6th February 2024

Meet Our ‘I Have A Dream’ Writing Competition Judges

With just a week to go before the I Have A Dream writing competition closes, it’s our pleasure to introduce the distinguished judges who will lend their expertise to this literary celebration. These remarkable individuals bring a wealth of experience and passion for storytelling to the evaluation process, enriching the competition with their unique perspectives.

Bali Rai

A luminary in the realm of UK teen and children’s fiction, Bali Rai stands as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring writers. With over fifty books since 2001, Rai’s writing is a testament to the power of storytelling. Born in Leicester, his narratives are deeply rooted in his working-class, multicultural background, resonating with authenticity and relatability.

Rai’s commitment to promoting literacy is unparalleled, with over two decades of experience working with young people across the UK and beyond. His collaboration with leading literary organizations, including The Reading Agency and Booktrust, underscores his dedication to cultivating a love for reading among the youth. As a former Costa Book Awards judge, Rai brings a discerning eye and a passion for uplifting diverse voices to our competition.

Aliyah Begum

Aliyah Begum, a poetic force with a penchant for captivating audiences, graces our judging panel with her unique perspective. Having performed her work at COP26, the RSC, and Verve Poetry Festival, Begum’s poetry reflects a profound understanding of the written word’s emotive power.

Recognized as a Young Critic for the T.S. Eliot Prize 2022 by the Poetry Society, Begum’s journey as Birmingham’s Young Poet Laureate from 2018-2020 showcases her ability to intertwine personal and societal narratives seamlessly. Currently studying English at Oxford, Begum’s exploration of language and literature adds a dynamic layer to our judging panel.

As our participants embark on expressing their dreams and aspirations through the written word, Bali Rai and Aliyah Begum stand ready to appreciate and celebrate the creativity and imagination that will unfold. Their invaluable insights promise to make this writing competition a transformative experience for all involved.

Stay tuned for updates and let the inspiration flow as we weave dreams into words. Submit your entries by February 14th, and let the magic of storytelling unfold under the discerning eyes of our esteemed judges.