This autumn, First Story ran a fun new bi-annual competition called Regional Writing Stars. This competition is designed to highlight regional voices and provides us – the team at First Story, across the country – with a chance to really engage with the beautiful and brilliant work we so love to champion.
Regional Writing Stars is a competition borne of our Writers-in-Residence’s suggestion to run regional as well as national competitions, so that we can recognise even more of the amazing work written by our young writers across the country.
We asked them to pick a piece that best represented their school this Autumn term, which is a difficult thing to do. It’s hard to pick just one fantastic piece when we know there are so many to choose from. Yet, we were delighted with the quality of the work submitted to us and, trust us when we when we say that, we had an equally difficult time selecting the winners.
Now, without further ado, I am delighted to announce the winners from each of the regions:
‘I am from’ by Esther-Naomi Kursite-Kobri from Fulham Cross Girls’ School, London
I am from moving millions of times from house to home.
I am from eating a cheeky deep fry whenever I am out.
I am from the echoing sound of a ball swish.
I am from money for millions of uses.
I am a scream of missing me.
I am from coming home to sleeping beauties
wrapped tight in a bland blanket.
Regional Programme Officer for London, Emma Leahy, said:
From its stark, opening line describing the upheaval of moving from place to place – a familiar and poignant experience for so many Londoners – this was a stand-out piece of writing for me. There are some powerful glimpses into Esther’s daily routines and I’m sure that ‘cheeky deep fry’ resonates with most of us when we are out and about in the capital!
Esther obviously has a strong sense of ‘home and family’ and leaves us feeling both cosy and comforted. Her ‘sleeping beauties wrapped up tight’ allow us to be optimistic about the future and all our desires for permanency.
East Midlands Winner
‘Poems aren’t poetry’ by Hamzah Sidat from Judgemeadow Community College, Leicester
what I hate about trains are their wings
what I love about darkness is its light
what I hate about tables is their seats
what I love about rules is their unpredictability
what I hate about knives is their love
what I love about food is its sound
what I hate about ice is its heat
what I love about cement is its flexibility
what I hate about football is its baskets
what I love about locks is their freedom
what I hate about floors is their ceilings
what I love about clouds is their sunshine
what I hate about maths is its creativity
what I love about art is its logic
what I hate about colours is their smells
what I love about Ibrahim is his positivity
what I hate about laughter is its seriousness
what I love about meetings is their fun
what I hate about ink disappearing is its permanent stain
what I love about water is its dehydration
what I hate about sleeping is its tiredness
what I love about legs is their arms
what I hate about arms is their legs
what I love about the internet is its safety
what I hate about babies is their maturity
what I love about herbivores is their meaty diet
what I hate about medicine is its disease
what I love about randomness is its rules
what I hate about power is its weakness
what I love about irony is its predictability
Regional Programme Manager for the East Midlands, Jess Tickell, said:
I love this poem because it’s full of surprise and humour, and at the same time, each line provokes thought at a deeper level too. Some lines made me laugh out loud: ‘what I hate about meetings is their fun’ followed straightaway by a line which made me stop short with its power: ‘what I hate about ink disappearing is its permanent stain.’ And with lines like: ‘what I love about rules is their unpredictability,’ in a piece which seems to break all the rules but at the same time stays cleverly within the confines of its structure, I think Hamzah is joyfully giving us permission to do the same every time we engage our imaginations and put pen to paper.
East Yorkshire Winner
‘Outcast’ by Madison Kendall from Malet Lambert School, Hull
Outcast to a prison six feet under
Held down by a family that is connected
No matter how far apart.
Connected by every split, every fall and bend.
An open treasure chest channelling through the branches.
Being lifted and taken by the birds
That fly with the stars and moon.
Wishes that were stolen and you became an outcast
You sink into a hole of disparity and
Become weighed down by the emptiness
Of your mind and the guilt of your conscience.
Hearing the whispers and the rumours snap
Beneath your feet.
Your wish becomes alone. Despairing. An outcast.
Regional Programme Officer for East Yorkshire, Jessica Fear, said:
I happened to be there when Madison had the inspiration for this piece: the writing group were outside wandering the local park, looking at the trees and the sky for inspiration. That experience resonates through this poem, with the semantic field of nature permeating each line.
What I like most about this poem, though, is how it transcends the physical, the tangible, and cuts deep into the emotional experience of rejection: something everyone has felt at some point in their lives. It does this really cleverly, not just by focusing on the hurt and the isolation which characterise rejection, but also by giving us a glimpse of the hope and connection that we all long for, especially if we don’t have it. It’s a beautiful, delicate poem with superb imagery that I know I shall think of whenever I am strolling through a park in wintertime.
And there we have it! Three very worthy winners, all of whom will find a certificate and a prize winging their way to them shortly.