Here at Trinity we are delighted to launch The Litmus Creative Writing Project 2023 – an opportunity for year 9-11 students currently attending state school (or on a full scholarship to a fee-paying school) in the UK to submit a short piece of writing of under 500 words in poetry, prose or any other format (including artwork) based around a theme for publication.

In this its fourth year we’re following on from the first three years’ brilliant response to the themes of ‘in common’ , ‘the green light’ and ‘the writing on the wall‘, which saw us receive hundreds of creative, original submissions from young people all over the UK, with a new prompt announced by acclaimed author Ali Smith (which you can discover below).

This Year’s Theme: Over the Border

Are you a writer? Do you want to write? If YES: good. Continue reading this message.

Are you a student in year 9, 10 or 11 and interested in writing – fiction, or non-fiction, or poetry, or maybe graphic novel writing, or blog writing, or in writing and storytelling in any shape or form you want?

If NO, then this invite isn’t for you. Pass it on to someone who wants to write and would like to be published.

What comes into your head when you hear or read or think about the phrase over the border?

What are borders for? Do they exist so that we can cross them? Or are they for stopping people (and things) crossing, at least without being checked and monitored – and if so, why is that?

Who gets to cross them and who doesn’t?

Why do we have borders? Do they decide where a country begins and ends? Why are borders almost always contentious? Why, right now, do they seem more contentious than ever? And are they dividing lines or are they thresholds?

In human history borders and thresholds have long been understood to be places charged with great energy, even magic, which is why people used to get married standing on the thresholds of houses or churches.

What if, instead of thinking a border meant the place where something ends and divides, we thought of borders as places where two different things come together and something bigger, something more, comes about because of this meeting?

The Litmus is a writing initiative for UK-wide school students. We’re looking for student writing or artwork of any and every sort, and this year we’re inviting submissions up to 500 words which consider the phrase over the border in any way you like.

Make something of it. Send us what you write or make, we’ll publish it in our online magazine. We’ll also publish our favourite pieces in book form at the end of the school year. You’ll become part of a writing collective like no other, a collective that will act as a touchstone for readers interested in what your generation is doing, thinking and writing right now.

Write about what over the border means to you. We’ll be proud to publish what you write.

Be part of The Litmus.

Ali Smith


Want to be a part of The Litmus?

We welcome artwork and writing of up to 500 words around the theme ‘Over the border’, open to UK students between Year 9 and Year 11 currently studying at a non-fee paying school (or in receipt of a full scholarship). Deadline for entries is 26 July 2023.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to The Litmus this year. The deadline for submissions has now passed.

Email [email protected] with any questions, or to withdraw or change your submission.

Special Event

Year 9, 10 & 11 students are invited to a free event, held in conjunction with Cambridge Literary Festival, to consider this year’s theme, Over the Border. Novelists Bernardine Evaristo and Ali Smith will be joined by David Herd from Refugee Tales and Pious, a long-term contributor to the Refugee Tales project.

Fri 21 Apr 2023 | 11:00am – 12:30pm | Cambridge Union

This event is now full.


refugee tales