read by Onjali Raúf on Divine Chocolate’s YouTube channel.
Each of the winners and runner ups received Divine chocolate hampers and book tokens.
Winners and runner ups of the 2020 Divine Chocolate & Christian Aid National Poetry Competition
Age Category: 7-11
WINNER: Anna Ronay
This chocolate of mine
As I start to devour this chocolate of mine,
A puzzling thought comes into my mind.
How did this chocolate come to be?
And why do I find it so yummy?
Who would have known cocoa grows on trees?
And that the beans taste as yucky as peas!
Who would have known there were fifty beans in a pod?
And their color is unexpectedly odd!
Who would have known that families pick the bean?
And the women wear dresses in every bright sheen!
Picking, fermenting, winnowing, conching, tempering and couverture,
They’re all words I didn’t know before!
From pod to bean
From bean to nib
Nib to cocoa mass
Cocoa mass to butter
Butter to powder
Powder, milk, flavour,
I take another mouth-watering bite,
As I’ve worked up quite an appetite
But this time it tastes different, even more chocolatey
Because now I appreciate all the hard work done for me.
Now I know more about this chocolate of mine
It really and truly tastes utterly divine.
Age Category: 7-11
RUNNER UP: Beatrix Byrne
The journey of cocoa
Bringing down the pods from the tall, tall trees.
Breaking and pulling to get out the beans.
Browning and drying in the hot, hot sun
And driving away … the journey’s begun.
Sizzle. Crack! The first bean popped.
Now we’re roasting and it can’t be stopped.
Pour in the beans with a crunch, smash, smash!
Taking off the outer shell without it getting mashed.
Squeeze, squeeze get the cocoa liquor out.
Add sugar and butter and mix it throughout.
Plsh! Plsh! Plsh! The bars are formed,
Wrapped carefully in their gold uniforms.
Snap! I bite down, it melts in my mouth.
A taste of pure happiness – without any doubt!
Age Category: 12-16
WINNER: Iona Mandal
From bean to bar
I wake up from deep slumber
in the heart of the rainforest
stretching my tender green shoots,
to sultry tropical warmth and rain.
Mother Nature nurturing her fruit of labor
cocooned within her folded leafy palms.
Fingers stained, from pods dangling like uncut rubies
in the verdant greenwood crown,
she wraps my kernelled heart and pulpy flesh
sustaining each breath with nourishment,
masking bruises and softening blows
like amniotic fluid.
But lessons in life come hard.
I am pushed with fellow outlaw beans,
roasted by fire in tribunals,
for in my world, the fittest survives.
I am weaned to maturity, scrutinized to perfection
skin shed by dexterous fingers; aroma soaked in, until,
I bleed liquid, brown gold, in divine delight,
for umpteen mouths to devour.
I unite the rich and poor alike, in taste
cocoa farmers and lovers of chocolate,
in family back gardens and plantations,
while belonging to this earth, my global village.
Fruit of cooperation, harbinger of change
connecting since birth, the hands that nurture,
and communities who celebrate my roots to flourish
narrowing gaps, building bridges, such is my reach!
“This is who you are, lest you forget”, mum whispers,
holding me up to the sun,
as if in homage to my forefathers.
“For tradition lasts longer than wealth,
little pod, my tree of life, my world.”
Age Category: Adult
WINNER: Jane Bower
Where does the chocolate story begin?
Deep in the Aztec past, long years ago,
Deep in the warmth of southern Mexico,
It was believed the god, Quetzalcoatl,
Gifted seeds of magic, xocolatl,
Gifted cacao seeds that were
Precious were they, used as coinage there,
And as tomb offerings, their value rare.
A bitter drink they made, for strength and health,
A beverage prized, and symbolising wealth,
A currency that might be called
The centuries rolled; cacao’s mystic thrall
Spread farther, wider, now desired by all,
And to West Africa it made its way,
To Ghana’s rainforests, and São Tomé,
Whose fertile soil resembled rich
Ensuring the well-off could have their treat
The poor it was who worked in tropic heat -
Hands felling pods with cutlasses held high,
Hands spreading pale fermenting beans to dry -
Skilled, expert hands the color of
And then there came the justice of Fairtrade,
The practical support of Christian Aid,
Small family farms and wages that are fair
Forests protected so that all can share
And work together to produce
What is it, this brown gold, this product fine?
Chocolate, pure chocolate, Divine!
Its quality and flavour best by far,
Its workers treated justly, bean to bar.
Be proud to tell the story of
Divine, and taste the glory of
Age Category: Adult
RUNNER UP: Lucia Malvone
The birds sing of chocolate.
Whooping cries through stifling air-
There where sun bites at unclothed soil,
and creatures flee from noise and toil.
Swing of sickle, drop of sweat,
heavy breaths in hot sunset.
Falling pods, hack of knife-
Bitterness is the reward of strife.
But the birds still sing of chocolate.
A tired smile, a day’s work done,
sweetness, soon, will come
to those who braved the stifling sun;
Then and there, a smile will dawn
and love of chocolate will be born.
They’ll know why the birds sing of chocolate.