Read winning entries in 2017 COBIS Poetry Competition

Posted on 7th Jul 2017 in International Students

The COBIS 2017 Student Poetry Competition had the theme of ‘My Country; How I See It’.

Students were invited to write a poem on a country they identify with and their perspective on it.

Schools could submit three entries in each category so many schools ran an internal competition and submitted the winning three entries to the COBIS competition. There were 288 entries from 73 schools in total, giving the judges a very tough time!

John Catt Educational is proud to have sponsored the competition and to publish the winning entries, both in World Student magazine and now online. They are listed below:


1st: Imogen O’Connor – Jumeirah Primary School

Distant now, but close to me

Through the lens of my memory I see

emerging buds of fragile flowers

in fields surrounding tall church towers.

A carpet of dazzling blossoms look up,

bold daffodils and the shy buttercup.

Spring has come to English places,

bringing warmth to familiar faces.

Distant now, but close to me.

Through the lens of my memory I see

warm beach days filled with endless wonder,

picnics abandoned, sound of incoming thunder.

Rolling down hills to pass the time,

ice creams, cream teas, chilled glasses of wine.

Summer has come to English shores,

tempting families to venture outdoors.

Distant now, but close to me.

Through the lens of my memory I see

leaves falling off trees, naked and cold,

A blanket of warm colours, woods standing bold.

Evening now darker, shadows drawing in,

bonfires light the way for winter to begin.

Autumn has come to English skies

A last blaze of warmth enjoyed as it dies.

Distant now, but close to me.

Through the lens of my memory I see

choirs and carols and last minute shopping,

blankets of white with snowflakes still dropping.

Hats, scarves and gloves to wrap up tight,

there’s a storm coming in, it is freezing tonight.

Winter has come to English hearts,

Time for celebration as the old year departs.

Distant now, but close to me.

2nd: Jason Oghenefejiro Egoh – Start-Rite School

Nigeria: My Beloved Country

I see a Nigeria clothed in white linen,

Her skin glitters and glows like the wren.

Her lips brightened the earth of its darkness,

Unity, love and progress uphold her brightness.

She dances among the nations of the world joyfully

In a spirited atmosphere of goodness.

I see a spotless maiden with a pure mind,

Who stood with an undiluted smile that stays peacefully

Among the brethren who see enmity as foul wind.

I see an undefiled vegetable springing up

From the west coast of Africa among dwarfs territories.

She is a cute singing bird with a songful mouth.

Behold, Nigeria is working like beauties

In the eyes of born-beholders smiles,

Working like the brightest midnight-born moonlight.

When she walks past the trees

On the splendid golden streets,

They all waved in admiration of her beauty.

For she harbours no corruption in her humble heart;

No pothole skins like others who walk afar off.

She is an African woman with splendour.

Her beauty is natural with original flavour.

Though she may look a little weak today,

I see her blossoming like a flagrant flower on a bright day.

3rd: Thomas Uchiumi-Jones – The British School in Tokyo

Oh How I Long to Be There…

The silvery lake glimmered in the winter sun,

Trotting along the grassy path having so much fun,

In the distance but not so far away

We see the magnificent Fuji over the bay.

Oh how I long to be there with my mum and dad,

Oh how I long to be there, moving away is too sad.

The slippery ice shining in the morning sun,

Skating around the obstacles, my happiness has gone up a ton

In the distance a long long way, I see my mum skating away.

Oh how I long to be there with my mum and dad,

Oh how I long to be there, moving away is too sad.

The glittery stones shimmering in the afternoon sun

Making them glow and choosing my favorite one,

Looking at all these crystals today makes me want to stay.

Oh how I long to be there with my mum and dad,

Oh how I long to be there, moving away is too sad.

CATEGORY B – AGE 11 TO 14   

1st: Zachary How – The British School of Brussels

Land of The Bauhinia

Skyscrapers cut the sky, as the market sellers

cut their day’s catch.

I hear the cries of the city

in all its glistening glory.

Offices, Banks, Shops, Restaurants.

Apartments and airplanes, mansions and mountains.

All this, an arcadia to the elementary tourist.

There is another side of my city.

Crime and grime, heists and fights.

Nothing is paradise behind the face of this city

Neon signs and velvet curtains.

A veneer of respectable.

But behind the bars, and in the alley ways.

The dollar changes hands.

Soak in the sights.

Ride the tram, catch the ferry, see the Buddha.

Buy your bargains, a touch of chinois

The latest iPhone, gold Lexus’ and ladies who lunch.

But leave the malls, and take the back streets

Street side barbers, woven baskets smelly fish stalls

Sit cheek to cheek with shiny new eateries

The latest fusion, a new Eurasian.

2nd: Maia Troconis – British International School of Stockholm

Two hearts or two halves? (Venezuelan and Swedish)

How can one live with only half a body?

Half a mind, half a heart?

Half right here, creating memories, creating bonds

Half halfway across the world, remembering memories, remembering bonds


So I wake up, from troubled dreams

An unanswered question in my mind

Like a stabbing knife, breaking my heart in two

Where is that place where I belong?

Outside, in the darkness, crickets chirping, toads cackling

The silence of the birds, waiting for the crack of dawn

When all the world explodes into colour

To erupt into song

I can feel the warm sun wrapping its arms around me

I can swim and bathe in pure blue, an endless canvas

Speckled with waving algae, shiny pebbles, coloured fish

The warm waters of my Caribbean sea

I can breathe the humid air of the tropical rainforest

I can hear the torrent of falling water

Coming down from the mountains

Where the Angels Falls are born

But I can also hear the howling of dogs

in the cold winter night

Smoothly pulling my sled over the soft clouds of heaven

to amaze me with the Northern Lights

I can listen to the silence of the evergreen forest

Covered in snow and frost

I can feel the mild wind that greets my cheeks

And the snowflakes that cloud my eyes

I can feel the softness of the reindeer skin

I can find delight in a blueberry pie

The rush of happiness, my heart jumps in joy,

As I plunge into the cold Baltic sea

This is when I understand

There are two countries, two skies, two loves,

Two places to know, to feel, to grow,

Two countries to respect, two cultures to embrace

One heart that breaks in two with love

Two countries deep in my heart

Two countries in which I rejoice

3rd: Laranya Pawer – The International School of Moscow

Boundless arcs of opalescent skies, are braided with argent gems,

Rippling oceans hemmed with ivory-white crests, soothe the emollient sand,

Pale as wax roses, are motionless watermelon-pink stars on thin and delicate stems,

A smoke-grey wolf, napped under the dappled shade of an ancient oak, looking grand,

Gold and blue fairies flittered around the place, black eyes scanning every inch for soft nest padding,

Snakes as green as foliage, slithered soundlessly through the layers of littered lime fronds,

Feline-like eyes observe every thing from an almost human face, with long hair drifting in the pond like grass, equally green and fine, but layered with water bubble cladding,

Moody fire-elves flickered, sometimes in one place then nowhere to be seen, singeing oleanders and destroying deceiving bonds,

And in the middle stands a tree, a tree which has been growing for centuries, a cherry blossom of new beginnings:

This my place, this is my home; Satella’s Sakura

The latest fusion, a new Eurasian.


1st: Jessica Davies – The British School of Brussels

If I honestly tell you about my country

The first things that come into mind

Are the identical faces and identical clothes

Individuality closely confined.

Girls my age are duplicates

Under pressure to conform

Lacking the confidence to be different

Too hard to break out of the norm.

One Snapchat of the perfect life

Displayed for all to see

Invoking envy, incompleteness and spite

But what is the reality?

2nd: Lamees Abu Saad – International Community School, Amman


and I question my reality

I question my faith

I question my nationality

because I remember growing up in a place

where we sang;


and I still wonder where my roots came from

spreading from Palestine, Syria and

I question whether we are separated

of if we’re actually one?

controlled by the world

but why does the world

actually control us?

I came from a place

where orange trees used to grow

during the cool spring days

but now we are left with the Arab spring,

and all that’s left growing is the road

to our separate ways,

yet people are left blind,

and when they are allowed to see,

they are given glasses that are blurred

with mediocrity…


and I am still bathing in mockery,

as I have lost my tag,

the tag that determined my birth,

my name and nationality,

I wonder when I will free myself

from this misery

and find that which determines

MY identity…


and I have seen more deaths

than death itself has ever seen,

so would I call a ‘slaughter-house’

my country?


and my mother tongue

demands to speak for me,

she speaks with pride

on behalf of all the middle eastern countries,

she screams;

3rd: Ivetta Malyshko – The International School of Moscow

Civic cemetery

Through the ash walls, frosted towers

The concrete kingdom calls upon.

With weeping rising to the heavens

And dropping scavenger-like hale.

The hearts of brass in roaring monsters

Assailing dusted roads that lead nowhere.

Brutal engines will exhale the haunting moan

through rusty throats into the hoar.

Lines and parallels of lamp posts,

Hanging low with weighty sorrow

Before the clouds drift across

the sunless sky dipped in tomorrow.

Silver threads of woven cords

Shocking the terrain towers.

Veining, hovering the mirror-ground magnified

behind sweaty glass, translating calibrating madness into groan.

And dark perfume will dangle there.

Gassing in between the leather coats

Lingering to grimaced coal faces

In suffocating smoky spheres and petrol stations.

Hierarchy of status

Dashed with the effortless hours of terrors and labor

Vice the harmonically comfortably lit spectators of chaos tabor

Of riots lead by cold metal traitors.

Deprived from light that lures the blind

Empty minds drowning down in dirt and molds.

Under distorted undergrounds

Where tunnels spread and light has no chances.

So lays the city hung in riches

Which hungers dreams that levitated,

Portrayed to bone-chill nightmares.

Impaled, peaked through patches, stitches.