Empowered Poets at John O’Gaunt School

A group of Year 11 English GCSE students from John O’Gaunt School in Hungerford were thrilled to find every one of their poems accepted for publication.

The poems feature in the newly published Young Writers’ Anthology ‘Empowered’. Their teacher, Mrs Jay Morgan, Assistant Vice Principal and Excalibur Academy Trust’s English and Literacy Secondary Lead, said: ‘We’re so proud of these students, as well as our growing reputation for nurturing and producing academics, writers and poets. That all our entries were accepted into the anthology is testament to the ‘empowerment’ of our students. This is a fantastic achievement.’

She continued; ‘it takes a great deal of courage to write poetry you know others might see. But they know writing is a powerful tool for life. These are galvanising, imaginative, moving words. These young people have dug deep and honed their craft.’

The poems and voices are diverse. One is ‘as if Shakespeare’s Iago himself were speaking…it bursts with a passion for the past and revels in giving a voice to a duplicitous character. Another deals with the rising tide and culture of global protest and dissent, and another is a reflection on what freedom is – and isn’t. Other poems address poverty, inequality, race, power and gender.

Editor Donna Samworth told the school, ‘I am delighted to let you know I have chosen all of the work – which is amazing. Having all your students’ work chosen for publication is something to be proud of; it doesn’t happen every day. I was impressed with their writing and it’s clear that they’ve been really inspired … such a privilege to read, and every piece will have an impact in this anthology’.

Mrs Morgan replied, ‘we are thrilled. This is what JoG Students do: think deeply and independently, consider, imagine and empathise; then form, challenge and develop perspectives and create fantastic responses. Congratulations to all!

Here is one of the published poems:


Games and Gambles

A society sundered by the wishes of a selfish few,

master strategists in this game of chess they play with peoples’ lives

where losing a piece means nothing to them

but destroys everything for someone else.

We’re left flinging chips and gambling –

stakes much higher than a few lost bucks –

every time we make our voices heard,

grasping, gripping, grabbing onto every chance we get to make them listen,

the cacophony and clamour of cries rising above, above, above

the clack of the roulette that they’ve rigged to let them win.

And once we’re sick of our pleadings falling on deaf ears

and our ire falling on blind eyes,

seas of flags and banners will flood the street –

the release of pent-up vehemence in people silenced for too long –

the drab grey roads incarnadine with fury,

we’ll march across the chequered board of city streets


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Victoria Jaworska (Year 11)


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