Junior Writing Competition

By Various | Posted: Thursday December 1, 2016

Some very talented students submitted great works in the Junior Writing Competition this year. Below are the winning entries.

Winning Poem

Lottery Beach - By Adair Clark

Lottery beach has no rattling balls

Impossible odds

Empty-eyed grinning decanters of dread

Yet lottery beach may be deadly still

Keep track of your feet for you may lose your head

Foaming, reaching toward you

To coldly embrace you in wild

But each cat-footed step is a gamble

To land upon sand, shelly treasures most grand

Or perhaps upon rotting sea otter

Fed gaily upon by six large king crabs

On piles of clean kelp

But

Piles become tangle

Tangle joins riptide

Yes lottery beach suffers nothing so simple

as empty-eyed con masters grinning with guilt

The master at lottery beach

Is the force that makes rose flowers wilt


Winning Prose

The Canyons - By Lucy Spittle

Damien 

We run, feet pounding through a silver layer of fog and into the hard packed clay. Quill lags behind us, her circuit boards are acting up again. The weather is perfect. Adam walks in front of me, a warm glow fills my chest at the sight of his long dark hair, his smile, his lean, athletic build- What? I snap back to reality, nothing about this day is perfect, and it never will be, especially with me around. What am I thinking? my subconscious mutters, and yet again I find myself analysing him. His bright eyes, straight teeth, how he holds himself like he could take on the world.

That laugh of his which sounds lighter and happier that I've felt in a lifetime. Stop it... “Adam,” I laugh, arranging my voice to sound calm and lighthearted, “where are we going anyway?” I haven't strayed this far from the castle in years. “You'll see” He grins maniacally, effortlessly darting ahead of me. Ridiculous, he's completely and utterly ridiculous. I draw a hand across my damp forehead and sprint after him.

The torn remnants of my lab coat are almost bird like in their frantic movement, carried by a light breeze that goes on to tussle Adam’s hair. I drink in the sound and feel of it brushing against the side of my neck. Adam tenses. “You can look now,” he says, bringing his hands away from my eyes and taking several steps back. Back to the two-meter gap between us, I guess.

“Sure thing,” I mutter, eyes still shut, trying to mask the anxiety and disappointment in my voice. I snap my eyes open and almost faint, the ground drops off into nothingness mere steps in front of us. “What?” I wheeze, “Adam what the Hell are we doing here?!” I stumble back, clutching my chest, the wind is stronger now, whipping up leaves from the ground and tossing them over the edge. “Not a fan of heights, are we?” Adam smirks, I shoot him a halfhearted glare. As the initial shock fades away I bring myself to my feet and stare over the edge. I think I see a blundering shape through the ascending tendrils of fog, carried by the rushing current. I lean closer, trying to pinpoint the fluidic movement, my entire torso now suspended in space. For a moment, everything is still, until the world descends into white light. Scalding air erupts from the canyon below. I feel myself cry out rather than hear it, but Adam’s arms are already around my waist, propelling me backwards and sending us into a tangled mat of limbs on the ground behind us. My face buried in his chest, clutching a wad of his shirt in my fist. “Holy crap. Thank you. Thank you so much. Damn.” I senselessly rasp, my throat still burning.“Damien.” Adam murmurs, I wait for him to say more. He doesn't, just tightens his grasp around me, hands sprawled across my back as he waits for me to catch my breath. Quill bounds over, oblivious to the current situation, she simply stretches a wing and blinks at us. “What… was that?” I ask, bringing my eyes to meet his. “That, my friend, was a dragon.”

Adam

“That, my friend, was a dragon.” I relish the look of wonder on Damien’s face as the words leave my mouth. “And we,” I pause, extending my good arm to him; “Are going to ride one.” He simply nods and lets me pull him to his feet, his deep blue eyes never pulling away from my shallow green ones. Another ghost of a wave crashes over us, the hot vapor instantaneously cools against our skin, sending rivulets of water down our locked forearms. I instinctively fan a wing of my jacket out, scooping up our smaller companion, it'll be a while before she can really fly on her own. Out of the corner of my eye I see Damien pluck a flower from a patch of purple grass and carefully place it in his coat. A screech from the canyon below signals our chance, I laugh and drag Damien along with me, and before he has time to react I send us tumbling over the edge.

Those few moments we spend freefalling are not enough, I yearn for more. Feeling time slow as my hair is flung upward, seeing Damien’s labcoat pull away from his back as we plummet downward. The feeling of air scraping at the base of my neck, these are the moments I crave. Suddenly time catches up, all the air is forced from our lungs as our backs hit a warm but unforgiving surface. With reflexes so acute it's almost unsettling, Damien reaches across my waist, stabilizing us both. He leans into me and opens his mouth to say something before the platform we're on shoots upwards.

We barely have time to clutch the blue scaly surface before we break through the clouds, a vast landscape of rolling violet hills and deep silver-gray canyons fills our vision. The crisscrossing trenches divide the land near into near perfect hexagons, each one with a colossal turquoise oak sending roots sprawling outwards. “First one to find your lab wins!” I exclaim with joy, the rush from flying turning me childlike. “It's a castle” Damien scowls at me, “I’d appreciate you calling it that, even when we’re alone. I can’t have you accidentally blurting out to someone that I'm practicing science within the province’s borders.” I choose to ignore him, the beating wings that envelope us on either side is reminiscent of a heartbeat, I lean into his chest try to imagine him as the source of the sound. Strong and full of life. I tilt my head to the side and meet my cracked lips with his. He holds my face in his hands, drawing out the kiss. We are going to be okay. I repeat the message to myself as he pulls away, “We're going to be okay.”


Winning Essay

No Ordinary Sun - By Casper Mcguire

Hone Tuwhare’s ‘No Ordinary Sun’ describes the event of a nuclear apocalypse and the devastation that it would cause. Hone Tuwhare was openly against nuclear power and nuclear weapons even more so. This poem shows his stance on the development of hydrogen and atomic bombs and why they are such monstrous weapons. These messages are shown through symbols used in the poem, most notably the sun mentioned in the title representing (and contrasting with) nuclear weapons and the tree representing nature and life as a whole. It is these symbols that make the poem such a powerful message because they show the primordial power of nature and how that power can be diminished and destroyed so easily by reckless human progress.

By far the biggest symbol in ‘No Ordinary Sun’ was the Sun representing an atomic or hydrogen bomb. This is shown at first glance in the first and forth stanzas where the explosion is described as a “bright enhaloed cloud” and later as “No Ordinary Sun”. This is a three way comparison, the extraordinary sun that is mentioned is compared to a nuclear weapon, which is compared to the real sun. There are obviously large differences between those last two things and showing these differences is the main purpose of the poem and Hone Tuwhare’s intention. This is because many people attempt to make nuclear weapons seem less dangerous by comparing them mushrooms and the rising sun. ‘No Ordinary Sun’ critiques this comparison with the metaphor by similarly comparing the atomic blast to the sun but also showing the devastation it causes to all parts of nature. This message shows people the harsh reality of what humanity is creating that can do so much damage to the natural world.

Another important symbol compares the tree in the poem to nature, its purpose is to explain firstly how damaging atomic and hydrogen bombs are and secondly how helpless humans are to stop them. The destruction caused by nuclear weapons is illustrated in the second, fourth and fifth stanzas. In the second stanza: “Your sap shall not rise again to the moons pull” sap is a metaphor for life and how radiation leaves the land barren and uninhabitable. The fourth stanza says: “The fading green of your magic emanations shall not make pure again these polluted skies”, this refers to how plants produce oxygen and how we as humans are depended on them to survive”. “O tree in the shadowless mountains the white plains and the drab sea floor your end at last is written”, the last stanza shows the bleak prospect of living in a nuclear apocalypse. “White plains” and a “drab sea floor” talk of a barren wasteland that the tree, representing nature and therefore the human race would not survive in.

Hone Tuwhare’s ‘No Ordinary Sun’ describes a real issue for humanity that, in the poet’s opinion needs not only to be addressed, but also to be seen as a real threat and not an extension of natural human progress. “Your end at last is written” in the final stanza is a bleak prospect for the reader. Hone Tuwhare thought that a large part of the problem was that nuclear weapons were being compared to natural things, especially the sun so he used that as a symbol to show that they were destructive and out of control. In the first stanza; “Let your arms lack toughness and resilience for this is no mere axe to blunt nor fire to smother” means that nature’s protection is useless against nuclear weapons and instead humanity needs to control the destruction themselves and show restraint in their military development.