Pupils create poetry with us

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.

Nicola Abram

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:


Ever hunted

Whether I’m a monster

Or a human

Despised for this gift

This curse

This burden

I wished to do no harm

Blamed for a misconception

Yet now I disable any and all

Destroyer of life

My only company

My sisters

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

kicks in

And I ruin another innocent life

Just like mine was


– Aisha



Lost in the ocean

terrifying, empowering.

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.


– Nour

About Cindy

Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading. Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
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