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The Writing on the Wall

Trinity’s Senior Fellow Commoner in the Creative Arts and author Ali Smith credits Year 9-11 students contributing to The Litmus 2022, the College’s writing initiative, with ‘a determination, against the odds, to be heard’.

Students took inspiration from the idea of ‘The Writing on the Wall’ suggested by Ali Smith, who has championed The Litmus since its inception in 2019. Ali’s own most recent publications include a series of novels named after the four seasons and, earlier this year, Companion Piece. In June she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Cambridge.

Ali Smith

Contributions to this year’s Litmus include Aoife Cahill’s ‘Late’, an appraisal of a piece of street art in an alleyway on her route to school; Benedict Heath who writes in his dystopian story ‘And as the days turn to weeks turn to months turn to a year, I hold out hope for an ordinary future’; and a reimagining of the Biblical story of Belshazzar and his guests by Aoife McCann.

Ali Smith said:

We wondered what students would make of this theme. The answer is myriad, and powerful. They make a paean to freedom of expression and a steady vision of revolt against tyrannies, historical, political, personal, local, societal. They express deep disquiet about cynicism; they signal acute anxiety about the proximity of the dystopic. Above all they reveal a determination, against the odds, to be heard.

Student Teresa Kruzycka said in her prose entry, ‘I suppose, that what I’m trying to say is that words are more powerful than they are given credit for. Without words I would be just a particle of who I am, an empty shell with no expression’.


Teresa Kruzycka’s artwork

The project is aimed at students in years 9-11 at state school (or on a full scholarship to a fee-paying school) and accepts poetry, prose or artwork. This year 55 entries were received from students at 22 schools.

All of the submissions were published on the Litmus website and 30 were selected by Ali Smith for a print publication.

Professor Adrian Poole, co-editor of the printed volume, said:

We are delighted to encourage young people’s writing, to give them the thrill of seeing their words published, online and in print. We hope this gives them the impetus to go on dreaming and imagining, exploring their own creative potential, and developing their craft.

Student Rachel Dillon from St Edmund’s Catholic School, Portsmouth, said:

I took part to start with as a bit of fun and wasn’t very confident in what I’d done. I was super shocked when my work was selected, it was a bit overwhelming. I’m doing more creative work now, writing song lyrics.


Rachel Dillon’s poem in the printed edition


Read the Writing on the Wall entries on the Litmus website.



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