Poetry Prizes for SHS girls

Congratulations to two SHS students on winning national poetry prizes!

Sacha Eyles-Owen is a winner of the 2016 Simon Powell Poetry Prize, with her wonderful poem ‘The March‘.

The March

Dripping in sunlight, we marched down the leafy lanes,

Our black thoughts mirroring our sombre dress,

Rumpelstiltskin had been busy, spinning freckles and speckles

Of gold onto the mahogany wood.


Down the hushed lanes, we marched. The chest, cheetah-skinned

In dappled sunlight, was cold, and too empty

With assumptions and expectations of the worst kind:

Echoes of now impossible futures.


Through the eerie lanes, we marched, until the path

Delivered us to a pointed stone building. Where,

Upon laying the little box to rest, the bearers nursed

Tender shoulders, sore from their onerous task.


We marched down the dark lanes,

Our eyes brimming like dams:

Straining. For we too must carry the burden

Of a light blown out before it was lit.


We stand shaded from the sunlight

In the shadow of a solitary oak

And we all ache from accompanying

her on her brief journey, from lust to dust.


But none are as inconsolable as she,

Who carried her from first buds to first snow.

For although she may be tiny,

The smallest coffins are the heaviest to bear.


Alice West, as well as winning the TS Eliot Prize for her poem ‘Deep Lane’, has won the Basil Bunting Prize for Young Poets. Alice traveled to the Newcastle Centre for Literary Arts to collect her award, where she met the judges and read for the appreciative crowd her winning poem ‘10 ways to crack an egg‘.

10 ways to crack an egg

With our smallest hands it ends like this:
Crumpled, a bewildered face, sticky fingers
Running from a height, from a hand it’s too easy to drop and –
We know what follows.

Or subtler:
The spilling of a shard
Like grit between teeth-on-teeth,
Stung. Wingeing, fate-kissed.

Or bowl-smacker, the orthodox
Spanks child to bleed potential and she grows
Somewhat, the rest discarded – still exists.

Or the one-mitt-smashers
Smugly brandish forefinger and thumb and one brutal palm
To tear open the shell,
Freeing only egg-juice, all the splintered intact;
Their one-handed wonder, godlike –
Neatly scruffy, like an omelette.

Or prod-and-pull, separate them,
A cup in each hand and a spillage of milky tears
Is a child between lives, bobbing,

Or the thrown-in-from-chilled,
Shocked in blazing waters, pop
Well, they had little chance.

Or the boiled egg, successful:
Hard –
Done by, battered and peeled, cut vertical,
A pear-drop womb,
Or soft –
Tickled, levered up at the crux,
Like an egghead, I once thought: unhinge me, unload me,
But it’s not that simple.

And I, pinpricked, head and tail,
Breath through me, not mine
Lips to my coral bones, blow
And daughter when I die make me an eggshell mosaic –

Congratulations to both girls!

The end of “To Kill a Mockingbird” as a GCSE text

Hello everybody!

In this month’s blog I am going to be going all literary on you to talk about what I have gained from the great novel To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee! If you have not read the novel yet (why not?), I highly encourage you to read it. It’s one of the greatest ever!

Although it is a compulsory to read this book at school, I have LOVED reading it. To Kill A Mockingbird is not only compelling and emotive, but it is also funny (always a bonus) as it is told in the voice – and from – the perspective of a young girl called Scout, the protagonist.

Throughout the novel we are able to see through Scout’s eyes. We watch her grow up and see how she deals with all kinds of situations. We gain an understanding of what life is like for her in small-town America in the Thirties, what she thinks about racism and prejudice – a recurring motif in the novel. I got a clearer idea how children are conditioned by their parents regarding their attitudes towards racism and prejudice. This is highlighted especially when Scout is at school and the children make fun of Atticus (her father) because he is a lawyer defending Tom Robinson, a member of the black community. At such a young age, it’s doubtful the children would have views of their own on racism, nor really understand what it is, but their parents’ views have influenced theirs.

I also learnt about the racism that is not only heavily evident in Maycomb (where the novel is set) but also across all the southern states of America. We learn about the Jim Crow laws and the idea of the white and black communities being separate, but equal. This idea is visibly untrue as the black and white communities have segregated schools and different living standards. We are also able to recognize that the most cruel and vulgar people from the white community are still seen as superior to the black community and have better living standards. This is regardless of how kind or caring somebody may be from the black community. Superiority in town and in society depends on the colour of your skin. Some people, of course, may argue this is still the case in some parts of the world!

Finally, the most important lesson I’ve learnt is to ‘walk in somebody else’s shoes’. This is a key quote from To Kill A Mockingbird and it means that you should always consider situations from different perspectives. This is not only relevant when considering the hardship and oppression of 1930s America, but also to many situations faced in society today.

So, folks, I’m going to leave you with that thought. It’s a bit ‘heavy’, I know, but in my view, it’s worth considering.

Daisy Adams, 11C

Alice wins T S Eliot Poetry Prize

Many congratulations go to Year 13 student Alice West who has won the prestigious T S Eliot Poetry Prize for her wonderful poem Deep Lane. 

Deep Lane by Alice West


I wrote a letter this morning

to Chasm, Back Garden, and childishly dreamed

it rode into the core of Earth’s palpitations where I could see it no longer.


The hole, eight inches wide, still stands

among other newer vessels, the pulse of the heart in my chest.

I never knew where it led –


And once we brandished a twig

to probe, I suppose in curiosity

(I have always been determinedly curious,

popping questions like grapes swallowed whole).


There was always something and nothing in the hole

and when it stirred I would shriek and run into the house,

insides leaping to dizziness, cascading –


I remember making my own decrepit tunnels in sand dunes, running

my hands through the crumbling channels,

and later eating sandwiches with feet buried.


My mother said I was a nightmare

as she scrubbed my scalp bleeding brown, after I learnt

that chasing rabbits down rabbit holes

belongs only in stories.


I still remember the taste, wet grit beneath bitten fingernails,

wide eyes gazing into midnight earth, lost inside the grins without a face

who never knew why rabbit’s hollow was so impenetrably real,

and always dreamed of where it might lead.


Welcome to the Surbiton Archive


“As all historians know, the past is a great darkness, and filled with echoes.”

– Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

All too often, history records the “big stuff” whilst the small details that give us the feel and flavour of an era are lost to time. To make sure we record our own “small stuff,” the Surbiton Archive is a new space created to preserve our students’ observations of the world around them so that future generations of Surbiton pupils can understand a little more of what it was like to live in another age.

Selection for the Archive has been highly competitive and only the very best pieces of writing have been included.  Make yourself a cup of tea, sit back and immerse yourself in our students’ observations about the world in 2014.