Winners of Asia House Student Writing Competition revealed

Some of the students who entered the Student Writing Competition

A teacher with some students from Saltley School, Birmingham, who entered the Asia House Student Writing Competition, at More or less Asian? A debate on stereotypes in literature

Winners of Asia House Student Writing Competition revealed

13 November 2014

By Naomi Canton

A witty satire exploring gender stereotypes in families and a poem about the relationship between a mother and her children that is stifled by traditional values, were the two pieces of creative writing that won this year’s Asia House Bagri Foundation Student Writing Competition.

The contest for young people aged 12 to 18 at schools in London, Manchester and the Midlands took place as part of this year’s Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival.

In partnership with London’s Eastside Educational Trust, authors and creative writing facilitators visited schools and held workshops with young people exploring Asian literature and culture. Taking this year’s festival theme of ‘Changing Values’ as inspiration, they wrote their own stories and essays on the chosen theme and what it meant to them. A total of 291 young people submitted stories to the contest.

The winners were announced during the event More or less Asian? A debate on stereotypes in literature, which was held at Asia House on 12 November, 2014.

Cora Jundi McKnight, a 13-year-old pupil at William Hulme’s Grammar School in Manchester, won the 12-16 age category in the contest.

Her story, titled Opposite Day, is an unforgettable satire on gender stereotypes in families, where often parents treat their own children of different sexes differently. In Cora’s story, the stereotypes are turned on their head and it is the boy who gets sidelined and deprived the good education that his sister gets. It is also the boy who is forced into an arranged marriage with a woman much older than him.

Cora Jundi McKnight

Cora Jundi McKnight

Cory was unable to attend the event. But Ian O’Brien, English Teacher at William Hulme’s Grammar School, said: “I have spoken to her parents and they are tell me Cora is delighted to have won the award.

“Cora, as with all of the pupils involved, really enjoyed the opportunity to get involved in creative writing,” he said. “It’s so refreshing to be able to write in a way that isn’t linked to exams or to coursework, writing that isn’t marked and assessed but appreciated in a completely different way.”

He added: “Pupils of Asian heritage and of non-Asian heritage appreciated the opportunity to discuss the issues raised in the workshop and explore themes relevant to their lives. Competitions such as this really do make an impact and our pupils were thrilled to be rewarded in this way.”

The runners up in the 12-16 age category were:-

2nd place: Fareema Fassihi, a pupil at William Hulme’s Grammar School

3rd place: Amy San, a pupil at Heartlands Academy in Birmingham

4th place: Jasmine Kava, a pupil at Rushey Mead School in Leicester

There were two categories of prizes – one for children aged 12-16 and one  for those in the sixth form aged 17-18.

The 2014 winner in the 17-18 age category was Kira Glenn, a 17-year-old pupil at William Hulme’s Grammar School in Manchester.  Her poem, titled Seedsexplores the relationship between a mother and her children, stifled by traditional values. The children struggle to break free from the confines of their culture, but eventually do so. This is seen not only through the metaphor of the poem, but also through the loosening of rhetorical control within the structure of the poem.

Kira was also unable to attend the event but she sent over a video clip as an acceptance speech. You can watch it beneath:-

The runners-up in the 17-18 age category were:

2nd place: Hassan Mahmood, a pupil at Handsworth Grammar School, Birmingham

3rd place: Juliette Bowen, a pupil at William Hulme’s Grammar School

4th place: Anisha Talita, a pupil at William Hulme’s Grammar School

The judges were Asia House Head of Arts and Learning Pamela Kember, Andrew Wilson, former Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival Director Adrienne Loftus-Parkins, author Prajwal Parajuly and freelance journalist David Cowell.

Adrienne Loftus-Parkins, who stepped down as Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival Director earlier this year, said: “I’m delighted to see the strong growth of the Writing Competition since it was started, only last year.  Chosen from a field of more than 250 submissions this year, the young writers who have won can be especially proud of their achievement.”

She added: “The depth and feeling with which they tackled the theme illustrates a maturity and ability beyond their years.  Congratulations to all the students who submitted work such excellent work, and particularly to the winners and runners-up.  I hope they will be inspired to develop their writing and their literary confidence.”

Another judge Andrew Wilson said: “It is heartening to see the imagination and command of language reflected in the top entries, and how seriously these young people have addressed the theme of ‘Values’ in their stories, essays, and poetry. Bravo!”

Jemimah Steinfeld, Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival Manager, said: “In my view everyone was a winner because every single judge had different views on who should have made the finals which proves that good literature is slightly in the eye of the beholder. So I think all the children therefore did extremely well.”

For more information about the Student Writing Competition click here. For more information about the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival click here.

Our next literature event is a an exciting Iranian food Odyssey with the author of a new Persian cookbook Jila Dana-Haeri on 14 November at 15.00. Don’t miss the Persian tea and desserts! For more information click here.