Matthew Flinders Anglican College Year 11 student Lucy Taylor met with Principal Stuart Meade for a photo opportunity to recognise her recent poetry award. Lucy won a Highly Commended Award for the poem she entered into the IEUA ETAQ Literary Competition. We asked Lucy to share her passion for writing and give insights into how she approaches a blank page. Lucy also said yes to our request to publish her award-winning poem, Corn Wolf, on this page - see below. Enjoy the read!
What do you enjoy about writing and poetry?
Through my writing I am able to express little parts of myself, as well as get at least some of the crowding ideas out of my head. I've always been quite creative, and I love the challenge of trying to piece together a poem or construct a character to generate a specific reaction. Writing has also helped me work through some issues and clear my head; it's always there, and I'm in control of what others get shown, so there's never any pressure to finish a piece or make it all perfect.
How else do you explore your passion for writing?
I've been a part of the Writers Group at Flinders for a few years now; it's such a great group of people, always willing to listen, share and give advice. Often when I've been struggling to write, Writers Group has been my motivation. Flinders' Head of English Mrs Donna Skilton and the student captain Alex Somlyay are constantly finding prompts and new competitions to enter. As of recently, I'm a less active member of the group, but I know if I ever need advice on my writing, they'll be happy to help.
What do you enjoy about English as a subject at Flinders?
Something I've always enjoyed about the English and Literature courses at Flinders is how they cover a wide variety of texts and assessment tasks. More challenging content allows us to diversify our perspective on the world, and the general skills learned in English are widely applicable to other subjects. Also, the English and Literature teachers at Flinders are highly engaging and compassionate, making lessons really enjoyable.
How are you able to develop your passion for writing at Flinders?
One of the reasons I chose Literature rather than English in senior was so that I could write creatively as an assignment rather than under exam conditions. This flexibility has really allowed me to develop my creative and analytical writing.
Who is a mentor to you, either at school or beyond?
My English teacher, Mrs Donna Skilton is a definite role model for me at school, as a teacher and a person. I love how she approaches teaching, and the positivity and empathy she has shown towards me constantly inspire me to keep writing and trying my best.
How do you hope to explore your writing interest further beyond Year 12 graduation?
Being an author after I leave school has been a distant dream of mine for a long time. At this point, I don't think it's the path I'll be looking to take, but I would love to keep writing on the side and possibly build a career from it slowly rather than aiming for it from the start.
What can you tell us about writing this poem?
I initially started Corn Wolf in 2018, so I really don't remember if anything in particular inspired it. I believe a shortened version of it fell out in only a night or two, but I never finished it. This year, Mrs Skilton encouraged me to enter a piece into the competition, and I decided to expand and rework Corn Wolf as I remembered liking the concept. I hadn't finished a poem in a while and was suddenly limited on time, so I struggled a bit to finish it in time. My absolute favourite line is "Heavy black paws break brittle beetle backs". I love the imagery and I think it really suits the kind of dark folklore feel I was going for.
Do you have a regular writing routine?
I don't write with any schedule, and usually struggle to find time. When I do write, I always think about how helpful it would be to plan out my stories or at least brainstorm, but then I never do and always end up diving straight in. This is probably why I struggle to finish stories, but I find that my best works are the ones that fall out easily from the beginning.
Lucy's poem is shared here below, with Lucy's permission.
A poem by Lucy Taylor
Fields of corn stand proud in the dark,
sharing whispers as the wolf stalks on;
Ashy fur catches on leaves,
tangles, tears and taunts;
Heavy black paws break brittle beetle backs,
while the field mice dance and the fleas hitch a ride;
The creature cares not for the gossip of corn,
but perhaps tonight it should have.
Crack! goes the gun,
and the hunt is on;
Lanky limbs burst into a sprint,
pads pounding, pulsing, pushing;
Stalks whip and snap and catch,
Mocking their unheeded warning;
Crack! and this one grazes by,
splits, ruptures, floods;
Falter, stumble, rise again,
the wolf ignores the blood.
Then near, the rushing water calls,
its singing signals safety;
But as the sprinter clears the corn,
that awful trumpet sounds its horn and;
Crack! a third shot blisters out,
the mark is hit and down;
The wolf’s bite matches not the bullet’s,
it falters, stumbles, falls.
Bird cage ribs let loose their captives,
spilling out deep crimson;
Claws gouge lines as eyes roll back,
biting back the pain until;
Submitting to the agony,
and falling into sweet submission.
The ground is cool so near the river,
a reminder of lush spring days;
Dazed and hurt with static eyes,
the wolf raises its head;
There on the bank, that distant shore,
a lonely pair of eyes;
Two gazes meet, a shared retreat,
but oh how short it lasts;
For the hunter’s cheers are closing in,
a raucous din muted by ringing ears;
Between those eyes there’s only fear,
and a mother saying ‘Run’.
So the eyes disappear into the night,
wolf mother left behind;
To be taken up by foreign hands,
to be slaughtered, butchered, hung;
To make a hero out of a farmer,
who was handy with a gun.
Matted fur settles against,
hot and haggard skin;
Pooling dread, a weighted head,
the prize has given in.
How thin the moon,
how a feeble shadow of that great white disk;
The sky hums with cricket’s heavy symphony,
sounding their somber sendoff;
And the heat of the day persists into night,
offering up its drowsy embrace;
The beetles and the fleas,
they settle in;
And the farmer’s face is the last thing she sees,
as the wolf softly surrenders.