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Changing perspectives and finding new voices

Changing perspectives and finding new voices

Students at St Mary’s are always encouraged to find their voices and express their stories, and our Creative Writing Scholars have proven themselves powerhouses of imaginative expression in their exploration of voice and perspective this year.

Entering competitions is an excellent way to develop as a writer, and our scholars have had some super successes so far this year, with Imogen C winning second place in the Stepping into Stories competition for her short story The White Ice Skates and Grace P being shortlisted for the Young Walter Scott historical fiction prize. Meanwhile, Peggy T has enjoyed entering the BBC’s Young Reporter competition, using her journalistic voice to explore her experiences of moving to the UK from Hong Kong.

Our half termly workshops this year have focused on the idea of perspective: narrative perspective, character perspective, artistic perspective, historical perspective - to name just a few interpretations of the theme. Natasha L kicked us off with a workshop that encouraged us to re-vision fairytales and myths from a new angle; Hana M-P led a workshop on being inspired by different perspectives in art; and Niamh C led a workshop on character perspective, using AI generated images of people as a prompt.

The scholars were also incredibly lucky this year to be treated to a poetry workshop by Carnegie nominated author Louisa Reid, centred around the idea of Utopia. Using the powerful prose poem 'dear white america’ by Danez Smith as inspiration, the scholars created poignant poems addressed to something or someone whom they wished to listen up, take note, and make a change.

Here is an example, from Natasha L. in Year 13:

Dear huMANity,
I have left earth in search of glass, which even when broken lets the lights stream through. A light that does not penetrate the opaque concrete the supports your hierarchal pyramids, the thick grey scaffolding that cages you inside its sharp points and edges. I’ve gone away to a place of lines, simple geometry, open and horizontal where everyone stands on the same level, lines that stretch in long endless plains never wavering. Because I'm sick and tired of residing on the bottom of your pyramid, carrying the weight of your gaze as you peer down from your pinnacle. The pinnacle barred from us because of a self-imposed biological superiority complex that excludes the ‘faint’ and extols the ‘strong’. You forget that we can be strong too. I refuse to sit by, passive and meek as you call at us, sneer at us, stare at us, as if you somehow own someone else’s body, greedy school children who were never taught to keep their hands to themselves when it came to the lunches of the other kids. Why should race, ethnicity, age, or the small things like height, appearance, hair colour (Marie Curie was blonde you know) be the criteria that govern our lives, to do or die? Why should we have to smile, thin lipped, and grotesque in our lie as you patronize, snide, chastise; overstepping boundaries that you proudly build, erect and tall around your base to keep us from climbing up, up, up, boundaries that you slither through like sly spirits, hands grasping. Henry VIII, Jack the Ripper, Andrew Tate, a warped legacy of blood and lies and pain, so much pain that the modernisation of today cannot even chase away. I bid you keep your spite, shove it back down your throat so that you choke on your words, gurgling, spitting, froth foaming from vile mouths. I bid you keep your lingering gazes that sweep thick and fluid over bare skin, polluting it from afar with your lustful emissions. For I have flown away to escape your dark-fruited, convoluted, instituted, undisputed constitution that dismantles and manhandles with vandalising vulgarity sprayed on our paper skin. I have left this earth in search of glass plains free of soot and grime and slime-slicked corners. I sit in fields surrounded by nothing, the scars from the bone-breaking pressure of your pyramids fading with each passing heartbeat, each ray of light, each breath of wind.
And above me glass ceilings shatter, beautiful in their brokenness.