Jessica Fear from First Story explains why they chose to share the poem ‘Drifted Away, Together’ by Jacob Hill who took part in their creative-writing programme.
The theme of choice is deliciously broad. It is, of course, something we generally take to be positive: more choices are good, fewer choices are bad. Choice is freedom. Choice is autonomy. But what about choices you’ve already made? We know not every choice is good. What about the bad choices you’ve already made? The kind you wish you could remake, perhaps because they failed to make you freer or happier.
This is what inspired us to feature Jacob Hill’s sensational poem ‘Drifted Away, Together’ from a bank of thousands of beautiful poems by First Story young writers aged 11-18. The poem is evocative and raw, picking away at the terse rancour a couple feels as their once-loving relationship spirals into nothingness. And yet what is so touching about this poem is how Jacob also conveys the love this couple have for one another which they are too scared, angry, or alienated to admit, each – it seems – wishing the other would call a ceasefire.
Our activity, based around Jacob’s poem, has writers reflecting on what choices they wish they could go back and change, and on what different choices they would have made. It guides them to weave together the past with the conditional in a blend of real and retrospective choices.
It’s wonderful to see such complex and nuanced poetry being produced by young people. Often, we don’t give them enough credit for their emotional depth, range, and maturity, let alone their technical ability. First Story is all about investing in young people’s voices, their stories, and their experiences. We know that giving young people a safe space to write, free from judgement or curriculum pressures, results in staggeringly beautiful work. That is what our Young Writers’ Programme intends to do: to nurture these voices and to show them that writing, whatever their preferred form or style, is an invaluable tool for self-expression.
Jacob is a tremendous writer with an incredibly sharp eye for concrete detail and a feather-light touch when it comes to imagery and metaphor. It felt appropriate to honour this stunning example of his personal style on National Poetry Day and First Story are so proud to have his poem representing the work we do. We hope you enjoy reading his fantastic poem and feel compelled to then submerge yourselves in the catharsis of the associated activity.
You can find First Story's free resource for National Poetry Day HERE.
Jess is responsible for First Story's work across East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. Based in Hull, she liaises with schools and writers in the region to ensure the First Story residencies run smoothly. Passionate about developing new writing talent, Jess hosts creative writing events across the region. A former English teacher, she also oversees First Story’s resources for schools and national writing competitions.