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2019 - 20

Where I'm From

Seventy-five years ago, in the summer of 1945, the people of Britain were starting to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of World War II and our forebears – pupils and staff at Wilson’s School – planned a return to normal school life. For five years, the entire school had been relocated to a camp in the country near Horsham. This had been an extraordinary upheaval demanding considerable courage and fortitude on everybody’s part. Upon the return to the school buildings in Camberwell, the headmaster, John Sutton Lee, noted: “this enterprise which began as an escape from bombs in London has become a valuable social and educational experiment which is not unlikely to influence English education in the future”.
We are currently experiencing disruption of an altogether different kind, but there is no doubt that an ‘educational experiment’ is currently taking place that will have lasting repercussions. The mental health and wellbeing of pupils while they have been away has been in the forefront of our minds – as has the strategy for supporting them when they return. Teachers have started to think proactively about what the period of ‘recovery’ might look like when pupils can eventually start to return to school. Much has been written about children’s experience of ‘loss’ during this period (loss of routine and structure, loss of freedom, loss of opportunity and social life) and we are committed to providing the best possible support for the ‘recovery’ period that must follow. In the meantime, we know that it’s crucial to ensure that our teaching provides scope for reassurance and praise, and remind each and every pupil that they still belong in this school community.
In the last update here, we noted that we appreciate more than ever what our pupils and staff contribute to our school while the school buildings are so eerily quiet. Nonetheless, physical absence has not precluded effective communication and teachers have taken great pleasure in reviewing pupils’ work and enjoying the other fruits of their creativity. Each week, the English Department has published an anthology of Wilson’s pupils’ poems produced during the lockdown. This week, pupils wrote autobiographical poems with the title “Where I’m From” and it generated the biggest response yet. We have been very moved to be reminded of the pride that pupils have in their identity, their school, family, friends and culture – all of which is evident in the poems.
The DT department, supported by volunteers from across the staff, has continued to make visors which are being used in local hospitals, special schools, GP surgeries, pharmacies and hospices.  If you have any acetate sheets that you are able to donate to the department in order that we can make more, please get in touch!

Where I'm from

by K.P. (7H)
I am from a beautiful land of wonders,
from a place of diversity.
I am from the chemicals which make up your medicine.
(Transparent, spine-tickling,
it tasted like lemon juice.)
I am from the lotus,
the Azadirachta indica
whose green vines I remember
as if it were my possession.

I am from Jamun and mind-controlled wheelchair,
    from Kiran and Jyothi.
I am from the cricketers
    and the marketers,
sit up and quieten down
I am from Aum
       with hands pressed together
        and three verses I can say myself.

I am from Hyderabad and Golconda Fort,
fried chicken and masala chai.
From the money my brother lost
to the wind
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.
On my shelf was a photo album
spilling old pictures.
a wave of lost happy faces
to drift above my nights.
I am from those momentary events
leaf-fall from the family tree.
Judge’s comment:
This poem is remarkable for its blend of specifics and abstraction. He uses his family’s stories very movingly in the final stanza, and the lingering image of “leaf-fall from the family tree” is beautiful. Well done – the work of a mature and sophisticated writer. 

Where I'm from

by I.R. (7G)
I’m from the dirty dishes,
From the green fairy soap, from the breadcrumbs,
I’m from the soil in my plant pots- coarse and night black,
I’m from the flushed chrysanthemums,
The hopeful snowdrop,
Which has a heart and soul like my very own.
I’m from a cart of laughter that runs through my blood,
From a bucket of crystal tears that stream down my face,
I’m from intelligent brains that persevere,
From many unknown fears that smother me in darkness.
I’m from unyielding concrete that lies beneath my feet,
From the pulpous sponge that cushions me when I fall,
I’m from the sweet aroma of the bakery underneath,
From the toxic malodour of the garbage that fills my nose with a pungency.
I’m from dexfenfluramine hydrochloride,
From capillaries and arteries filled with my raging blood.
I’m from my beating heart that lets me enjoy each moment,
From many pulsing veins in my body.
I’m from a nonchalant soul that glides up in the atmosphere,
From a light feather that flies high in the sky,
I’m from the air in this world,
From the cold wind that ruffles my hair.
Judge’s comment:
This poem is so remarkable in its combination of specifics and abstraction. The final image of the air suggests freedom and impermanence; a very philosophical way of seeing the world.

Where I'm from

by A.N. (8S)
I am from an island, far east from where I’m now                                  
Wherein culture and traditions are sacred as life.
Brought here by the thunder-roaring giant of the sky
Bathed in holy water in the Baptismal font
That welcomed me to the Christian world that I know so well.

I’m from the table, where the plates of rice never seem to stop
From breakfast to lunch, to dinner and the rest
Lucky a guest for every gathering is lavished with such intricate food.

I was from a nearby school, readied to learn.
From the fully enjoyed memories cherished with friends.

But I guess that’s all forgotten.

I emerge from my slumber woken in a different place
Where everyone wants to extinct the distinct-loooking
Chinky-eyed, brown-skinned little one that was me
A realisation that the classroom is my playground
While the playground is a battleground
From names, fights, betrayals and spite
From assertiveness, rudeness
And how I longed of my innocent past.

As those years passed and passed
From the days I sat in the dark,
As I watched chaos choreograph my young messy life
It would surely leave on me its mark.

But bygones be bygones, they say.
Let’s go forward a bit.

Here, now, I come from a place of gratitude
From my thanks to the people that helped me
Escape the past and live in the present
Here, now, I come with hope for the bright future.

From the sapling to the tree
I now come from this small community
A mind-challenging place, albeit, yet warm and welcoming
From the friends I have to my background of music
Pride I carry in for what I have, can and will do
“Not for oneself, but for all.”

Yet sometimes, I think and doubt myself
Once thrown out to the wider world
I can’t be sure of where I’m from
For I fall in-between the boundaries of East and west
God make me belong so that I can live my very best.

Judge’s comment:
This poem tells a fascinating story and it has been structured very carefully. I really like the bravery in acknowledging uncertainty at the end of the poem; it feels like a very modern journey and the image of him being “between the boundaries” at the end of the text, yet remaining certain of his onward path, is uplifting.

Where I'm from

by R.B. (7B)
I’m from blue lightsabres,
from ‘The force runs strong in your family’
from A galaxy far far away
I’m from Platform 9 ¾ and Ollivanders,
from ‘It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live’
I’m from words inside books and television
That burrow in my head.
I’m from markers, steadler pens and protractors,
From ink stained pages of spiral bound pads.
I’m from backwaters and mustard fields
And countryside walks and heaths
From cover drives of Virat Kohli and of Ben Stokes
And messy kits with cricket bat and gloves
From the warmth of Sunday roast dinners
And the bliss of biryani laden plates
I’m from ‘Thinking out loud’
And ‘Life in the fast lane’
I’m from my memory box
The folded cards, the treasured tickets
The walk to school badges
And ornament from my teacher for the Christmas tree.
I’m from the flow of the Ganga
and the riverbeds
I’m from the Thames
and boats bobbing on the canals
I’m from Gandhi and his thoughts
Truth, non-violence and equality
All for one, and one for all.
I’m from the hope, the joy,
the sorrow, the dread,
I’m from all the thoughts that live inside me,
I’m what I read, I’m what I hear,
Everything around me
Resides in me.

Where I'm from

by A.N. (7G)
I am from cherry bricks,
from grimy Nikes and maple trees.
I’m from the shattered stones,
cowering in the corner
of the back garden.
I am from homemade milk,
from Digestives and Walkers’ crisps.
I am from Evian bottles
becoming warm
in the summer months.
I’m from the digital clock,
thirteen minutes fast –
(it was never fixed!) in the living room;
from the tiny radio on the table,
which is as useful as shoes,
but is never used.
I am from the aroma
of grass in the falling rain.
I’m from the thrilling novels I read
of struggling children at their end;
dedicated, but knowing their efforts bear no fruit.
I am from the urge,
to help similar people.
I am from the sunrise,
as beautiful as gold.
I am from the light,
that purifies the darkness.

Not everywhere is like here

by S.S. (7D)
This is dedicated to all the refugees who have made a perilous journey
I am from a country where no one has limits
Where you can move where you heart is at
But not everywhere is like here
I am from a city where there is no violence
Where you can feel safe
But not everywhere is like here
I am from a town where there are beautiful parks
Where merry children play to their heart’s content
But not everywhere is like here
I am from a home where I am accepted for who I am
Where I can feel like myself
But not everywhere is like here

I was from a country where you were forced and had many limits
Where you could not do what you wanted to do
But not everywhere is like here
I was from a city where hatred, racism and violence was rife
Where you constantly fear death
But not everywhere is like here
I was from a town where there was constant curfew
Where kids imagine bombs to be fireworks
But not everywhere is like here
I am from a home where no one can feel like their own
Where soldiers would raid your belongings
But not everywhere is like here.

Where I'm from

by F.L. (7C)
I am from blue jazz and jawbreakers,
from arguments and fistfights,
to the world we call society.
I am from uphill,
where the wilderness lurks,
and the fauna come out to hunt.
I am from the bluebells and lilacs,
gooseberries and rhubarb,
which come ever so slowly
as the seasons begin to change.
I am from the grass
to the deserted peaks of the Himalayas.
I am from work and study,
but homeschooling to get used to
is a new world over the horizon.
I'm from poetry,
that we're studying
and analysing as the school years drones on.
I am from diversity and hardship,
which has shaped me today
to try a whole new thing
and things over yonder.
I am from a world we live in now,
Donald Trump, wars and covid-19,
but we will see in the future
what lies ahead.

Where I'm from

by B.X. (11H)
Where am I from? A simple question – my location, my identity, my past…
I am from London, a bustling city. Where faces flow seamlessly together, where perfume and pollution coagulate together. My feet have not sullied the streets in years.
I am from Faith. I have a cross memorabilia on the shelf. I fondly remember pine benches, smoothened by generations of touching. I no longer believe in miracles.
I am from curiosity, a love of knowledge, yet the passion is tempered by procrastination and sloth. This cardinal sin killed the cat. No satisfaction has brought it back.
I am from whitened walls surrounded by nurses the screams of a distressed infant subsumed in the wails of a relieved mother. The hospital is unremembered and unknown.
I am from dirty walls, yellowed by cigar smoke, the aroma of past tenants enriching the air. Flickering lights and damp ceilings. Half-forgotten, no town name to remind me.
I am from books and stories, words and phrases, squatting in dirty corridors, in dusty buses, on the trek home. A placeholder for something else. An entertaining, diverse yet unremarkable hobby.
Where am I from? A simple question – 
No answer in sight.
Judge’s comment:
He has used the question at the beginning as a springboard into a meditation. I particularly liked his final image of himself reading; the emphasis on physicality in the poem is important and I found the physical description of him reading original. Well done!

Where I'm from

by S.T. (10D)
[I am from nothing,
Just the sum of my surroundings,
All the little things
That came together - compounding.

I’m from the calming whirr of the computer
From the choir of birds outside the window
I’m from the glaring screens
From all the wondrous things I’ve seen

I’m from the nightmares that haunt me
Or the wistful dreams that inspire
From the passions that burn
Like a gentle campfire

It crackles and spits,
Never raging with full might,
But it nonetheless illuminates,
An otherwise pitch-black night

I’m from a lot of things
And I’m still something new]
Judge’s comment:
The use of brackets  was striking as it seemed to suggest hesitancy; yet the poem has a confident and measured tone, with a judicious use of imagery – particularly the campfire in the penultimate stanza.

So what am I?

by A.G. (11B)
I'm not just the Flat White
that I so quickly grab in the morning
to fuel myself
Nor am I the jumper
That I pull over my head on what I decide will be 
a lazy day
I'm not just the ink that
spills from my pen onto paper to create
timeless words and rhymes
Nor am I "Up the Bracket"
which spins round and round and round 
because I never stop
I'm not just the absence of time
in which I find myself 
all the time. 
"They told me I was everything"
that's a lie 
So what am I?

Where I'm from

by S.D. (9H)
I come from a place
Where the poor lie half naked on the streets
But still
In these circumstances
In this state
The will to live doesn’t wither and die
I’m from early morning kite fights
I’m from the festival of light
I’m from a place where cows are considered akin to gods
For they give more than they take
I’m from a small gully, in a small village in a large country
A piece of the puzzle
A leaf of the tree
A small sentence in the book that is our great nation.
I’m from late night roadside cricket
I’m from a muddy, often chaotic place
A place that I call home
I’m from a place of undeniable beauty, innocence and culture.
I’m from a place that dreams of life in “lundun” and “umrika”
Unaware of the blissfully peaceful life that they possess
I’m from a country called Hindustan
But where greetings vary from “salaam” to “sastriakal
However unity still blossoms regardless
A country of delightful contradictions
I’m from India.


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