Sitting in front of an empty page or a blank canvas can be terrifying. You’ve been told you have to write a poem, a story or an essay, or draw or paint something to hold up for all to admire, or criticise. The words don’t always come, your teacher has given you a deadline. What’s more, there’s a chance that your work could be published in a local newspaper, printed 50,000 times and end up in the hands of thousands more. The pressure is on.
That’s why the schoolwork competition organised every year for this Education and Learning supplement is so gratifying. The students whose work is selected to be sent in to us by their teachers, and presumably many others who had to be rejected, due to our only-three rule, all managed to fill their pages and canvases with something that has the potential of being enjoyed, not just by their parents and teachers, but also by the thousands of readers of SUR in English.
This year, more precise guidelines were introduced: the poems had to contain the words ‘memory’ and ‘window’ and the short stories were given an environmental theme.
As usual the judges - art critic Georgina Oliver, former editor Liz Parry and columnist and songwriter Peter Edgerton - had a tough, but enjoyable, job picking out their favourite short stories, poems and pieces of artwork, and stressed the quality of the work submitted.