Winning Writers

By Various | Posted: Wednesday January 1, 2014

Writing continues to be in good heart at Logan Park. Our annual senior writing competition attracted many talented pieces.

The results of our 2014 competition are as follows:


1st – Frances Barnett: Two 
2nd – Imogen Salvage: Serious Talk 
3rd – Hana Ott: Four Shades of Happiness 
Highly Commended Alicia Buckingham: The Joke 


1st – Ava Straw: In the Heart of Tennyson’s Café 
2nd – Emily Newton: The Fire Burns 
3rd – Maxwell Arnott: Silent Friends 
Highly Commended – Ella Yiannett: Vanities’ Saviour 


1st – Samantha Addington: Medea by Euripidies 
2nd – Isla Benham: Presentations of Women in Literature 
3rd – Oscar La Dell: Conformity 
Highly Commended – Luke Major: V for Vendetta  

The winning pieces from each section are published below:


By Frances Barnett

sweaty hands clasp together
their fingers interlocked like that of a zip
brown white
brown white
sweat runs down their palms and
onto their wrists

they stare out over the green
watching the seagulls pick worms from the ground
he remembers playing in the dirt alone
like them
she remembers her father swinging her around
scaring the seagulls away

holding each other’s hand
she leads him up the road
and fumbling with the key
she unlocks the door
he stalls at the doorway
he says it’s not as nice as his
she is embarrassed and looks at her feet 

back at the park
they lean in and
have their first experimental kiss
noses pressing together -
a hongi
up close they can see every freckle
and blemish on the other's skin

they say their goodbyes
and unclasp their hands
he walks off to his home while
she stares at his silhouette
everyone looks the same with the sun shining on them
she wipes her sweaty palm carefully on the clean fabric of her dress
and turns
walking up the hill to her house

In the Heart of Tennyson’s Café

By Ava Straw

It’s bright outside. Luminous strands of sunny golden hair stroke my cold face. It could be a regular Wednesday morning. But it’s not. Most definitely negatively not a normal day. At least, it looks bright. It’s possible that it’s so dark outside it has gone clear. But… wait. Dark can’t be light, can it? That’s insane. Then again, it is equally insane being sprawled like a dead octopus on the floor of a practically empty café with a 42’’ bullet embedding somewhere in the depths of my chest. All I had done was enter a coffee shop and order a strong, comforting coffee. What could have possibly gone wrong?

Birds are still singing heartily, though. Outside, on the tree branches. Those branches that are reaching out at me like grasping hands, those branches’ beautiful fanned out peacock leaves, those branches waving in the subtle and ‘adagio’ breeze and conducting the dis-harmonic orchestra of birds, those, those branches

The slowly gentle pounding of my heart, which seems to have floated unwarily up to my brain, beats out the steady rhythm of an African drum. The volatile orchestra isn’t keeping in time, though. They just keep chirping and whistling away with the wind, not a care, not a problem in the world. The winged musicians are ignoring my thumping drum. So is the neighbouring diner, stirring sugar into his tea, pouring milk in an off-handed manner. Stirring.

He doesn’t seem to notice a thirty-two year old clutching a stickily smooth, empty mug of coffee, tipped over onto the cracked, checked tiles, mingling with the slowly widening stain of blood. Blood. I have never seen so much in such close proximity. Surely it cannot all come from me? The cascade of red liquid is rising to my face, drenching my clothes and the poor floor that will need to be mopped up by some poor sod. My neighbour is spilling his milk, dripping it off the table. No one seems to find the willpower to clean. Not even the poor sod. Such inattentive hospitality.

There’s a far off glass door, on the edge of the outside world. The door is shut. No waiter thinks of opening it for their clients. It’s almost like they don’t want people enjoying their services. The people outside, in the world of the living. I used to belong and thrive on the other side of the café door. But here I am, opposite life, on the floor of a solitary coffee shop on Mary-Abe Avenue , lying directly under a man who pays no attention whatsoever to my existence, on a brilliantly lit spring day, tasting the mixture of salted tears, black harsh coffee and soft yet crispy blood with distaste.

I’ll be OK. I can get through this. I’ll be able to think about this one day and laugh over it, this strange happening that involved a lot of confusion and blood. I can laugh about it with Mark after it’s all over, sit in front of his pellet fire, smouldering our tepid feet, and laugh about it. What did that movie say? It seems so long ago, I can’t quite remember… “Tis but a scratch.” That was one hell of a funny movie. Hilarious. I want to watch it again, with a purring flame and volume on Mark’s TV booming like my father on a rant. Soon. But not yet. Not now.

For the time being, I shall have to live with the cool touch of frozen porcelain on my trembling and chapped lips. The coffee’s sharp smell glides unobtrusively up my nostrils, down my trachea, into my body, burning me from the inside without mercy. I’m not ready. I can’t even turn away from the disgusting odour. The blood is acting like glue, and the fact that I have that 42’’ bullet in my chest isn’t helping mechanical movement either. I see three pairs of shoes, rickety splat-flat on the floor, each at different unstable tables. So there are three people in here, and not one of them had noticed a severely injured person on the floor. Hypocrites. Another movie whose title I, again, don’t recall jumps to the front of my head and knocks on my forehead. “My momma always said you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes, where they go, where they've been.”

But these shoes are all bland and indistinctive. No personality at all. No wonder their owners don’t see me on the floor, too wrapped up in thinking how to fix their boring shoe fashion. At least a nice pair of brown and comfortable synthetic… But no. Just three pairs of black leather lace-ups. The birds have stopped singing. Or has it gone so dark that they’ve gone to nest by now? Seeing as I’ve nothing else to do until these so-called gentlemen help me up, I pay closer attention to their shoes. Not even one feature to notice… Yes. There is one. The man beside me has a worn sole. Just one. One sole… one more soul… gone…


Three people walked casually with nonchalance out of Tennyson’s Café that day. A small and weedy man slammed the door shut behind them, clutching a fistful of notes with a sweaty hand. Bank notes. Nothing more to see. One of the three late customers had a worn sole under his left black leather Sketches.

Medea by Euripides

By Samantha Addington

The play Medea by the Athenian playwright Euripides is a tale of a powerful woman seeking justice on her ex-husband, Jason. The well-known quote 'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned' [1] sums up the play nicely. This play’s influence is prominent throughout different time periods such as Ancient Greece, the Shakespearian era and even modern times. What is interesting is how the themes of this play remain the same over time. These themes are: revenge, feminism, desire and the nature of evil. However the ideas around these themes shift with the times as does the character of Medea. So what is it that keeps this story alive over thousands of years? What makes it so compelling?

Ancient Greece (5th Century)

Unfortunately the first audience to be introduced to this work of literature was mostly unimpressed. This was, of course, the Athenian public who were not accustomed to such horrifying violence towards children in Greek theatre. They were also unfamiliar with the theme of feminism. Professor D.L. Page who has reworked a modern version of Medea comments on this audience’s reaction: 'Foreshadowed too, already in Medea is that great burden of unpopularity which was to oppress the poet throughout his life.' [2]

Euripides has introduced the character Medea as a symbol of feminism. The chorus made up of Corinthian women back up this statement with their line: 'Dignity is coming to the race of women.' [4] This idea goes against the Athenian culture and so this theme made them very uncomfortable. In these times women were looked after by their father who would eventually choose a husband for them. In addition to this they also had a kyrios (guardian) who had control of their money and property. The women were not allowed to buy and sell anything that held much value without the permission of their kyrios. They were well looked after but didn't have many rights. This was the cultural norm and so it is understandable how shocked the Athenians were at the independence shown by Medea. 'Her violent reactions becomes a form of radical political resistance' [5] Euripides introduced the theme of feminism to the world and his audience was displeased.

In 431 BCE Euripides entered his tragic play, Medea, for the competition held at the festival of Dionysus. The plays written by Euphorion and Sophocles, however, were preferred by the audience. The act of Medea killing her children was not actually in the original myth. This made the audience very angry. Medea is a powerful and cunning character who is intelligent enough to outsmart a man. Jason is not just an ordinary man though, he is incredibly sexist: 'There should be no female sex, with that, men would be rid of all their troubles.' [3] Medea despises his attitude towards her and rebels against him by murdering their children and Glauce, Jason's new bride. Medea also has betrayed her father and killed her brother. The repetitive pattern here is her clear dominance of the male gender. A woman in this time period being portrayed as equal to a male is unheard of. Therefore, when one stands up to her cheating husband, it is as if Medea is swiping at all Athenian men. It is made clear she is not a possession. She shows her independence by following through her own successful plans.

A new concept of Greek theatre that Euripides introduced was an indecisive chorus. The Corinthian women that made up this chorus changed their mind often about Medea's actions. This is a technique that greatly angered the audience. Near the beginning of the play, the chorus agree with Medea. They say to Jason: 'You're in the wrong abandoning your wife.' [3] However, when Medea is considering murdering their children, they beg her to reconsider. Much like the Athenian audience, this act would be taking justice too far. Despite their pleas, they still allow this evil act to occur. They remain silent and do not warn Jason or the children's guardian of the horror that is about to happen. It is not as if the Athenian audience were unaccustomed to violence but filicide was too intense.

Euripides also clearly had a rather cynical view of marriage. As stated before, women's husbands were chosen for them. Medea, however, was not from Athens so she was able to marry Jason. Medea's nurse states in the beginning of the play that Medea and Jason used to be in love: '...Now they're enemies, their fine love's grown sick, diseased...' [3] Jason left Medea to marry Princess Glauce, with the approval of Glauce's father. It seems in Euripides view, whether marriage comes from love or approval, it doesn't work. It is as if marriage always has an ulterior motive: 'His passion is to marry royalty' [3] states Medea. When Jason and Medea left Medea's home in Colchis to go to Corinth, her royalty was unrecognised. This meant Jason no longer desired Medea. The Athenians reacted to Euripides' view of marriage like they did to his theme of feminism. They were comfortable with their own concept of marriage and didn't want it to be questioned.

Interestingly enough, the gods did not play much part in this play. In the few times they were mentioned, all they did was cause destruction. The sun-god, Helios (Medea's grandfather), did not stop her murderous actions and even helped her escape Jason's clutches. ''Everywhere Aphrodite's hand is seen, destruction swiftly follows. Whether the love be romantic, paternal, or maternal, it always leads to death and despair.' [6] The text also implies that Zeus favours Medea and aids her plan for justice. Euripides is portraying the idea that the gods don't make our choices - we do. This is vastly different than works of Sophocles such as in Oedipus the King. Sophocles believed that everyone's destiny is predetermined by the gods. This is what most Greeks thought and so they did not agree with Euripides. The fact that the gods assisted her in these murderous deeds did not find favour with the Athenian audience. After all, what does that say about their gods?

As much as the Athenians disliked the play, it still had enough influence to be known by future generations. It is perhaps the atrocity of the crimes committed that kept the Greeks talking about the compelling tale. The play has aspects of horror that repulses but is also fascinating and thought provoking. Does she struggle with killing her children? She does, absolutely. Medea has many monologues about her internal conflict. She feels she has no other choice. Medea is a troubled victim, not a cold blooded psychopath as Jason sees her. Jason believes Medea is exacting sadistic revenge on him. It is important to understand that Medea feels she is simply getting justice. The Athenians' depiction of Medea is not met with sympathy as intended by Euripides. They instead appear to side with Jason. The character of Medea and everything she stands for is too foreign. Prior to this play there had barely been any heroines (or anti-heroines) in Greek theatre. Perhaps they would have been able to pity her had she not committed the act of filicide. Although everyone can relate to the hurt of betrayal, Medea's reaction is extreme. The play is a tragedy, with cynical views on the gods, love and marriage. It is easy to understand why the Athenians found it so offensive. The play was very different from anything they had ever seen which must have made the tale resonate in their minds.

Shakespearian Era (16th - 17th Century)

About 2,000 years later the influence of Medea is still strong. The plays by Shakespeare that have connections to Medea are: The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet and Macbeth. The Merchant of Venice has the theme of desire. Hamlet has the theme of revenge. Macbeth has themes of desire and feminism. Out of these three plays Macbeth is the influenced the most by Medea.

It is known that Shakespeare had read Seneca's version of Medea because in the play King John he compares one of Medea's monologues with one of Constance's about their anger. Whether it is consciously or subconsciously he has moulded the character Lady Macbeth from the character of Euripides' Medea.

Macbeth, like Medea, is a tragedy. The two plays share many similarities. They both have the element of the supernatural. Macbeth converses with three witches and Medea is a witch herself. The basic plot is similar. The main characters will do anything to achieve their power over others. Macbeth desires to become King and Medea desires to commit her murderous acts without being laughed at, which was one of her main fears. The concept of killing children is also included, with Macbeth ordering both Banquo's and Macduff's sons to be put to death. The witches also 'cast the finger of a birth strangled baby into their cauldron at the outset of the play.' [7] The concept of killing children would still have shocked this audience but it isn't a new concept. The Shakespearian audience would not have blamed Macbeth for the deaths of the children. They would have held the view that the evil witches controlled his actions. The theme of evil running through Macbeth is much stronger than it is in Medea. This is why the audience is able to sympathise with Macbeth. He is influenced by the evil of the witches and his wife. When affronted with Lady Macbeth's motives, it is easier to sympathise with Medea. Lady Macbeth is acting out of pure wickedness whereas Medea is acting out of justice.

The role of feminism is darker in Macbeth than in Medea. Macbeth is not about standing up to men for justice - it is about pure manipulation. This is a negative portrayal of a lady in power. However, she is still a symbol of feminism. She shows, like Medea, that women can be clever, cunning and powerful. Her motives for her actions are vastly different. Medea is deeply hurt, she is a woman scorned and her motives come from her heart. Lady Macbeth's desires are for power. She claims that she just wants the best for her husband. This is untrue. Lady Macbeth is a selfish and twisted character. By moulding Lady Macbeth from Medea, Shakespeare shows the power of women in a society that does not allow them to have power. This notion is compelling and keeps the tale alive. In Elizabethan/Jacobean society, women did not have much control. 'Men were (completely) in control. Women were considered objects of beauty. They were not considered intellects with their own credible opinions.' [8] However, this would all change for Lady Macbeth if she became queen...

Lady Macbeth has a very strong conscience. Our sympathy for Medea stems from Jason's betrayal. She is not evil and certainly struggles with the issues of whether or not to kill her children. Lady Macbeth's conscience is not shown until after she is unable to kill Duncan. She instead convinces her husband to kill him and then becomes hysterical with paranoia. She sees 'blood' on her hands she is unable to wash off. So sympathy is shown for these two characters in different ways. The original Medea is the more tragic of the two because Lady Macbeth has a naturally evil nature. Medea is put into a situation where she feels she has no other choice. The real tragic figure in Macbeth is Macbeth himself because he is so influenced by the evil of others, especially his wife.

Lady Macbeth and Medea share similar traits. They are both powerful, persuasive and driven mad by desire. They also show they can be calm in the midst of awful circumstances. Both women are very calm after acts of murder. They are also both obsessed with status. Lady Macbeth desires to become royalty and Medea is determined to be feared by others in Corinth. They are both masters of manipulation. The Greek definition of Medea means cunning. Shakespeare has moulded the character of Lady Macbeth to be more authoritative than that of Medea. Lady Macbeth is lurking in the background, calling the shots for her husband. Medea only has power over her own actions. Even though Lady Macbeth commits suicide, Medea is still the more tragic figure. Her murders were out of grief and justice whereas Lady Macbeth's were out of greed. They were cold blooded decisions. Both characters are selfish but in Medea it is still difficult to say who is ultimately at fault, her or Jason? When Jason finds out Medea has killed their children he says: 'O my children, you had such an evil mother' [3] to which Medea replies: 'O my children, victims of your father's evil actions...the gods are aware of who began this fight.' [3]

The theme of desire is partially what has kept the story of Medea alive and influencing other works. Desire is a powerful motivator and it can be applied to many situations in life. Macbeth's desire for his wife's approval and for the throne causes him to kill his best friend Banquo. Medea's desire for Jason turns to hatred and causes her to kill her own children. Killing rivals is another plot device in both plays. Macbeth's rival was Banquo and Medea's was Princess Glauce.

The society of Shakespeare's time depicted women as weak, gentle and dependent on men, a similar society to fifth-century Athens. The two characters of Lady Macbeth and Medea are fierce and wicked and perhaps that is what makes them so memorable.

Modern Era (20th -21st Century)

There are still plays and movies being made about Euripides’ Medea. Interestingly enough they mostly stay true to the storyline, character perception and themes. The plays written recently are mostly modern day interpretations or at least have modern dialogue. An example of this is Mike Bartlett's version which came out in 2012. There have been clever plays written to make the story more relatable to present day. For example, the nurse is replaced with a lawyer and Jason is a businessman. This sort of interpretations adds a nice twist because you are able to imagine the plot becoming a possibility as opposed to an ancient tale. A movie called Medea is even coming out in November (2014) so the tale is still clearly appealing to us today.

Modern day movies with characters similar to Medea have changed the perception of her character significantly. For example, films such as Match Point, Fatal Attraction and Swim Fan show this. Swim Fan is a 'teenage' version. Match Point focuses mostly on the theme of luck. Fatal Attraction holds a striking amount of resemblance to Medea.

In Fatal Attraction, Dan is a married man who has an affair with Alex. She becomes obsessed with him, will not leave him alone and tries to kill his wife, Beth.

The film is from Dan's point of view, depicting Alex as an insane stalker, rather than focusing on his guilty actions and lack of responsibility for pregnant Alex. Alex, like Medea, is betrayed by the man she loves. She also will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Dan demands that Alex never contacts him again. This is similar to Medea being exiled from Corinth. Alex is deceptive to Beth, pretending to be looking at buying Beth and Dan's house (like Medea giving gifts to Glauce). Alex she despises Dan's family like Medea despises Jason's need for a new family. Alex is vulnerable and hurt by Dan’s actions and attempts to commit suicide. Medea is in mourning but never desires to hurt herself from the beginning, only others. This is of course continuing the Homeric notion of 'help your friends, harm your enemies.' which Alex adapts throughout the film. These characters also use fear as their aid. Medea is determined not to be ridiculed: 'There's relief knowing you cannot laugh at me' [3] and so instead of getting into a bloodbath with Jason's bride, she poisons her. Alex boils the rabbit belonging to Dan's son to prove she will not leave him alone.

Feminism has taken a downturn in this film. Alex is portrayed as being in the wrong. She is dependent on Dan's love, whereas Medea just wants revenge. Alex is depicted as somewhat weak and she is the one overpowered at the end by Beth. This implies she is not a clever character and is insane. However, it was Dan's choice to sleep with her in the first place. The spiral of events that followed began with Dan and he is simply facing the repercussions of his actions. When Alex became pregnant, he left her with no financial or emotional support. So why is it that she is blamed for wanting him in her life? After her suicide attempt his actions were perfunctory. This plot has shifted the character of Jason, portraying him as the victim. In this modern depiction, he is the one in control of his life and relationships. Alex and Beth are rivals and instead of Medea killing Glauce, the roles are reversed. Alex is shown as the villain and so the message of the story has vastly changed. The audience appears to accept this and has enjoys cheering for the cheater, Dan.

The theme of desire is again used in an exciting, dangerous manner. It is what drives the characters to extremes. 'If you call here again I'll kill you' [9] says Beth. She is clearly not bluffing about her love for Dan because she carries out her threat. Dan's passion for Alex leads him to make a disastrous mistake. His love for his wife motivated him to make an attempt on Alex's life. Alex's obsession with Dan causes her to brandish a knife towards Beth. This theme is so dramatic that it keeps a modern audience captivated.

Even modern day songs are being subconsciously influenced by Euripides' Medea. The song Breezeblocks by Alt-J is about an obsession taken too far. The music video shows a murder in slow reverse of a man with a wedding ring killing a woman without one. A third character is tied up, also wearing a wedding ring. When the video is watched backwards, it appears that the man has tied up the third character and killing the other woman. It appears the man is the villain. When the video is watched forwards, it shows him untying the third character. The unmarried woman is trying to kill him and he is defending himself and his wife. This shows it is all about perspective. Both characters are in the wrong, much like Jason and Medea. However, it does seem to show that the man is ultimately in the wrong. He made the mistake of becoming involved with another woman and killed her as she was running away from him. There are several close up shots of him with his head in his hands, showing his grief. Another close up shot of his wedding ring adds to his obvious remorse. This is different than Jason, who blames everything on Medea.

Like Jason and Medea's relationship, the lyrics show the affair is obsessive, destructive and unhealthy: 'Please don't go. I'll eat you whole. I love you so. I love you so.' [10] The songwriters say this is a reference to the book Where the Wild Things Are. It is about loving someone to the extent where you wish them harm if they leave. This is exactly how Medea's love turned to hatred at Jason's betrayal. It is interesting that even the music currently listened to by teenagers portrays themes and plots that relate to this ancient myth.

In conclusion, throughout these three time periods the character of Medea shifts substantially. The character avenging her rival does not change and neither does her strong personality. It is an interesting concept that even when Jason is in the wrong, Medea is still depicted as the villain. The perception of her does not change even when her character does. The shocking acts of murder are what make the story so compelling. It is dramatic, exciting and filled with fascinating horror. If something is shocking it will be talked about because it is ultimately more interesting than a slice of life play. Tragedies are more suspenseful. The themes of betrayal and desire are raw human emotions and so they are relatable to the audience. At some point everyone has wanted a taste of revenge in their lives. The role of women in this play throughout the ages is an ever changing concept that holds a great deal of interest and fascination. The nature of evil and the theme of desire is what motivates the characters and keeps the plot moving forward. This tragic play is dramatic, intriguing and will continue to be influential on future societies.


[1] Abbreviated version of William Congreve, The Mourning Bride.








[9] Fatal Attraction, Adrian Lyne, 1987.