Teachers, writers, poets

The ELT e-Reading Group has been running for two years now and I thought that a very good way to celebrate it, and perhaps bring in more members,  would be to launch a writing competition where our teacher-members could use their imagination to write their own short stories and poems. I think it was a great success. We had a very good number of submissions from everywhere around the world and also from the UK.

One of the most immediate reactions I received when the results were announced was a comment from a friend who seriously questioned the fact that there as a native-speaker among the selected ones. I could understand the point if the main objective of the  initiative were to empower non-native speakers of English to write poetry in the target language; but it is not. The main aim of the publication is to give the reader group members a place to share their creative writing.

I have always made a point that anyone who was a group member could participate – I make no sort of discrimination at all – not even positive ones. It does not matter to me the group members’ nationality, race, gender, age, first language or professional background. In the group we are all equal – we are all ELT professionals that have equal rights to voice our opinions, and, therefore, to participate in the group’s initiatives. Of course, if the person was an experienced fiction writer or poet with various publications, we would have to consider a special category, but that definitely was not the case.

I believe my friend was, with the best of intentions, being protective of non-native speakers; however,  it seems to me that behind the reaction there is also a certain assumption that native-speakers are naturally better writers than non-native speakers; who, therefore,  should be given  a certain advantage.  I am afraid I cannot agree with it as well all know quite well that being a native-speaker of a language – of any language – does not intrinsically makes you a prose writer or a poet! We had a small number of English native-speakers submitting their work and just one  was selected,  for the sheer quality of his writing.

The selected Short Stories (in no particular order) are:

  • ‘In the National Portrait Gallery’ by Peter Grundy (UK). Inspired by Doris Lessing’s ‘In the National Gallery’, from New Writing 15.
  • ‘On the Landing’ by Iris Devadason (India). Inspired by Anita Desai’s ‘The Landing’, from New Writing 15.
  • ‘The Other Side of the Coin’ by Sam Down (Finland). Inspired by Melvin Burgess’ Billy Elliot, extract publish at BritLit.

The selected Poems (in no particular order) are:

  • ‘Scratchy’ by Miriam Mascaras (Martinique)
  • ‘Sonnet 6/11 – On True Lust’ by Sundaresh Savandhi (India)
  • ‘At the bus stops’ by Francisco Langa (Mozambique)

Special category (previously published on WordPowered):

  • ‘This is my poem which I feel is no longer mine’ by Mostafa Mouhibe (Morocco)

Due to the number of submissions organizers are not able to contact personally the writers of non-selected texts, but we would like to thank everyone for their submissions.

Congratulations to the selected short story writers and poets!