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A Nescot student who started writing poetry after being inspired by his college English teacher is having his work published in a national anthology.

Elisha Mason, who is studying for a resit in his GCSE alongside his full-time Level 1 qualification in Carpentry and Joinery, shared his first-ever poem with his English teachers Melissa Parke and Johanna Curniffe.

They were so impressed with his work that they suggested he enter it into the Young Writer’s Competition, and it will appear in a nationally-published anthology this spring.

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard my poem was being published,” Elisha said. “It’s proof that I have something worth saying.”

Elisha said his poem, An Oni’s Lotus, represents his journey of self-discovery, including a growing sense of confidence and an inner stillness, and a shrinking interest in others’ perception of him.

He drew on East Asian mythology for the title – an oni is a demon in Japanese folklore, and a lotus symbolises rebirth – and was inspired by the style of poets William Blake and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Elisha said he experienced and witnessed a lot of violence as a child, and as he got older he started to get into fights and was ‘constantly’ in trouble at school.

“My childhood made me feel angry and reckless, and I had no sense of self-control,” he said. “Fighting was the only way I could express how I was feeling.

“As I got older I started to realise that I was angry because I was trying to fit in, and because I felt rejected by everyone around me, and the whole of society.”

Elisha reconnected with his father, a carpenter, and his youth worker introduced him to the martial art of Muay Thai, which he now practices at the elite SN Combat Academy.

He is hoping to become a professional fighter one day, but he is also training as a carpenter in order to have a trade. He has also stepped up to be a course representative at college.

Elisha said he now feels able to channel his feelings, and that his new self-confidence and inner peace means he doesn’t need to seek validation from others.

“I wrote in the poem about how I’m not seeking acceptance any more, and that’s because I believe in myself, because I know now that I’m enough,” he added.

“Doing my English GCSE again at Nescot has been a blessing in disguise, because it’s made poetry accessible to someone like me.

“It’s given me a way to express myself in words that I didn’t think I’d ever have. I’m really grateful to my teachers.”

Felicity Fletcher, Head of Maths and English at Nescot, said the whole department was proud of Elisha’s success.

“To have the first thing you ever write be published nationally shows what talent Elisha has,” Felicity said. “We’re really proud of him, and we’re looking forward to seeing where he goes from here.”

Nescot offers English and Maths courses for adults, including Functional Skills, GCSE, and English for Speakers of Other Languages. You can read more on our website here.