‘My First Story Experience’ by Henna Ravjibhai

This year has been a special one for First Story: it’s our ten year anniversary, we’ve just celebrated our second National Writing Day, and now we’ve been shortlisted for the National Lottery Awards!  That’s why, in this week’s Friday Story, we’re sharing a piece with you that captures the exciting and powerful journey First Story students take to find confidence in their voice and their stories.

Henna Ravjibhai has just participated in the First Story programme for her third year, and is a member of the First Story group led by Nick Toczek at Appleton Academy in Bradford. Ordinarily, the group of students First Story works with in a school changes each year. At Appleton Academy, several students who have already participated have returned to the group to mentor their peers. The group’s new anthology, referred to in Henna’s poem as ‘Unknown’, is now available to pre-order here. It’s called The Key to a Thousand Worlds.

‘My First Story Experience’ by Henna Ravjibhai

Year 9:
Walking into the room,
Hands shaking, lips trembling, pen: not writing.
Stuffing biscuits into my face,
Mesmerised by Nick’s magic tricks.
My thoughts were like clockwork
But the cogs didn’t seem to fit.
The words threw onto the page, angry and misplaced
Images of glass cages, infinite boxes and snow globes.
“My Head is a Universe”
My illustrations flowed through my pencil, creating the front page.
Triumphant, I start again!

Year 10:
Walking into the room,
Hands not shaking, lips start moving and pen slowly writing.
More biscuits stuffing in my face
And now waiting for Nick to come… again
My thoughts trickling, leaking onto the page.
Poetry of rollercoasters, gingerbread men and refugees.
“Tide In, Tide Out”
Illustrations scattered like confetti on the page.
Lumb Bank: a factory of ideas.
My imagination: bursting out of the seams.
Another year.

Year 11:
Hands never shaking, lips constantly moving and pen always writing.
I own the biscuit tin!
But Nick isn’t late
My thoughts already busy with stories and poetry
A young ambassador: a dream
Book: Unknown
A journey yet to come,
A new chapter about to start
But memories never forgotten.

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