'The Aptitude Test Kid' - Nadia Lines

Nadia Lines was named a winner of the 2019 Orwell Youth Prize for their poem, The Aptitude Test Kid.

'The Aptitude Test Kid' - Nadia Lines

The aptitude test kid knows
that if she cannot remember
the conjugation of être
her parents will sell their home.

The aptitude test kid knows
she holds her brother’s fate
in the pen in her palm.

What alphabet is Russian written in?
She sounds out the answer,
finger by finger.

How many tenses are there in French?
What’s the rent in the school’s catchment area?
What are the differences between Punjabi and Gujarati?
How many zeros in a mortgage?

The aptitude test kid knows.
The aptitude test kid spent her summer
reciting the answers by heart.

She knows how to decode language which endings
mean what:
the parents is a plural noun and the child is singular.

She sat at a desk
and learned
te amo, je t’aime
but has never heard them said
since the letter that gave her
the words she wished she was allowed to forget.

The look on her parents’ faces was untranslatable.
The aptitude test kid
knows every word for sorry
but pronounces each one of them
wrong.


We interviewed Nadia about their entry, and you can read the interview here.

The theme for the 2020 Orwell Youth Prize has been announced. For more information, including details on how to enter, visit the Orwell Youth Prize website.

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The Orwell Youth Prize

The Orwell Youth Prize

The Orwell Youth Prize is an annual programme for 12-18-year olds culminating in a writing prize. Rooted in Orwell’s values of integrity and fairness, the prize and the activities around it introduce young people to the power of language and provoke them to think critically and creatively about the world in which they are living.

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