On Thursday 30 June, the University of Reading welcomed more than 50 Year 9 pupils from John Madejski Academy (Reading), Reading Girls’ School, and Beechwood School (Slough) to spend a day studying English Literature and Classics.
Pupils participated in workshops spanning Greek mythology to contemporary poetry, looked at some ancient archaeological objects, and learned what was ‘True or False’ about university life. They also met some current and recent undergraduates and enjoyed a campus tour.
After seeing how Medusa was denied a voice in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, pupils worked hard to imaginatively inhabit her perspective through their own creative writing. The results were emotionally powerful and formally impressive. Here are just two examples:
Whether I’m a monster
Or a human
Despised for this gift
I wished to do no harm
Blamed for a misconception
Yet now I disable any and all
Destroyer of life
My only company
Burdened with immortality
Because of the their victim
Blamed for a deed
That was not her own
Oh I wish the hunt was over
Let them come and claim their prize
Then the predator in me
And I ruin another innocent life
Just like mine was
Lost in the ocean
The tide comes too close
my screams are still drowning.
I wake up and all around me
familiar faces go cold
those adoring eyes go stoic
no matter what I say you won’t hear what you’ve been told.
So my cries grow sharp, venomous
no longer will I be your prey
legends confound the thought of me
and in my own reflection I lose my say
my beauty, my innocence, my radiance
a monster born and killed no more.