The first edition of English Alive was published in 1967, and it has been published every year since then. Approximately 70 pieces of poetry and prose of all sorts and about anything are selected for publication each year. Robin Malan was one of the founding editors in 1967, and, over the 50 years of its existence, has edited more than 20 editions. For the 2018 edition, there are two co-editors, Robin Malan and Twanji Kalula, with two assistant editors, Naeelah Lawrence and Sharon Sheldon. Any high school student is invited to submit one piece or a small number of pieces (a maximum of five), either independently or through their school. You can submit at any time of the year.
The closing date for submissions each year is 1 April (we allow for late-posted entries until 1 May).
Email your piece(s) in Times New Roman 12 pt to email@example.com . (Please don’t use other fonts or sizes, unless it is essential for the piece.)
Remember to put your name and school after each piece, i.e. below it. (We don’t need to know your age or Grade.) Publication is usually around mid-August each year.
We also invite students to submit artwork for consideration for the cover. Send this by email as a high-resolution 300 dpi jpg to firstname.lastname@example.org.
English Alive is not a competition: there are no cups or cheques handed out for ‘the best’ pieces of writing. Publication is the acknowledgement of writing of quality.
Many students who submitted to English Alive have since become professional published writers, e.g. the poet Jeremy Cronin (Former Deputy Minister of Public Works and Administration), the prose-writer Henrietta Rose-Innes (winner of the 2008 Caine Prize for African Writing), the dramatist Nadia Davids, the novelist Shaun Johnson (winner of the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize (Africa Region): Best Book), etc.
That’s amazing that 50 years have passed and the project continues. It’s a wonderful achievement. Speaking personally, the opportunity ‘English Alive’ presented to try to express myself in writing was a gift that has never gone away. With deep gratitude.
Funny thing about me and ‘English Alive’. I had a few things printed in the 1967 or 68 edition and the one that has endured – getting reruns in a couple of anniversary editions – is ironically one of the pieces that I’m least fond of, as it was just a scribble that I came up with in an exam, after finishing the paper with time to spare. But somehow it seems to keep striking chords. Weird. I’ve written many far more important things in my life since, but nothing that I can think of has ever been published and republished this often. Funny old world.
I have remained active in poetry. I had three poems published in 2015. I was a guest poet at the McGregor Poetry Festival.
After a long, blessed life, I still regard my publication in ‘English Alive’ as one of my greatest triumphs, especially at such an early age.
Good Heavens! I can't believe my poem is going to be republished! How nice that my poem from the past has a new life. I had forgotten all about it, until recently, when a friend from Cape Town, visiting me in London, told me proudly that her daughter’s poem had just been published in ‘English Alive’. It is wonderful to hear that the publication is still going, and that it is still a source of pride to be published in it. That is a great achievement, congratulations.
I am so grateful to ‘English Alive’ for preserving these fragments of my adolescence. ‘The plane’ was the first thing I ever wrote that seemed real and entirely my own. I worked on it in secrecy, and waited a long time before letting anyone see it. […] Was very proud to be in ‘English Alive’, both back then and now.
I’ve been keeping up to date with ‘English Alive’, getting a copy every year from my alma mater, so I remain a big fan.
‘English Alive’ was the first time I saw my writing in print and it certainly inspired me so that now, 15 years down the line, I hope to publish my first novel next year, 2018.
I cannot emphasise enough how much I am enjoying ‘English Alive 50’, and to say that it came at a time when I needed reminding that the work that I do has its roots in my very early days, particularly the lessons I learnt at school. I loved reading (and re-reading) these pieces, each one a poignant reminder of the energies and vision of youth and the power of the imagination. Thank you for including me.
I discovered my public-speaking skills and writing skills by chance when an educator threatened to give me detention if I didn’t give it a try.
Thank you very much. So glad to have been one of the students who contributed in the making of such literary history.
Your email takes me back to a time most cherished in my memories of high school. I loved writing then, and still do.
While my current writing is almost entirely academic, I have always been grateful for the encouragement and privilege of having had creative writing published.
The triumph of being published! I carried that copy of ‘English Alive’ around with me for months. I invented any excuse for it to come out of my bookbag. I still have it. It felt golden, seeing my work in print.
I still haven’t forgotten the flush of pride and sense of affirmation that I felt when seeing my poem ‘A farmer contemplates death’ in print. So a big thank you to ‘English Alive’.
I’m actually now making my living as a writer, and that was my first-ever publication. Thanks for getting the addiction going.
‘English Alive’ was the first place my work was published! – and now I edit a journal myself: ‘Literature and Medicine’.
A parcel arrived in the post today that swept me right back to my matric year in Rob Ferreira High School in the (then) sleepy village of White River. That year one of my poems was published in ‘English Alive’. It was a breakthrough for me, and I will never forget the sweet taste of being a ‘published’ writer.