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Campion student has award winning poetry read out at Chatham House

Campion student has award winning poetry read out at Chatham House


Year 13 Campion student, Jess Richardson, was invited to the Centre for International Affairs, Chatham House, on Tuesday 23 October, to an event organised by Lloyds Banking Group to promote cultural diversity during Black History Month. Jess had won a national poetry competition set by the bank and Warwick University, on the theme of Colonial Hangover.

Professor Matthew Watson was impressed by her poem and wrote this review: This is a massively impressive entry, where Jess shows great perception in linking the past to the present and bringing the Colonial Hangover alive in an impassioned plea for imperial excesses to no longer simply be swept under the carpet.  She has activated a political voice from deep inside her to make a claim regarding recognition and even possibly restorative justice.  As a consequence, this is a hugely powerful piece of work.

Her poem, The History of the Empire is a Modern-day Reality, was inspired by the recent problems surrounding the Windrush generation and the barriers some of them experienced getting a British passports. You can read the poem at the end of this webpage, here is a quote: 

“After all, the highest position in each Commonwealth realm is held by the monarch

Whose stolen crown jewels are as red

As the blood in order to gain them, has been shed

And what about the Windrush generation?

First we stole their ancestors from Africa and inserted them into the Caribbean as slaves

To make profits for our great kingdom – a kingdom of knaves”

 Jess received a prize of £250 and had quotes from her poem read out, on the stage at Chatham House, in front of an invited audience.


The History of the Empire is a Modern-day Reality

There’s an ongoing debate about whether the British Empire was a force for good or ill

Alas, the Empire, a significant part of our history, isn’t on the curriculum. Still.

But let me tell you now

The British Empire was nothing grand or something to be proud of

Imperialism is nothing to be proud of

The largest empire by landmass was built on the theft of land, murder, and other crimes against humanity

It was built by the hands of monstrosity – hidden under so-called civilized authorities and faces

Which excused the loss of lives in the name of God’s good graces?

It was built on the backs of slaves

Many of whom, were laid down to rest without graves

Jamaica, Australia, Canada, India, Burma..

The list goes on and on.

These countries ‘fell’ under British rule

Some think that the British Empire is something that can be left in the past

When I’m confronted with this ignorance, I am aghast

For the British Empire has left its mark

After all, the highest position in each Commonwealth realm is held by the monarch

Whose stolen crown jewels are as red

As the blood in order to gain them, has been shed

And what about the Windrush generation?

First we stole their ancestors from Africa and inserted them into the Caribbean as slaves

To make profits for our great kingdom – a kingdom of knaves

Migrants who were granted citizenship because of their connection to the Empire, in a time when Britain had “opened” its doors

Now those people who we are indebted to, have been at risk of deportation because of a so-called change in ‘laws’

Their ancestors had been slaves who were often laid to rest without graves

The Empire might have well said we want your land, your crops, all for the Empire of knaves

Now the Home Office ‘forgot’ about this past and wished to grab these British citizens and spew them out as if to say,

“You were never welcome anyway”

First we borrowed your ancestors, took them as slaves, to make us knaves wealthy

Who ignored their citizens cries of, this must be a mistake - help me

When eyes were on the Home Office they knew they had to flee

For not everyone has forgotten our rich, bloody and bizarre history

Those in government must not use ‘paperwork’ as some kind of excuse

They, alongside others who have forgotten our history should be accused

Crichton said, “If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You’re a leaf that doesn’t know it’s part of a tree”

It isn’t that simple to turn our backs on our sometimes horrific history

Because it is always there on the streets, within family stories…

In all of the Empire’s ‘bloody glory’

The history of the Empire is a present one

A truth that we are surrounded by

A ‘Colonial Hangover’ that we must always keep in mind.



Campion School
Sydenham Drive
Leamington Spa
Warwickshire
CV31 1QH
United Kingdom

Tel: 01926 743200


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