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The 13-year-old Syrian refugee who became a prizewinning poet

A year after learning to speak English, Amineh Abou Kerech has won this year’s Betjeman prize. She tells us how she found her voice

“I take words from anywhere,” says Amineh Abou Kerech, moments after winning the 2017 Betjeman poetry prize for 10- to 13-year-olds last week. “I take them from songs and films, from what I see on the computer or the television. And I put them all together.”

She makes it sound so simple. It’s anything but, according to her older sister Ftoun, who is smiling at Amineh across a pub table in London’s St Pancras station. “She sits in her bedroom all the time and practises, practises.”

When I remember my Syria I feel so sad and I cry and start writing about her

Related: The Very Quiet Foreign Girls poetry group | Kate Clanchy

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