Published poets: QE boys victorious in their battle

Published poets: QE boys victorious in their battle

Two QE boys who entered an international competition have had their work published in a new book.

Jonathan Ho, of Year 12, and Matt Salomone, of Year 11, drew on inspiration from the Trojan War for the poems they entered in a multi-disciplinary art competition organised by the University of Leicester.

The book, entitled Artefact to Art, was launched at the Annual Conference of the Classics Association in Leicester. During the ceremony, both boys were singled out for a special mention by the organiser of the competition, Dr Naoise Mac Sweeney, who is the university’s Associate Professor in Ancient History.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “This is wonderful news; my congratulations go to Jonathan and Matt. It is very exciting to have a success such as this in our maturing Classics department. Such competitions provide excellent opportunities for our boys to display their creativity and express themselves.”

Jonathan and Matt received delegate passes, together with their parents, to attend the day, worth £240 per family. The boys, who are particularly keen on myths and have set up their own society at the School, also each received a copy of the book. The boys’ entries were judged by the poet, Dan Simpson, with whom they were photographed at the book launch. The prizes for the winners were given out by the well-known author of the Roman Mysteries series of historical novels for young people, Caroline Lawrence.

The competition, which attracted 200 entries from four continents, required participants to produce a piece of art, whether handicraft or poem, inspired by an ancient artefact. Both Jonathan and Matt chose the black-figured amphora by Exekias from 540 BC, which shows the two friends and heroes of the Trojan War, Ajax and Achilles, playing a board game in full armour.

The pair have recently been looking at Homer with QE’s visiting teacher of Ancient Greek, Dr Corinna Illingworth, who also attended the ceremony. “Every piece of work that was included in the book – whether poem or handicraft- was displayed in a beautifully arranged exhibition,” she said. “The variety of artworks on show was very impressive and it was moving to read what had inspired each young artist.”

She added that the competition, which was open to all pupils of secondary school age, gave the two boys the chance to explore art history, consider mythical literature and practise creative writing.

Jonathan said: “What inspired me was how battles and wars are always manipulated by a few men and this can be seen even in ancient history. One can compare a game of strategy to war.”

Jonathan’s poem:

As the pieces are place, the army is drawn up,
The players focused, the army terrified.
Dim lights are engulfed by darkness,
As the stars in the sky foretell the future.
Who will win? Who will lose?
Only the Fates can see.
As the ground rumbles with the feet of men,
Destiny is made.
However, only one side can emerge victorious,
The other drowned in sorrow and loss.
What will happen next?
Let’s see who wins, then I’ll tell you…

Matt was inspired by similar thoughts: “These famous generals are playing a game together – perhaps a strategic game like chess – which interestingly shows the similarities between a general in war and a leader in a game. There is a clear contrast in the piece, but it also reveals that these two have fewer differences than I first thought.”

Matt’s poem:

The nature of war and the thrill of games
Are no much unlike. A duet of heroes,
Armed and allied, set for any challenge,
Sitting down all the while. Finding peace in a board game.

“Four!” “Three!” Thus, the winner seems evident.
Yet the other does not back off. End has yet to arrive.

Looming, towering, threatening with helm and hand;

Nervously raised foot in response, but the battle ensues
Yet neither leader strikes. For their war attacks the psyche –

Victorious in spirit, soldiers in their fingers,
Strategy in mind, fate in fortune.
Perhaps soon they will take up their shields;
Until then, the real fight is in dice.

Open Evening is on Thursday 4 July (3pm to 7.30pm, last entry). Visit to hear from the Headmaster and go on a tour of the School. All are welcome. There is no need to book.