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Word War III: Poetry by First Story Students at Farnborough Academy

4 January 18 words: Paula Rawsthorne

Local author Paula Rawsthorne treats us to a selection of writings from her First Story students at Farnborough Academy, published in their anthology Word War III...

First Story is a national literacy charity that places professional writers into secondary schools in lower income areas. This year they’re working in seventy schools, including twelve in the East Midlands. I have the pleasure of being the First Story writer in residence at Farnborough Academy in Clifton. I run weekly workshops with a great group of students from across all years. Workshops are designed to be fun, stimulating and allow young people to discover their own unique voices. Creative sparks fly as students bounce ideas off each other and grow in confidence week by week. The students also participate in Writers’ festivals at the Universities of Oxford and Nottingham, and two lucky students attend a five-day Arvon residential at a rural retreat.    

In the summer term, an anthology of their work is published by Oxford University Press. Students are involved in every stage of the publishing process from selecting their favourite pieces, editing their work, designing the book cover and organising a launch. Last summer, at Farnborough Academy, our group held a launch party attended by family, friends, teachers, and members of the Nottingham writing community. As the students stood up to read their fabulous work with such confidence, everyone in the  room could see that the future of Nottingham as a City of Literature is in good hands.

Get Packing

Spaghetti Bolognese would be the first item to go into my suitcase – the succulent dish would last for eternity.  It would be placed softly, with cling film on the very top.

Next up would be the famous book, War Horse (also the best film, in my opinion).

Don’t Look Back in Anger was what my parents used to say, so that’s the reason I chose the song to come with me.

The fulfilling scent of Avon hairspray reminds me of how my mother became an Avon representative and it would make me happy for her scent to always be with me.

The item of clothing that I would choose for a lifetime would undoubtedly be the best onesie of all time - MINIONS!  The reason lies behind the Despicable Me trilogy and the standalone film. The smell of Lynx Africa would guide itself into my suitcase because it sees itself with me for the rest of its life (that may not be long).

The superpower, super-speed, would be my best friend and help me find a new place to lay my head for weeks, until I travel again.

Finally, the characteristic of sarcasm would jump in; sending every person that I speak to over to Sass town.

Daniel Carpenter

The Moon and His Shadow

Her freckles like constellations in a dark, blue sky

Her hair sat like coiled gold in slight amber light

Her voice, the keys of a piano, soft and peaceful

Never harsh and sharp.

She had a smile as vast as the sky and as deep as the ocean,

But it was not enough to mend their love.

She had eyes that were bright, but now felt dark and empty,

His eyes were bright still and just as lustful as they once were,

So they wandered from her love.

Like the moon, he followed the sun and still saw the stars.

As the sun, she shadowed the moon, and cared for only his love,

She was light and he was mystery, and could never be settled down.

His strength was of the gods, but was close to nothing when she was angry,

He played her harshly and heard, for the first time, a song that was so strong and powerful

It played through his guilty head on repeat.

A song he heard that contained the voice of the woman he cheated,

A woman who loved him.

But truth parted them like embroidery thread, only to be used again by another.

Dionne Goodman


How weird are books?  You sit by yourself and stare at a collection of letters …

Letters making words that transform you into somebody else,

Transporting you to different places, different worlds, making you fall in love with characters.

In fact, you’re staring at symbols right now,

Yet we do it to lead a different life; to be entertained and, sometimes, to ignore the terrible world around us.

Some people say we’re lame for reading, yet they’re living just one life, while we can live thousands.

We’re not Bookworms, we’re BOOKDRAGONS!  Devouring every word, living every story and that’s pretty cool.

Eliza Widdowson

The Gorilla’s Day Out

As the gorilla walks out of the zoo, showing off, the chickens shout after him, ‘Destroy KFC!’

He firstly buys a fake moustache, glasses and a hat to go in disguise.  He then stomps to the London Underground and terrifies everyone so that he gets a train all to himself.

After he gets off the train, Gorilla heads to the Thames and, with an eternal thirst, drinks all the water in it.

He decides to climbs up the London Eye to get a better view of the city, but it detaches and rolls through the Houses of Parliament with Gorilla running on top of it like a hamster wheel whilst dancing like Justin Timberlake.

The Gorilla scales Big Ben, roaring. Planes come and circle around the fearsome creature so he slides his way down.

Exhausted, Gorilla sits next to one of the Queen’s Beefeaters who is reading The Times.

He asks him, ‘Are you finished with the sports section?’

But, sadly Gorilla’s journey came to an end when his moustache fell off and he was recognized.

Matthew Isaac

Gaming for Geeks

When you smile, I think of God’s light

When I’m deep in thought, eyebrows go Harambe

When I think of Mona Lisa, I think of Mama’s pizza

When I catch CoD at the lake, I start getting triggered

When people swear, I think of soap

When I see your teeth, the rain starts pouring

When I kill CoD, I start shouting

When I see the number 9000 in months, my brain burns into Goku

When I think of your apps, I transport to old school 1998 where Mario sleeps

When I see your face on camera, I edit it to 1995 half-life

When there is a nuclear bomb, I think your voice set it off

But when there’s a tornado, your voice blows it away.

Avin Green

Handle with Care

His mouth, a gun with insults as bullets ready to fire

His hair, a Porcupine’s broken, dirty spikes

Eyes, locked padlocks to always keep those secrets

Ears, tree branches growing constantly.

His crooked nose, stolen from the Wicked Witch of the West

Voice of a demon, escaping the deepest parts of hell

A smile of an annoying cheeky wolf, broken free from his sewn lips

Teeth of enchanted Roman spears, always ready to pierce and lance.

His fingers, crowbars to break down anything in his path

Eyebrows, the arch of a tensed bowstring, ready to fire.

Aaron Ismay

All Packed

It was hard to put it all in – it took a long time, an eternity!

I put in my superpower of making KFC pop out of my hands, and giving it to the poor.

I coaxed my lion into the suitcase.  It was hard for him to understand me at first but we got there eventually.

Then I tucked my jumpsuit over my lion to keep it warm.

Near the jumpsuit were Gandhi’s flip-flops, saying all sorts of inspirational quotes to cheer me up.

I also hid my KFC scent – it smells nice, okay!

Don’t make me forget about my favourite song, Max - Gibberish!

And I squeezed in my talent – to be a skilled survivor, so I could survive through the jungle.

You may think it’s weird, but think it’s perfect.

Syntych Mayala

The Letter

Dear Family,

I know that you expected joy from me, but instead I ache with pain.

I write to say that I’ll never see my child’s smile.

I toss and turn, hoping to hear a cry from the nursery.

I long to see their face, watch them grow up into something better than me.

I weep as I see the empty crib, weep at the empty pram in the hall.

I miss a smile I never saw.

A laugh I never heard.

A cry I’ll never tend to.

A mouth I’ll never have to feed.

First steps I’ll never witness.

Trinity Cooper

The Bed… My One True Love

Dear my beloved bed,

I can’t help but love you.  Your comfort never fails to amaze me.  No matter the day (or night, rather) or time, you’re always there for me.  You’ve helped me through every emotion (especially laziness).  You always seem to one-up those old, creaky, uncomfortable beds that I’ve had in the past.  No matter what situation I’m in, you’ve never turned me away.  Remember that time you used the duvet to trip me up?  You make it seem like you’d do anything to make me stay.  I’d love to stay with you too. However, something always seems to drag me away (like that dreadful thing called school).

Don’t worry. We’ll always find each other at the end of the day.  Even when we’re forced to be apart for weeks at a time, I’ll always come back to you.  I hope that we’ll be together forever.



Phoebe Lees


Farnborough Academy's First Story students published their anthology Word War III in 2017

Paula Rawsthorne's psychological thriller Shell is published by Scholastic UK. The book launch is at Waterstones Nottingham
on Wednesday 10 January 2018

First Story website

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