Reading the pieces submitted for this inaugural Anglian Learning Writing Prize, I was reminded what a privilege it is to be trusted with someone else’s creative work. It is a brave thing to send that work out for other people to read, and in the case of a writing prize to know that only a small number can be selected for publication. So I want to begin by thanking everyone who entered — it was an absolute pleasure to read the work you submitted.

            The pieces that are published within this anthology represent what we felt were the strongest from among those received. What I mean by that is not necessarily the most polished writing, but that which proposes a distinct narrative ‘voice’ — a kind of pleasing difference in the style or tone of writing that can be incredibly hard to define, but which sets that piece apart from others. The stories selected here also    demonstrate their authors’ enviable ability to deftly describe and build an entire world for the reader — whether that be the otherworldly setting of a sentient library, a dusty, eerie landscape with a lone car passing through, or the comical yet sympathetic account of a family holiday — no mean feat when limited to 500 words.

            Gathered together these pieces also offer a unique snapshot of what really matters to young people today; what issues they care enough about to dedicate their own creative energies to. We did not set any themes for the prize, yet all the work received could be said to fall into one of three distinct categories: relationships, especially those involving loss or change, the natural world and the climate crisis, and the imagined future, anticipated in stories that are dystopian or sci-fi in style. We have resisted grouping the published pieces according to these themes but they will shine through as you read.

            Four overall winners were selected: Thammaiah Calappa, Isla Lindsell, Essie Opie, and Isobel Whitton. Each of their pieces is prefaced by a short note, which in fact is hardly needed, as it will be clear to any reader why these works merited particular distinction. So here I simply want to say congratulations to them; and to all the shortlisted entries featured within this wonderful anthology.

Freya Dean, Editor, Hinterland magazine

Head Writing Judge

Kettle’s Yard founder, Jim Ede, believed passionately that art and creativity was something as fundamental as breathing, and advocated for art as ‘a way of life’. The artwork and designs submitted by pupils for the first Anglian Learning Anthology all exemplified this belief entirely. Not only did they reflect the impact that creative writing can have on us as readers, transporting us to other worlds, perspectives and experiences, but also how words can inspire us to express this through other art forms. I hope the artwork you find throughout this publication provides you with a moment to pause and reflect upon what you have read here, and that you too make creativity a part of your way of life into the future. 

Karen Thomas, Community Manager, Kettle’s Yard 

Cover Design Judge