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The University of Edinburgh's three creative writing prizes, open for 2024 submissions
Maria Henry: Fire-Bug

Maria Henry: Fire-Bug

Maria is an award winning poet, fiction writer and digital illustrator working out of Edinburgh. Originally from a small village in the Yorkshire Moors, plagued by Brontëesque cliches, she now resides amongst the loch-monsters of Scotland (though she is yet to see one in real life).

Her work focuses on environment and relationships—and what it may take to construct and destruct these things. She is often found writing about people living in isolated environments, and the changing structures that occur within these liminal spaces.

She is the first place winner of the Grierson Verse Prize 2021, and has had work published in several independent publications. She is currently working on her debut novel.

I have always been fascinated by natural imagery, and how it can—in a strange way— reflect the human experience so well. There’s a nice sense of earthly connection in how something such as the life of a tiny firefly could reflect how it feels to be a person, and I suppose, how you sometimes may feel trapped when you reach your ‘brightest’ point.

I wanted the poem to be a testament to growing up and testing yourself and your limits; the fear of being pushed down coupled with the excitement of new freedom and abilities.

Nature has a magical way of pulling us back to the basics, to the heart of experience, and I think that’s why I was so drawn to it here.


I am not a child anymore
so maybe it is time to leave

                or                                                             or

Under the serene
and brutal honestly
of a midsummer moon
these un-bloomed wings
will spread
and grow
and I will take
flight into the
sapphire sky
my light will glow
amber bright
and I will find
my place
up high
the silver stars
and bleed my
into the black
I will be trapped within
a grandmas old jam jar
where my light will dim
as the lid tightens
and the air becomes
as a child tries
to keep me
as a night-light
to protect them
from the
eerie creatures
that loom in the
soulless corners
of their
I will remain here
in the woods
but free
amongst the
and heather
and I will
light up
my tiny corner
of the world
where nobody
dares to go
and nobody will
ever know
that I glowed
at all



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