We are very pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Young Norfolk Writing Competition, and the identity of the second ever Young Norfolk Laureate.
Announced on Friday at a special ceremony, the six winners, ranging from 11 to 18 years old, were selected by judges from a pool of 350 entries from 44 schools in the region – double the number of entries on the previous year.
- Sarah Durban, 11, from Avenue Junior School for ‘Compass’ (prose/graphic story)
- Rosie May, 11, from Langley School for ‘A well full of nonsense’ (poetry)
- Nicola Mathew, 14, from Springwood High School for ‘Phoenix Lights’ (prose/graphic story)
- Hannah Richmond, 17, from City of Norwich School for ‘Child’s Play’ (prose/graphic story)
- Ciera Drury, 18, from Dereham Sixth Form College for ‘100 Years of Silence [Women’s Vote]’ (poetry/lyrics)
- Alannah Young, 18, Reepham College for ‘Standing in the post office queue of Magdalen Street Roy’s on a Thursday at 11am’ (poetry/lyrics)
Ciera Drury was also announced as the 2018 Young Norfolk Laureate. Over the coming year, she will encourage young people across the region to enjoy reading and writing, in and outside of the classroom.
As the Young Norfolk Laureate, Ciera will also receive creative and professional development opportunities from NCW. The region’s first Young Norfolk Laureate, Joe Webb, completed his laureateship by taking the stage at Latitude Festival to perform his poem ‘Peripheral Vision’, which won the Young Norfolk Writing Competition 2017.
Scroll down to read the winning entries for this year’s competition.
‘100 Years of Silence [Women’s Vote]’ by Ciera Drury
Plagued by her thoughts; an unfamiliar voice
Utters words of depreciation
That permeate the silence
The depths of her mind etched out
In a cross of grey
Smudging her opinion
& craftily painted lips
Colour staining porcelain skin
Is she worth more than this?
She holds a touch that’s feather-light
& sleek as a ballroom floor
A symbol of fragility
Encased in a false serenity
Adorning her heart on her sleeve
As she paces relentless streets
Filled with dark corners &
Societal mourners grouped in an
Protest leaks from the edges
Of delicately pencilled eyes
Fluttering from the lashes of
An unbound compromise
Why should women have to disguise
& present themselves with a mask,
To be a walking “pop of colour” with a mind kept
Sheltered in the dark?
One hundred years of silence
& a proudly retained composure
Held together with a smile & the promise
Of change creeping ever closer
She isn’t just an object
Which is easy on the eye
She’s not merely a victim
Failed by a system
That doesn’t try
To mediate opinion
& value individual worth
For this girl is wholly human
& that’s what should be put first
‘Standing in the post office queue of Magdalen Street Roy’s on a Thursday at 11am’ by Alannah Young
Another plane of existence // where 11am means nothing and time is marked // not by the ticking of a clock but // the occasional shuffling of foam-soled shoes // the inconsistent flickering of stained-tooth-yellow panel lighting // and one, two, three, six requests to withdraw state pension
a plane where feet are shifting and bulbs flickering // you keep breathing and sighing and breathing and your colostomy bags // will just keep on filling and somehow it’s still
‘Child’s play’ by Hannah Richmond
“You can’t scream,” she told him, one of her ponytails hanging loose. She spoke like there was always a sweet in her mouth – smiled like it, too. He always knew he could trust her when she smiled like that. “Or the dragon will get you.” She yanked at his collar, patted his shoulder. Tilting her head, she said, “Understand?”
Of course he understood.
He obliged, of course, with his hands in his lap and the sun in his eyes. He wouldn’t need to scream, he said – princes weren’t afraid of dragons, or monsters, or any of the creatures she conjured in the air, pinky finger trailing. He wasn’t afraid.
The other children had gone; Jake’s head floated in a bush, eyes covered with play-dough hands. “Ten,” he chanted. “Eleven.”
“Go,” she prompted, showing the black hole between her teeth.
The forest was his best bet. He had known that since they had arrived. He had stared into its depths and it had stared back. Now, as his feet battered the grass, he could feel the thrum of the wind in the leaves; an easy, gentle, excitement that trundled through his heart. The treetops flew out into the distance, catching the sunlight in their bewitched fingers: crown after golden crown after golden crown. When his feet first sunk into the rich mud, the aroma – a thick, antique perfume – rose up and hung around his head like a necklace. Delicate, the sunlight dipped into shadow, and he couldn’t stop (“twenty five,” cried Jake, “twenty-“) but he wanted to, if only to gawp, if only to pretend he could see every mile these sturdy trunks conquered.
No one would find him here.
Here, sound didn’t exist. He snapped twigs and thrashed leaves, and still the silence slept on; he whistled and howled and sang, and still he got no warning, no scornful chide. Golden – saffron – golden again; the sun, sliced into threes and tumbling on his head. A robin chirped. As he clambered past, it bowed its head. Here, he was king. No longer could he hear Jake. He was bleeding – a deep, warm stain of red on his knee – but he cared no longer. With the silence, and the slumber, and the sage twist of the tree’s branches, solace was woven into the air with gossamer thread. Nothing anyone could do would sever it.
He smiled like he had sugar in his mouth. As he pushed through a curtain of fir, the leaves parted, easy as cotton candy. Wisps of dust simmered: shimmering water was cupped in the palms of leaves.
He was king.
It was midday.
No, it was evening. He’d lost track of time. Above, a puzzle piece of sky: bruised, navy, bleeding, red. The shadows whorled and whirled, and he played and splayed his fingers far apart to gain purchase on a tree trunk. Summer’s heat dissipated into a murky, disgruntled humidity.
Climbing up this high, he couldn’t see the depths of his kingdom. His view snagged on fractured bones of branches, fell down into the wells of shadow pooling at his feet. A bunch of amaranthine berries hung, swung above his head.
The wind found its voice and began to speak. Low, so low, a tremoring octave drummed into his ears. It whistled and howled and sang. It screamed. It screamed with glee as a bullet – no, a gust of leaves – hurtled down an alley of trees. A scaled beast hauled itself into existence, growling and snorting. Pressing himself into the branches, he covered his ears and begged it to stop. This wasn’t his. Where was his sunlight, his silence? Where were the jewels of scent? The water that glittered?
Of course, the wind persisted. Of course, he didn’t cry out. The dragon curled into the shadow, hot, tired breath bellowing out of the cathedral of its chest. The wind broke twigs, stomped footprints into the quaking dirt. And, as evening cut a fine line across the sky, he felt something grab his wrist.
‘A well full of nonsense’ by Rosie May
Once upon a time at the bottom of a Well, was the most terrible, grubbiest smell. A smell like foxes, old boxes and pegs, a smell like the most disgusting, reeking old legs, a smell like over-cooked, under-baked eggs.
At the bottom of the well, I am sorry to say, was a dear old friend of mine. He mumbled and groaned, and with a little weak moan, Said: “How many times have I been down here? Nine!”
At the roof of the well, stood a little girl, no older than three. She stood there and exclaimed, with a face full of glee: “Scrambled eggs for tea? Yippee!”
Then she ran down the road, to get help with her load, and I’m sorry to say, on that dreadful day, she ran and fell into the sea!
A few hours later, (but it seemed a lot greater), something very peculiar happened. At the mouth of the well, he heard the tinkle of a bell, and a voice cried: “Do not be saddened!”
“Hello!” Then Humpty got impatient and snapped: “Are you going to help me out or what?”
The funny face said: “Yes, on one favour, for me to be your saviour, you must do what I say, for a whole day, and be on your best behaviour!”
Dumpty agreed, underestimating the sprite’s cunningness and greed, and the face helped him out, then Humpty said with a shout, “Hooray! Look at me! I’m freed!”
Then the little Elf did explain, that his method always worked (he swore): “If the girl is to come again, you would be ready then, you would be prepared and sure.” The plan was, the Sprite conferred, was to superglue Dumpty’s bum to the wall, and Humpty cried: “How absurd!”
The Elf shrugged his shoulders and said in a drawl: “Do you really want that girl to push you off the wall?” Dumpty exclaimed, “Not at all!” “Exactly,” laughed the Sprite. “Now do as you are told!”
Humpty sighed and signalled to his seat, feeling a feeling of self-defeat, as the Elf spread glue all over his bottom, and wondered what on earth could have brought him, to such a state as this. The Sprite then said: “Now sit in your usual place, or I’ll smear this glue all over your face. Now to make sure we’ve taken extra care, we’ll squirt this in your underwear!”
Dumpty sat as still as a statue, holding his breath as he thought longingly of stew, whilst the Elf pored sticky stuff all over his pants, the little creature jumping around as if in his he had ants. “Now,” said the Sprite. “Sit as still as you can while this dries.” He did, and poor Humpty took mockery from flies, comments from passers-by, and tried to ignore the staring eyes, as he sat with his bum on the wall. Now I am happy to say, that the Elf fell down the Well, and the girl did not come back.
Well, not as far as I can tell.
‘Compass’ by Sarah Durban
A pale streak of moonlight seeped into a makeshift shack, illuminating the tiny specks of dust drifting just under the low ceiling. One figure was splayed, motionless apart from the tiny rise and fall of her chest, on the ground, her grimy fingertips brushing the rippling surface of a shallow pond, hardly worthy of being called so. A second, more restless shadow dabbed the water tiresomely as she lay there, her eyes glazed over in thought.
We can’t go on like this, stealing, running, hiding. Said a little voice in her head. There must be something else for us, something better. The thought rang in her head. Something better something better something better. But however much she denied it, she knew there was no other way. They had to carry on stealing, running, hiding. There was no something better.
She moved stealthily, weaving through the crowd pressing around her, shoving each other out of the way in their haste to reach the buffet stands first. This was a well-trodden path of Clarisse’s. Slipping unnoticed through tight crowds in her quests to find food for her and April.
Perfect. A fresh-bread stand. She smelled it before the bright red-and-white wind shelter was visible between the towering mass of barging bodies. Clarisse snuck around the side until the refill basket was just a few paces from where she stood. The anticipation of theft no longer haunted her, for it had been worn out in the many years of her doing so to survive. She crept further still. Here the crowd was less pressing, and it was easier to judge how close she would have to get before she could snatch a warm roll of bread from the basket. Two paces. Yes, that was right. After taking a second to compose herself, she wandered casually closer, closer, until the woven basket was within her reach. She turned herself around to look around the square as normally as she could force herself to look and started fumbling her fingers around in search of warmth. And they found it.
Clarisse’s hands traced a smooth, greasy surface pulsing with warmth.
Smooth? Pulsing? She froze, bemused.
“Are you… planning on letting go?” the smooth object was twisted from her trembling hand and a firm hand was placed on her shoulder and forced her to turn to look at her captor.
“I know what you were trying to do, girl. I know what you are. I know what happens to people like you.” A man with charcoal hair and tan skin stood calmly before her.
“I…” Clarisse’s throat tightened and let no words pass through, leaving her croaking helplessly.
“I also know what I’m going to do with you. And I won’t snitch, don’t worry.” A warm smile formed on his face, and Clarisse had a strange sense of security.
‘Phoenix Lights’ by Nicola Mathew
Thoughtfully staring at them, we concluded that there were no immediate concerns about our appearance. The pitiful beings simply gaped, their eyes enlarged as their feeble minds struggled to comprehend the sight swimming above them.
Typical of humanity.
Their inflated egos, larger than life, foolishly led them to believe they were the only dominant beings within this universe; they had the pure audacity to even believe that it is impossible for them to not exist.
What their limited minds are unable to understand is that life discriminates; its one, true desire is to merely beguile and pilfer. Life and death are two sides of the same coin. Both are larcenists; death steals their very essence yet life is the genuine torturer. It is prolonged and vindictive, draining one’s own core until all that is remaining are meagre ashes. Why would they want to continue, when they are only prolonging the torture?
Earth was not always the hellish place that it is now. This entire predicament occurred, solely because of humanity’s idiocy and foolishness. Life was once a beautiful, treasured entity, but humanity defiled it into a corrupted, cunning creature. Earth’s history is riddled and polluted with death, murder and betrayal, due to their selfish ways.
They are unable to cope with other living beings that cannot comply with their terms and conditions. Annihilating forests for large resorts and material products; murdering animals to satisfy their stomachs. These creatures believe that the right has been placed upon them to decide who lives and dies. As if they can act as judge, jury and executioner.
My gaze hovers above the blurred horizon; the orbs’ light casting an eerie glow across the city as the pollution and toxins hang in the air. The news cameras flash as they gaze at the luminescent triangle levitating along their sky. It does not matter; we won’t be here for much longer.
My thoughts are snapped like a brittle twig, as the silence descends upon the courtroom. The people rise, the defence and prosecution alike. The soundless noise stretches for almost eternity.
Until the prosecutor stands and clears his throat, abashedly.
“How do you find the case of the homo sapiens, otherwise known as humanity, my Lord?” he inquires.
I scrutinize each and every one of their faces. Searching for any other possible answer.
The Young Norfolk Writing Competition is a partnership between the National Centre for Writing, Norfolk County Council and Young Norfolk Arts Festival.