News and blog

Creative writing at the Senior School

Creative writing at the Senior School
St Mary’s creative writing scholars: finding a voice

"No matter the circumstance, words can solve everything, and give answers to everything we could dream about. Words matter, so we should value them for what they give to us: a power to be free." Maddie, Year 11

This year, our creative writing scholars have been exploring, amongst other areas, how writing can give young people a voice with which to tackle issues that matter to them and to the world as a whole.

Writing for rights

Several of the competitions entered by our scholars have had a focus on global and political matters. The HART Prize for Human Rights, for example, aims to raise awareness of conflict, poverty and human rights abuses amongst young people in the UK, particularly situations underrepresented in mainstream media.

It also seeks to encourage young people to examine and engage critically with human rights issues by conducting independent research and producing written or creative pieces. Every piece entered needed to relate to one of the countries covered by the charity; you can read one of the poems entered for this competition, about South Sudan, by Jenna K opposite. 


Writing for unity

Several scholars entered a Global Acts of Unity competition, where the power of words is harnessed to help spread a message of unity, tolerance, and understanding. You can read Anna L.'s (Year 9) entry on unity below, which was shortlisted as in the top 25 poems out of 2,400 entries!  


Poetry workshop

Beyond pursuing their own writing, meeting for discussion and peer reviews, and entering competitions, our scholars also had the opportunity, on World Book Day, to take part in a creative writing workshop with Carnegie nominated author Louisa Reid, whose latest novel, Gloves Off, was published earlier this year.

The scholars, fueled by sandwiches and the famous St Mary’s cookies, took part in a number of writing activities led by the witty and dynamic Louisa, a former member of St Mary’s English department. Inspired by a poem called ‘Daughters’ by Phoebe Stuckes, a winner of the Foyle Young Poet of the Year Award, the scholars explored how their own voices can challenge the world and promote change. From mental health, to feminism, to parenting, to the environment, the scholars used poetry to take a stance on a range of demanding and thought-provoking topics.  

The final piece of writing below is by Maddie (Year 11).  

The Art of Creative Writing 

Since the beginning of time, humans have forever been searching for ways to express new ideas, creativity, and better improve the way we think and use the world around us. In many ways, creative writing gives uninhibited freedom. In the secular world we live in, time is a precious gift, a gift of time in which we become enraptured in fantasies, beyond wildest understanding. Emotions are stimulated expeditiously: anger, outrage, passion, empathy. In nothing else can humans experience both despair and elation within fractions of seconds. It’s freedom, in other words.  

According to cognitive research explored on NPR, if you read vivid language describing the action of say, a femur splintering, your mind doesn’t just see the words and paint a visual picture, your brain simulates the experience. If the writing is good, you might hear the femur crack, see a shard slice through skin, sense a shiver in your own femur. Feel your stomach turn. Words are some of the most powerful tools known to mankind. More powerful than any machine gun, weapon or criminal action. Words can stop a war and develop peace; machine guns destroy peace and escalate violence. If you can imagine what it feels like to be transported away from your armchair, into a entangling abandoned jungle, towards a rusty lighthouse, peeling and splintered by salt spray, then you can already tell why words matter so much. Creativity is developed through writing someone else’s story, be somebody else but you for an hour or so. 

No matter the circumstance, words can solve everything, and give answers to everything we could dream about. Words matter, so we should value them for what they give to us: a power to be free. 

By Maddie, Year 11 Creative Writing Scholar

Read more of our student work in our Scholars' Showcase 2020

Return to Magnolian 2020