Meet Anjola Akerele, our Bill Pringle Poetry Award winner


  • “Through poetry, I have found a source of self-expression to let me recognise what I am really feeling."

As someone with autism and complex mental health difficulties, Anjola uses poetry as a form of expressing the way she feels and as an escape from the battles in her head. Being introduced to poetry and all its technicalities from a young age at school, Anjola found a real passion in it. At times, it can be hard for her to know what she’s feeling and has found that pouring her emotions out through words can be a real type of therapy.

Her poetry submission expressed the sense of exclusion she battled with every day at school. She felt that there was a lack of awareness at her schools of how to navigate neurodivergence, making it especially hard for children with autism and ADHD to feel included in the school environment and with schoolwork. Anjola has felt that poetry has been a natural source of expression for her, an easy flow once it gets going and a helpful source to release feelings of exclusion, pouring out both the good and the bad.  

Winning Poem:

Waking up already tired from my debilitating anxiety.
Melatonin after melatonin and still no satiety.
My thoughts keep me up, up they keep me.
Over thinking every little action i made and how that was perceived.
Jumping to conclusions or over-generalising or my binary perspective - it kills me.
And in the end, it’s the worst I believe.

Debating whether or not to go to school, a daily occurrence.
For starters, the people are a clear deterrence.
How will I function, when I’m already drained?
And the sounds of people talking will definitely be a pain.
I think of art and how I will miss it if i stay,
And that fuels me, giving me strength for the day.

A red sign plastered on my face that everyone else can read but me.
Ignore her, make fun of her, exclude her, leave her be.
Whatever it says is unimportant cause I can make it out
From the way I’m treated, it seems they’d rather be without.
Nobody makes an effort, and I often wonder why?
But it’s not solely about why, instead it’s about what their actions imply.

The Laughing Stock.
It seems i’m the problem and I just want to fit in.
Know when to laugh at jokes, look at people in their eyes even to just begin.
I don’t get the jokes people laugh at and it feels like they’re laughing at me.
Like i’m the issue or just weird to some degree.
The teachers think they’re teaching, not a word resonates.
Which means I go to school for nothing, how i wish they would allocate
Some time for me, to make sure I understand,
I end up having to teach myself everything firsthand.

The r-slur gets thrown about, more-so when i’m in the room.
It feels like all eyes are on me, and they consume
Every last bit of my confidence, i’m left with none.
And then going to school feels like a waste, I just feel done.
At times like this i want to disappear, or non euphemistically speaking: die.
To run away and never come back, without saying goodbye.

I wish school didn’t feel like such a chore.
A place I don’t feel like I belong, even before
I knew I was autistic, which definitely explained a lot.
But I was 16, and then it was too late,
The hospital became my second home and the consequences of being undiagnosed I had to face,
Which compounded my issues, at least now I know why,
I spent my days crying in the bathroom stalls, running away from it all.
In fact, I still do, from what I recall.

  • "This poem is about my experience of autism, specifically in a school setting that isn’t inclusive of my needs, hence relating to the subject of inclusion as I often feel excluded and talk about how I long for inclusivity."