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. Music 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
Walking, 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 (five) that we exist in continuity within A closed set, a circuit, self-sufficient, enough? 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: