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Bergvliet Pupil has way with words

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Bergvliet Pupil has way with words
A Grade 11 pupil from Bergvliet High, Triston Liebenberg, 16, entered the inaugural Paperight Young Writers Anthology competition and walked away with the top honours. 
“This was the first writing competition that I have entered, so I was very surprised when I heard that I had won,” Triston, who won the category for essay writing, said. 

High school pupils from all across South Africa submitted their original pieces in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho into one of four categories; short stories, essays, poetry and illustrations.

From over a thousand submissions, 65 young writers were selected to appear in the Anthology. Then, one overall winner in each category was selected by a panel of esteemed judges, including poet and academic Sarah Rowan, Dr Hedley Twidle of the UCT Department of English Language and Literature, Professor Russell Kaschula of Rhodes University’s School of Languages, and art curator Gabi Ngcobo.

“The Paperight Young Writers’ Anthology was conceived as a way for us to help spark a culture of writing in our country, in the places where it must be allowed to grow – our schools,” said Anthology editor Sibabalwe Oscar Masinyana, adding that the Anthology also tries to fulfill a wish of a learner who protested in 1976, by allowing learners to popularly express themselves in their own languages – a right that is still not adequately reflected in South African media or publishing. 

According to her father, Shane Liebenberg, Triston has a special gift. “She wrote the winning essay in two hours, putting life into perspective in a way I could never do,” he said, “I am very proud of my daughter and her accomplishments,” adding that she is already half way through writing a novel.

Speaking about her winning essay, titled “Reflections,” Triston said that she was encouraged by her English teacher, Elizabeth Van Niekerk, to write a piece for their schools on-line magazine, “The Mighty Pen.” “My teacher really liked what I wrote and so too did my mom. My mom thought it would be a good idea to enter the essay as a way to get exposure as a writer. The piece details the different stages of life, ending with reflections or life lessons,” Trsiton said.

Triston said that she was inspired by a fellow school-mate, Ashleigh Fawthrop, 17, to start reading and then to start writing. “Ashleigh is an inspiration to me because even though she is dyslexic and suffers from ADHD, she is busy writing her own book,” Triston said, adding that her favourite authors are LJ Smith and Rachel Mead, who both write about the supernatural. 

“I am glad that I won this competition because it has opened a door for me to start thinking about perhaps studying English after school so that I can become a journalist, or maybe write a book or two of my own,” Triston, whose other interests include photography and fashion, said. 

The Anthology features a foreword by award-winning writer Niq Mhlongo, author of Dog Eat Dog, After Tears, and, most recently, Way Back Home.  “Everyone has a story inside their heads,” Mhlongo writes in the Anthology. “But the challenge is how to get it out in a way that will make other people want to read them.”

The Young Writers’ Anthology was made available from the 10th of June through Paperight registered outlets and selected independent bookstores. To find your closest outlet, visit www.paperight.com/outlets. The Paperight Edition of the Anthology will cost approximately R60, depending on the printing charges of the individual outlet.

Words and images by Clinton Wittstock
Freelance writer and photographer
Article appeared in the Constantiaberg Bulletin

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