Welcome back to the Write Back’s Showcase, where we bring you stories and poems from our group as well as other writers who have submitted to Write On!
We are Manusha and Blessings, two young writers from the Write Back programme. Write Back is a place where young writers from Barking and Dagenham get to express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences through storytelling. We believe every young person has a story to tell and the power to share it. You can find out more about us on our website: write-back.org.
Blessings says: “The theme for this week’s Showcase is nature. Anything that occurs naturally has always fascinated me: from majestic animals to impressive plants. Each living thing has individual, unique characteristics. This world truly shouldn’t be underestimated.
This beautiful piece of linocut art is by Write On! regular, Patricia Bidi. It depicts the close relationship between humanity and nature we are exploring this week.”
To begin this Showcase, let’s introduce a poem called The Blue Swan by Write Back storyteller Harmony. It centres around a swan. Its beauty awes the narrator, allowing her to tell the story of its life.
The Blue Swan
Her feathers painted blue,
Unlike the rest,
Flawless and beautiful.
She sings the song of innocence.
A tranquil lullaby that heals all when it’s heard.
I observe her from afar as she glides calmly across the pristine waters.
In pure harmony.
Looking unblemished, untouched, and unused.
She is the epitome of perfection.
With her gentle and steady motions,
Scarcely disturbing the serene waters.
What a gorgeous spectacle I am witnessing.
Now her symphony has evolved,
And now she sings a tune of experience and wisdom.
She is instilled with the impurities of the earth.
The earth’s contaminants have now been implanted in her.
She laments the loss of her innocence.
Her blissful lullaby still heals all when heard.
But the fellow swans abuse her,
As if to think she’s caught a deadly disease.
To be an elegant swan you must uphold a pure mind.
Free of corruption.
Free of all things polluted.
But they don’t know that such innocence was stolen from her.
She didn’t choose such a fate-
It was forcefully imposed on her.
Despite her loss of innocence,
I think she is still perfect.
Even with her abnormal blue feathers
Even with her new scars and blemishes.
She still possesses that same
Flawlessness and beauty.
(c) Harmony, 2022
This poem reminds me of the idiom ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’. Though swans are glorified as elegant beings, their actual lifestyle is one that most wouldn’t begin to understand. It teaches us not to perceive nature as merely a work of art, but also to acknowledge the troubles and despair that happen in the natural world.
The next poem, Rain, is by Write On! regular, Palak Tewary. Rain is one of the most uncomfortable elements of the weather. Harsh rain spits on your clothes and shoes and your socks get irritably wet. What could there possibly be to look forward to, in such grim weather?
As I sit by my window sill,
the rain drops start to patter,
I feel a smile find its way to my lips,
and all the worries no longer matter.
As I hold out my hand to stop their race,
the rain drops start to spatter,
I feel a wetness find its way to my face,
and of tears and beams, I get the latter.
As I step outside and feel the water,
the rain drops start to scatter
I feel a twitch find its way to my legs,
and my feet start to clatter.
As I dance around and sing in the rain,
the rain drops start to natter,
I feel a joy find its way to my heart, and
my delusion about sunshine starts to shatter.
© Palak Tewary, 2022
Connect with Palak Tewary on palaktewary.com or through Twitter + Instagram: @palaktewary
As you can see for Palak, rain is a symbol to relax and enjoy ourselves, no matter the downsides. Watching the drops from the window also seems to hold a childlike excitement for her. In society, we are pushed into the world of adulting; everything holds weight and nothing is taken lightly. But sometimes it’s OK to let yourself go and forget about the pressure of being, or becoming, an adult. Just look up at the sky! You may discover something you hadn’t noticed before.
Our next piece, Chameleon, is by Toki. Many of us have instances where we must change to fit in. This can lead to misunderstandings of who we are, or want to become. The author has chosen to represent this through an animal that reacts quickly to what’s around it.
A chameleon can easily walk into any room without being noticed. They are always hiding from predators by changing themselves to fit into their surroundings. To avoid getting targeted by bigger, fiercer creatures, they constantly have to change who they are.
I am not like a chameleon.
Or am I?
I don’t understand why chameleons are at the bottom
After all they are smart creatures and they have eyes on the side of their head so they can observe their surroundings.
I am always observing my surroundings
Chameleons are beautiful and colourful creatures. But not too colourful, that’s dangerous.
I can’t be too colourful. I have to know my limits. After all, I don’t want to be targeted.
What if I was like everyone else?
What if I was big like all the other creatures?
What if I wasn’t as colourful?
Not standing out
Am I a chameleon?
I am a chameleon.
I am a chameleon
But we are nothing alike
I am a chameleon
I feel safer when I’m hiding
I am a chameleon
Always hiding from predators
I am a chameleon.
But I don’t want be.
(c) Toki, 2022
It’s known that chameleons change the colour of their skin to survive their habitat. It’s not temporary, as their lives are dependent on their quick actions to hide themselves. Like chameleons, we humans often think that changing ourselves to please others is the only way to live.
Up next is a submission from Alicia Hayden, Fisher King, about the relationship between the kingfisher and the fisher king. Each year, nature keeps to a routine according to the seasons. We can sometimes forget that even the tiniest routines contribute greatly to the ecosystem.
There is some sort of unspeakable, inexplicable, and unexplainable bond between the kingfisher – a halcyon knight piercing the day with arrow-like feathers – and the fisher king.
The fisher king is not one person, but many. Some men, some women, some neither, and some both; their form is fluid, like the river from which they are born.
And the kingfisher helps select them; a sharp, decisive splash into the river bed, disturbing pebbles –
His beak brushes against the silver sword of a stickleback,
And the fisher king rises up, up, up – water pouring from their magnificent hands, pebbles quivering to form a face:
A face of a god.
He stretches out slender arms made of wood and caddisfly silk, and the kingfisher flutters to a rest, his job over for the year.
© Alicia Hayden, 2021
It seems as though this routine is one not to be disturbed. Instead, it should be observed from a distance to let the routine carry out naturally. However, as time has progressed, we have disrupted such routines all over the world; some that have lasted for centuries have vanished from the face of the earth. If we keep up such destruction, the special bonds in the natural world will be damaged, without us understanding how beneficial they are.
To finish this week’s Showcase, we scale down to focus on the little things in nature. It’s October And There Are Buttercups takes us through the journey of these flowers as the season changes.
It’s October And There Are Buttercups
small buttons of yellow; pools of jersey milk in green saucers which the cat hasn’t got round to lapping up yet.
The soft petal edges feel like hammocks for thunder beetles – hiding their armour from the rain which grumbles threateningly.
Somewhere, a stag roars, and the Earth trembles in anticipation of rain.
And while nettles shrink back into trodden ground, and grasses turn various shades of beige,
the buttercups stand defiant in the face of the weakening winter sun, chanting in unison:
“We are the buttercups. We are the buttercups. We are the buttercups. We are -“
© Alicia Hayden, 2021
When going about your daily activities, take time to discover your surroundings. Whether through a window, online, or out in the world, it’s important to appreciate the tiny works of natural art that grow alongside us. Due to global warming, many of these have decreased drastically, with no turning back. We must act upon this emergency, or there will be a time when such simple yet beautiful species will no longer exist.
Thank you for discovering how much nature can inspire writers. It has done so for many generations and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. All the stories have linked directly to us as storytellers, as nature has always been, and will always be, a part of us. We hope you will come back for our final week, where you’ll find more stories deserving to be shared under the theme: ‘The Troubles Of Being Human.’ We will also be featuring the winning Haiku from Pen to Print’s social media prompt.
See you next time!
If you’d like to see your writing appear in the Write On! Showcase, please submit your short stories, poetry or novel extracts to: pentoprint.org/get-involved/submit-to-write-on/
You can hear extracts from Showcase in our podcast. Write On! Audio. Find us on all major podcast platforms, including Apple and Google Podcasts and Spotify. Type Pen to Print into your browser and look for our logo or find us on Anchor FM.