The sixth edition of The Anthology, launched earlier this week, is a unique collection of short stories, poetry and art-work by the talented pupils of King Edward’s Senior School.

As a testimony to how highly writing and the visual arts are valued at the school, this year’s guest judge, celebrated children’s author Anna Wilson was bowled over – as all the judges have been – by the quality of work by such young writers and artists, commenting, “The images are alive, the language sings and wonderful ideas bounce off every page.”

The poetry featured in The Anthology arose from the school’s Poetry Competition. Responding to the competition’s theme of ‘My Family and Other Animals,’ KES poets produced innovative and original verse.

In the Junior Category, Anna Wilson admired Rafee Jabarin’s The Hydra for the “strong use of colour and alliteration”; Claudia Williams for To be Hunted, which Anna commended for “lovely language and evocative imagery”; Alice Hudson for King of the Skies with its “wonderful evocation of action and lovely personification” and Annika Moorhouse for her unnamed poem on the cruelty of battery farming which Anna described as “doleful but very well-imagined”. The winner in this category was Orson Savage for Ode to a Heron, described as “beautiful and so evocative”.

In the Senior Category, Philip Christopherson was praised for his use of highly interesting words in My Family and Other Animals, and Jago Henderson’s Watch was described as “very original, just lovely”. Overall Winner was Ella Fairhurst, whom Anna commended on her “powerful imagery, highly original use of personification and great punchline”. Ella’s poem, ‘Brambles’, can be read in full below.

Brambles

Nestled in the heart of her mother’s clutches,

Barbed-wire embrace that both nurtured

And tore apart her blossoms,

In a vain attempt to protect her

from life’s only inevitability.

Every day, it came for her,

Singing, hackles raised, baring its canine jaw,

The crack and pop of arthritic joints and

claws on concrete which haunted her so,

Resonating to the fullest in her incapable mind.

The sun reflected Itself in her

hunter’s glossy, inked pelt,

As it did her own coat,

However, its hours of glistening seemed

to grow shorter and so she knew

Her youthful innocence was fleeting.

In the days her hunter stayed away – though

her distant shrieks could be heard clearly

as though she was only paces away –

She ripened.

Her onyx shell flickered in the sun’s few hours,

And she knew it was only a matter of time.

One morning, she awoke to hot breath

And a thick, warm slobber engulfed her

before her poor mother had time to contort

herself into a protective stance,

And just like that,

The dog had eaten her.

The short stories selected for this year’s Anthology were drawn from the annual Short Story Competition. This year’s theme of ‘Light and Dark’ proved a rich vein of inspiration for our young writers. Year 7 and 8 embraced their dark sides with glorious tales of shadow monsters, children swallowed by darkness, black holes and Big Bangs! Lucy Smith’s Double, Double – I’m in Trouble was praised for its “strong theme and dramatic twist”, whilst the Lower School winner, Elise Withey, conveyed an African setting so strongly that the reader sees, smells and hears everything as the narrator does.

In Middle School, KES authors wrote with a subtlety incorporating both light and shade, with stories about grief and depression, human rights and our capacity for humanity. Chris Donovan’s Killing the Clock, played with time shifts and differing perspectives and points of view. Overall Middle School winner, Ben Blackwell, was praised for his mature and highly topical piece.

Sixth Form entries displayed an extraordinary capacity for hope along with beautiful lightness of touch. Often addressing the darkest of topics, they also saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Greg Taylor’s postmodern tale The Starman has echoes of Ziggy Stardust and was commended for its superb pace and strong writer’s voice. The winner of the Sixth Form Category and Overall Winner, Thomas Harcourt “knocked the socks of me and had me in tears at the end,” said Anna Wilson, adding, “This is a writer to look out for. Truly a stunning piece.”

Commenting on all the short stories contained in the Anthology, Anna Wilson said, “KES is bursting at the seams with articulate, imaginative and lyrical young writers who know how to make a character leap off the page and how to lead you down paths into worlds you didn’t know existed (whilst playing with your emotions along the way!)”

Reviewing the artwork by KES artists which illustrates this year’s Anthology, Mr Pell from the Art & Photography department, noted, “The word ‘tone’ in an artistic context refers to the light and dark values used to render a realistic object, or to create an abstract composition. Writers and poets also create tone in their work, through the use of various literary elements and so it was particularly interesting and exciting when ‘Light and Dark’ were chosen as key themes for this year’s KES Anthology and I was asked to source artworks to accompany the written pieces.’

Copies of The Anthology, priced at £5, are available to purchase from the School or from Topping & Co Booksellers in Bath.