Divine Chocolate announce winners of National Poetry Competition 2020
POSTED 3rd July 2020

“I wake up from deep slumber

in the heart of the rainforest

stretching my tender green shoots,

to sultry tropical warmth and rain.”

- Excerpt from Iona Mandal’s poem From Bean to Bar

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 colour 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,

Chocolate!

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 labour

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

Brown gold.

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

Brown gold.

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

Brown gold.

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 colour of

Brown gold.

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

Brown gold.

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

Brown gold!

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.