Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Kate Clanchy and Oxford Spires Academy students launch poetry anthology

Friday, 21 June 2013


Kate Clanchy, Oxford City Poet and Brookes Fellow, has been working with First Story at Oxford Spires Academy, and the remarkable anthology produced with students from the school was launched on the 7 June 2013. One of the students featured in the anthology, Room, is Azfa Ali, who recently won the £3,000 Tower Poetry Prize. Azfa’s poem, Origins, was chosen ahead of 613 others. In an article for First Story, Azfa wrote that:
Coming from a culturally rich background, I have many stories to tell. As a refugee, my mind is packed with memories of Africa, and being raised in Glasgow means I have a strong Scottish identity. However, the power that stories can have came to me through my father’s mesmerising ways of storytelling. I was captivated by his dramatic performances and almost poetical narrations that swayed my mind from the poverty I was witnessing outside my bedroom window, to a strange, more comfortable land that seemed oddly familiar. But this is where my stories, memories, pains, joys and laughter stayed. Locked in a box entitled the past, buried underneath the sand on a far-away land where my parents felt was a much safer place, and encouraged me to move forward, and pursue an academic, scientific career.
But when I joined First Story in 2011, our writer-in-residence Kate Clanchy had found the key to my past, and was willing to travel with me all the way to an unknown land to unlock my box of memories. You can watch her read her winning poem here, and read more about Azfa and her work on the Oxford Mail website here. Kate, who becomes Senior Research Fellow in Creative Writing in September, also brought Azfa and two of her fellow students, Esme Partridge and Asiya Mahdi, together for an event entitled Poets of the City at the Oxford Literary Festival in March, where she read from her new novel, Meeting the English, and then introduced the three poets.