Last night I had the pleasure of joining staff and students at Whitgift School for the launch of their 2016 anthology, a collection of writing from across the school community.
During the past year or two I confess that for me the act of writing has sometimes felt like a chore, instead of feeling as it used like a fierce and joyous compulsion. But reading the boys’ poems caused me to remember vividly what it was like to write for the love of it – to write because you have things to say and you want to say them well.
The Whitgift anthology takes its reader on an extraordinarily imaginative journey. Within its pages we go back in time to a prehistoric valley and forward in time to a chilling dystopia. We go back into the memories of old men, forward in the dreams of young men. We go to Africa, to India, to forests and volcanos, we come to Whitgift, where ‘peacocks with plumage proud strut in cool gardens’ and then we turn a page and find ourselves ‘in nasty blizzard of mid-winter in deep dark trenches full of rats’.
The editors chose to order the anthology not by year group but by the mood of the writing, starting with cheerful hopscotchy poems and moving on to darker material. In their lovely foreword the editors invite us to experience ‘the full journey, from elation to annihilation’!
One of the finest wordsmiths of the twentieth century (Bertie Wooster) said this: “I’m not absolutely certain of the facts, but I rather fancy it’s Shakespeare who says that it’s always just when a fellow is feeling particularly braced with things in general that Fate sneaks up behind him with the bit of lead piping.” So well done to the editorial team for making us feel particularly braced with things in general and then for sneaking up on us so stealthily with the lead piping of Fate. They have effected a truly knock-out blow.
All proceeds from sales the Whitgift Anthology go to Book Aid International. Do let me know if you would like to buy a copy, and I’ll put you in touch with someone who can procure one for you!
There are over fifty poems and short plays in the anthology – here is just a small sample: