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 of the work we received, illustrated by Daisy Leeson.

Starlings – Peter Hurtubise

‘My faith in the future of literature rests on the knowledge that there are things that only literature, with its particular capacities, can give.’

Italo Calvino
In mornings,
starlings laden with joy,
laden with song,
fly above the Louvre,
feeling the orange sheen
glint into its coming day.
Pont Neuf, creviced into shade,
opens slowly atop the glistening tide
like a yawning floret.
The barge drifts from blues,
from shadows, toward the
golden arrival of its warmth.
Cream-colored limestone sits speckled
in the cool belonging of flight, whilst the Seine
listens to the long, arching starlings sing.
Heavens awaken from lavender,
caressing beyond the mansard roofs
towards a simple cloud flaming
from the countless ripples of its gaze.
soars above us,
as a coming of one,
flying within gazes, carrying
aspirations, convincing us
to stare, to stand, to strive higher still.
Starlings move us.
They call us to remember
we do not write poems alone,
we search for them within
our shared and joyous flight.

Ode to The Student Kitchen – Luke Bateman 

Squabbles over the microwave
The Astonishing Disappearing Tea Towel
No one does the washing up
And the bin holds horrors most foul
Didn’t matter what ideas I was pitching
Never thought I’d miss the student kitchen
That one girl who always inspects your pans
Says, ‘Are these induction? Have you washed your hands?’
A freezer filled with junk no one remembers buying
Something blocks the drains, is three weeks past dying
Didn’t matter where I might be hitching
Never thought I’d miss the student kitchen
The maths nerd in the corner doing their daily sums
The whiteboard filled with messages and the smudge of dirty thumbs
The temptation of the bread knife when that one guy gets too close
Every single one of them, that entire bustling host
Now that I think of who I’m missing
No one wonder I crave that student kitchen

Trodden histories, and the gentleness of hidden moonbeams – Gaia Clark Nevola 

and through walking an articulation of movement suppressed
The viscosity of stasis and the resilience of its form; a jelly moved by wind. 
We are walking together, together our number 
The same number 
that we exist in continuity within 
A closed set, a circuit, self-sufficient, 
And so walking, today on moorland, over hill and under dale 
But shadowed by creeping thoughts of staying still. 
But creeping also, like the suspicion of bog under crusted grass,
A terrible sense of movement, of adventure and singularity. 
We walk together and the weather-beaten, raw and trodden-upon time is all around us,
or maybe just this hour, 
or the moment it takes for the eye to blink away it’s perfect microcosm of ocean. 
Last summer, or at some point in a time before 
I read about how time was spatial 
About how walking, or moving generally, was across ages as well as miles. 
But today I know that we do not traverse eternities, and thank God 
(or thank something at least) 
For not being made to, to walk and not have to leave footprints in the soft earth of history. 
None the less, land rises and meets my eyes as words, 
Eager to shape its contours obliquely into an articulation of histories I am now part of.
On this moor, these barren hills of littered lifelessness 
Remain just boulders, marked as settlement or Cairn 
But really just the shells of others come before 
Who believed also, they would endure
Remain impervious to nature, time, disease  
And last on as tethering points, as bridges to the land through flowing ages. 
But really I have lost them totally, 
Or maybe, and not conversely, 
they lost me.
Of course, weathered boulders can remain, endure totemic 
But names, and bodies, and the binding network of family or kin 
Is fragile,
A marsh flower wilted at an early frost 
Lost early, in the absence of a gentle bell jar to protect it. 
So how to walk past settlement without the sacrilege of trampled memory?
Or worse, to see too much of self, in lonely blocks of lichen-membraned granite. 
In the unchanging coating of a March sun I a catch sight of the 3 o’clock moon 
And I hear it whisper to me, if I listen,
Of a binding promise of all things in slippery mutation and change,
Of cycles, 
of cycles inscribed into the very footnotes of exploding stars,
Into granite boulders or the wings of honey-bees, or the words of children as they play. 
And in the reflection of this moonlight, 
A light which I had trampled over fearfully in all this walking,
I see illuminated the straggled tree at the side of my path, 
Grown distorted in asymmetry as it shoulders the weight of years of wind
And days endured in awful solitude, 
And there beneath it, a gentle breath of swaying marsh flowers, 
Blooming in the sun. 

The Phantom – Jonathan Topaz

The cities of Europe are eerily quiet 
No one today would dare to deny it 

The streets, once filled with chatter and bustle
 Are silent enough you can hear the leaves rustle 

The people, for now, at home they will stay
 Until mighty leaders will otherwise say 

And yet after all this is hardly surprising 
When a phantom is loose, and its victims are rising 

Its true shape and form on the victim depend 
For the young it is pain, for the old itss the end 

In the air we can feel it attack and infect
 As more and more suffer its haunting effect 

The masks and the gel will not keep you safer 
And neither will mountains of white toilet paper
And despite everything you may have seen 
The phantom will even bypass quarantine 

No cough will betray it, do not be mistaken 
But reading the news may help it awaken 

Through phones and computers the phantom is spread 
For the phantom is fear, and the host is our head. 

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...