In response to these troubled times, The Oxford Blue culture team has started a new creative writing project: ‘CREATIVITY IN CRISIS: a writing collective’.

Here are some of our favourites from the work we received, illustrated by Fred Seddon.

Virus – Joy Hunter 

Things are changing fast


And we’re waiting, but not sure what for

And we’re grasping at the air

For something less

Or something more

Loss and loss and loss,

Gain and gain and gain

Mad world goes mad

And asks us to stay sane

For now, we cocoon ourselves

And before we can unfurl

We stop to think new thoughts to fit

A brave new world.

To stop a river –  Mattie O’Callaghan

The light tickles the water as it breaks apart

it giggles and laughs, holds shadows of a start

a hope in its flow

When it just wishes to curl under the bridge

desperately wanting

the banks to merge

the bed to kiss the surface

yet the more it fights it

the more we’ll be submerged

How to accept

now living in a valley

trapped by time

sent back to the source

no longer knowing

if its mouth will open

or it will have to

take a different course

Its channel now empty

consumed by troughs of remorse

Yet the crests still exist

and to settle in a lake

to save the sea

will be perfectly ok

for the drought might stay

and the drought will kill

but we can be fine

if we stop the river

and shower all

our love online.

The House – Joseph Geldman

A weird piece about a weirder house.

Consider the house: 

You’d best start making it your own because it’s where you’ll be spending awhile. Though perhaps you should not worry too much. It’s a comfortable house, a two-upstairs-two-downstairs, with some rather pleasing period features. The banisters on the stairs, for example, are polished walnut. You will have the luxury of polishing them a lot, and that is a good thing, because if you are living in this house longtime, why live with unwanted guests: like spiders, or dust, or small children?

In the back, through the period arch, there is a kitchen, where you’ll be spending awhile. Whoever was here last has left the cupboards well-stocked. The stove is a perfectly vintage-able piece, a few decades old. There is a crack in the worktop but it is more comely than anything: you do not worry, you cannot imagine gas seeping through it, filling up your house and taking your space. There is a larder, too, in the back. Your provisions are arranged in a comfortingly medieval fashion: a big hunk of ham is strung up with bunched sage and there is a lot of green tea. We have many beans: kidney, Borlotti – and does that say Montesorri? Why not make green beans and ham?

The front parlour: you’ll be spending a while there, too. I say front parlour, but there is no back parlour, so it is really just a thing we put in the property brochure to make it sound more desirable. There is a sofa but it is covered because of all the dust, and it looks weird and lumpy anyway; maybe there are people inside it? There is no television because that will rot your brain. Instead, there are books which are good for the soul. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is such a book. Lolita is another. We have many volumes, so you can sit down with a friend and read into the small hours, except you cannot, because there are no chairs. But maybe you could uncover the sofa, and sit there?

If you are tired, go upstairs. There are four bedrooms, but three of them belong to the ghosts. Please do not disturb the ghosts, as they are very old. To make sure you do not, we have helpfully hung blood-coloured tarpaulins over the doorways and have installed radios behind them to play the sounds of ghastly moaning (you can find this on Spotify). You can turn these off if you want to, but then how will you explain the howling? 

In one of the bedrooms, in a drawer marked “OPPORTUNITY”, you will find a key so that you can leave. But why would you want to leave?

(There is an attic, too. You will not be spending awhile there, unless it is the last while. Please do not go into the attic.)

Lost in Thought – Theadora Foster

Yawn headache tired

is he angry with me

shadow on the wall

coat hanger bamboo

gripping the table leg

it shudders

what time is it

a clock plastic sequins

a girl with dark hair

sitting on the grass

daises lighting cigarette

wind in her hair

rocking back on a chair

staring into space

his glasses like square books

serial killer rash on neck

metal poppers pain in toes

sound of the clock what

time is it there is it hot

how many clothes is she wearing

insect bite on collar bone

dog’s bone fish bone human bones

archeology Pompei mummies

a word association game

posters wood and itch

is he angry I heard him slam

the door and play music loud.

Moon amongst Clouds – Klara Zhao 

The moon hung over an empty town that night. And it was a full moon, too, glowing brighter than ever in a sky free of dissipated human waste and the accumulated fumes of dogged cars chasing each other about during the day. Yet it was not so much the moon itself as the clouds that framed it, which instilled a strangely mystical element into the scene. 

From a distance, as one wandered in the middle of the empty roads of the silent town, there seemed to be a curious, wispy glow – so fibrous that it appeared almost tangible – being emitted from somewhere behind the spires of the old, limestone edifices. These glowed, too, vaguely in the moonlight, and still more in the sleepy orange light of the lonely street lamps standing nearby. But let us turn our attention back to the clouds.

This curious, pearly ray of light in the night sky, too fine and freely formed to be anything with a definite origin, revealed itself at the end of a narrow lane to be a perfectly situated patch of cloudwork. It was a single stroke of Cirrus fibratus, just to the left of the moon, so that it projected its light in the manner of a curtain call, a companion signaling to the night sky that the show of the evening was to begin. And it was, indeed, quite a show. A fine veil of Cirrostratus nebulosus was born over the visage of the moon, yet rather than obscuring it, the delicate glow of light was in fact projected further, its pearly sheen exaggerated and overshadowing even the sharpest winks from Venus. It was a strangely affecting scene, as the moon hovered above the stone eagle, occasionally catching the eye of the buds that peeped out from behind the new sprouts, which grew along the worn walls, somehow still so brightly green even in the darkness of the night. 

There was surely not a single another breathing soul in the town that night. No conscious human eye for miles; no wandering mind, even. There were only the blackbirds in the shadows, singing to the moon their seasonal hymn. Their voices ripe from daytime concerts, the notes echoed into the silent night with a sense of profound intimacy that erased all the world from one’s mind. In that moment, the universe revolved around the blackbird’s song, which the moon regarded in quiet contemplation. 

An hour later, somewhere above the meadows, the moon could be seen perching atop a fair Cirrocumulus lenticularis. Having made a resting bed for itself, the night ambled on in contented ignorance of the myriad unhappy lives that plowed on below. But this was also the case for all the eyes who followed the journey of the moon and the stars that evening, or any evening, and listened to the narratives dictated by our cloud companions. For who could remember, as the mind wanders into the heavens, the wretched realities that taint our most distant fantasies?

If you wish to be published in next week’s edition, submit your work to the link below.

Gaia Clark Nevola

Gaia Clark Nevola (she/ they) was the Senior Editor for Culture from June 2020 to March 2021 and is now the paper's welfare officer and a member of the board. She is in her second year studying English at St. Catz where they are also LGBTQ+ welfare rep. Gaia is the Bi Rep on the SU LGBTQ+ Campaign committee and sometimes does costumes for student theatre. She is the proud owner of a questionable mullet and enjoys telling people that she's actually half Italian, as though that constitutes having...