140 young writers, parents and teachers attended the fourth All Write! presentation event at MMU. Young writers were presented with copies of the latest All Write anthology by published writers Anjum Malik, Melvin Burgess and Sherry Ashworth. All the writers were, as ever, impressed by the standard of writing. Sherry Ashworth said “People ask what teenagers write about and I look through this anthology and say, everything! The range of subject matter and writing styles represented is so vast and varied it shows that teenagers can write, and write well, about a whole host of things.
Anjum Malik, who was involved in the competition this year for the first time was similarly impressed by the poetry included. Melvin Burgess, who has supported the All Write! competition since the first year it ran was delighted to present anthologies to the young writers and encouraged them to consider a career in writing as a possibility – especially after reading some of the work in the anthology.
This year again we were kindly sponsored by Samsung, who donated two mp3 players and two digital cameras as prizes for our best poet and best prose writer in both categories.
It wasn’t easy to select the winners, but in the end Melvin and Sherry decided on the prose pieces and Anjum selected her favourite poems. Our Y9 – Y11 Samsung poetry and prose winners were Maharishi pupil Raegan Wignall for her poem ‘Chocolate’, and Eaton Bank pupil Jamie Turnock who deserves a special mention for reading her short story ‘The Sun’s Got an E in Science’ beautifully. Our Year 12/13 winners were Loreto student Alice Withers whose piece ‘A Snapshot of my Life’ was read very movingly by MMU acting student Daisy Marsden and Xaverian student Sean Gibson for his poem, ‘Red Sea’.
Sean Gibson’s selection by Anjum as best over-16 poet was particularly appropriate as he is the only person who has been published in all four All Write anthologies. As a fourteen-year old pupil at Barlow Catholic High school Sean entered the first year with an outstanding war poem. His second entry, a poem narrated from the psychiatrists couch was included in the 2006 anthology. Sean read this at the 2006 Celebration Event after attending a Performing Literature workshop with other competition winners. We thought we’d lost him when he left Barlow but he appeared again amongst the Xaverian entries a year later with yet another outstanding piece of writing which was included in the 2007 anthology. Over the four years since the first competition Sean has attended a number of events, as a Barlow pupil and now as a student at Xaverian. Organiser Kaye Tew said “I had realized that Sean was the only student who had been in all four anthologies so I was delighted when Anjum selected his poem for the Samsung prize. He’s becoming something of a fixture, but next year is his last chance to enter the competition as he’ll leave college next year. Maybe we’ll see him in future editions of MUSE? Sean’s not studying English any more but he’s definitely got talent so I hope we’ll see his writing somewhere in the future.” Anjum was very impressed with the poem he submitted this year but when she saw his other work from previous years she was stunned at the range and maturity of his writing.
A great afternoon was had by all but the last word went to Santa – it must be said a rather disenchanted Santa, who arrived waving a half empty bottle of ‘No Thrills Mulled Wine’ and proceeded to read (or was that rant?) a monologue written by Sandbach pupil Ami Jones.
A merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
All young people who attended the event were presented with a copy of the anthology and letters of congratulations went out to all participating schools. Copies of the All Write anthology can be purchased via the ACWE website and are on sale at Borders Bookshop Cheetham Hill Fort.