GSA Creative Writing Award Winners 2023

Hamna Kahn 

Years 3-6 Winner

Change the people surrounding you . Change your view.

I hate my friends
And you’ll never hear me say
I love my friends
I’ll always
Be alone
And I won’t
Lend anyone a pad or a tampon
I’ll always
Distance myself
And I’ll never
Hold a conversation with anyone
I try to
Make myself invisible
And don’t
Participate in class
And I always say to myself
I am too scared
And you’ll never hear me say that
I Have a true best friend

Bethan Conway

Years 7-9 Winner

September Again

Summer, and the night sky is studded with stars,
Constellations seem to construct the freckles on your cheeks.

The noble, old oak stands like a lighthouse,
Someone to guide me through the crashing waves of the year.

And there’s something about the branches,
That nudge memories of an outstretched, welcoming hand.

The moon has risen above the silhouetted line of trees,
Proof that there will always be light in darkness.

Even the sweet, fresh smell of the holiday air,
Gives a little reminder of your light-hearted nature.

But it’s summer, and we’ve drifted apart again,
Everything around me contains a memento of you.

And, strangely, all I want is for September to arrive,
So, we can laugh and lift the spirits of a dreary Autumn.

Annabelle Duggan

Years 10-13 Winner

dahlia jaune

‘I’m fine, thanks, how’s your family?’

it starts like this when emerging from her wintery freeze:
she feels a foxglove,
but acts a white lily.

but i remember
those days in the languid summer air
laying on the tatty trampoline
over stained blankets.
a blossoming pairs’ fingers caressing
the keys of her family piano in the height of the heat.

now with each passing annum, the passing seasons of her self:
white lily, foxglove, bleeding heart, white tulip;
everchanging, ever the same in changing.

i’ll wait for her

when her wintery crystals
thaw and her petals are true
a dahlia jaune is she and
oh, how she blooms!

i beg us not talk of such folly as family,
i beg us reconnect with what is always ours.
memory is how we rekindle,
memory makes for love, reflowered:

‘Anaïs, do you remember…’
Yes, she voices. Revenons à la faune

Karen McCarthy Woolf

GSA Writer in Residence & Award Judge


From Karen MCCarthy Woolf:

I borrowed the title ‘Impossible Friendships’ from a poem by Adam Zagajewski as it struck a chord with how friendships are both rewarding and challenging, how so often we want them to be ideal rather than real. In his poem he writes about friendships that can’t exist for a variety of reasons. In my poem I wanted to express how our friendships are never simple, how we can have friends who we like spending time with but who also challenge us. I’ve used some quoted lines from it as
an epigraph at the top.
My poem ‘Impossible Friendships’ is in a form called an Abcedary. Mediaeval monks used it at a time when most people were illiterate to illustrate aspects of the bible in churches–– often the letters were carved into stone. In the modern version of the form each line of the poem begins with a consecutive letter: a, b, c, d etc and the challenge is getting the text to flow so that it feels natural, rather than forced. Sometimes the lines are enjambed, which amplifies that sense of fluidity; at others
they are end-stopped and the new letter is capitalised eg, ‘Mum thinks Adelia’s hilarious…’.

Impossible Friendships

‘For example with someone who no longer is, Who exists  And friendship  with yourself ––since after all you don’t know who you are.’

Adam Zagajewski, ‘Impossible Friendships’



–– After school               at bus stops!/    her

blond hair                         cascading/          I can’t


compete/ we always compete!/ I’m a

Dandelion          to her  Damask Rose/ our roots


entangled /under bobbly             sheets / if she’s

fair-weathered/ I’m shade-loving, right?    /the


ground gets

harder over the years/ stony even––


I’m trying so hard to be

jealous enough! /    Adélia says I’m Japanese


knotweed and that her rosebush has clusters of

living jewels


Mum thinks Adélia’s hilarious/     Mum’s

not exactly         the best judge /


of character                      or anything else in

particular           /although she always                    gets her


q out on a triple at Scrabble, which is

rather annoying when you’ve got four ‘i’s, two ‘e’s and no



To be quite honest          I would’ve given


up  on Adélia     completely /I was literally

virtually              ready    to


walk away                         / they call it a French

exit                      when you slip off and don’t say


your      goodbyes            so everything fizzes / like lemon

zest !       /At least  that’s what Adélia says––

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