This year, the Department of English Literature ran its first public creative writing competition, as part of the Reading Literature Festival and Reading Year of Culture. With the theme of ‘My Reading’, we invited 11 to 14 year olds from the local area to tell us what this town means to them.
Prize-winners L-R: Millie Phillips (Gillotts School), Tamanna Steven (The Holt School), Niyati Amin (The Holt School), Edward Day (Gillotts School).
We received over 250 entries, taking the form of poetry, short stories, and creative non-fiction. Our judges – prize-winning poet and novelist Peter Robinson, and children’s author Wendy Meddour – were impressed by the range of submissions, and were in agreement about our winners.
Niyati Amin (The Holt School, Wokingham) wrote a spooky short story about a ghostly progress through Reading. Judges wrote: “This chilling story is hugely atmospheric and carefully constructed. A very impressive piece of work.”
Edward Day (Gillott’s School, Henley) wrote a prose piece which imagines a raindrop’s journey through Reading. Judges wrote: “A ‘splatting’ rain drop is such an original idea for a narrator, and this young writer does it so well. This is a beautifully written piece, full of original imagery, and a structure that offers an endless potential for storytelling. Where will the rain drop go next?”
Millie Phillips (Gillott’s School, Henley) wrote a fictional diary by George Blackall Simmonds called ‘The Iron Lion’. Judges said: “This well-written piece is creative and economical in its structure. It captures the distinctive voice of its central character beautifully.”
The winner was Tamanna Steven (The Holt School, Wokingham) for a piece about Reading Gaol written in two different voices, one from the present and one from the past. Judges said: “This was a very sophisticated entry, full of shifts in register and changes of narrative style. Some of the text was so convincingly written that it was as though the words had been lifted directly from plaques in Reading Gaol! Incredibly believable. A clever piece of work that has clearly been produced by a very talented writer.” Tamanna received an engraved trophy, as well as book vouchers and a book by Two Rivers Press.
The winners were presented with their prizes by T.S. Eliot Prize-winning poet Alice Oswald, at the newly reopened Museum of English Rural Life, on Friday 4 November. Oswald then went on to mention Edward’s poem during her poetry reading for the 2016 Finzi Lecture!
Thank you to all our entrants, and congratulations again to our worthy winners.
Dr Rebecca Bullard, Lecturer in English Literature. once of the hosts of the event.