The college runs a very successful Creative Writing enrichment activity. Mr Simpson and Ms Warburg decided that it would be fantastic to tap into some of the latent creative talent ‘out there’ in the general student population: hence the launch of the Poetry/Short Story competition in November. Students were invited to submit entries in one of the two categories on the theme of ‘uncertainty.’ Initial response was slow but as the deadline approached, in the time-honoured tradition of students handing in coursework at the last minute, entries started to flood in; Mr Simpson’s in-box began to fill with poems and stories from all areas of the college.

A team of assessors read each entry and eventually produced a shortlist comprising ten poems and five short stories; these were submitted to two judges, published author Matt Dryzmala, and Mark Newman, from Loreto’s English department. A special evening was then planned in April when writers, friends and family members could come into college, hear some of the entries read aloud and see who had come out on top in the judging.

This splendid event took place just after the Easter holidays, in the Ellis and Kennedy theatre, with a full house of contributors, proud parents, staff and even a group of pupils from St Damion’s High School. Mr Simpson and both judges highlighted the quality of the entries and explained how difficult it had been to make final choices. Matt Dryzmala read an extract from his latest novel before announcing the three winners in the short story section: Ahmad Mubarak, for his clever three part story; Aiesha Allison-Bramwell, whose story, Trams, had the judges intrigued and impressed in equal measure; and the winner, Deon Nash, with his entry ‘Imprisoned in the Heavens’, an admirable piece of writing with a strong narrative and dazzling descriptive passages. The three winners then bravely read a short extract from their stories to give the audience a flavour of the quality of their work.

Mark Newman reiterated how difficult the choice had been in the poetry category and illustrated the point by reading impressive extracts from each of the ten entries, including the three winners: Aleksandra Kozlowska, whose poem Stairs Stare showed an extraordinary level of maturity, with its world-weary, knowing tone; Heba Khalid, with her rap inspired, emotive, political Bombs Sound Like Fireworks; and the worthy winner, Bria Purdy, who combined a political message with a sophisticated use of language and an attention to structure in her poem Dear Mr President. All three then read their poems to the appreciative audience.

Mr Simpson and Ms Warburg were delighted with the whole enterprise and were pleased to announce that all the entries in both categories will be appearing in an anthology entitled The Loreto Creative Writing Annual.

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