Budding young writer Maria Munir recently made it through to the semi-finals of the Brit Writers’ Awards Unpublished 2010. The talented 15-year-old, who is currently in Year Ten at Watford Grammar School for Girls, was among 21,000 young people who submitted work for the awards.

Maria says: “I submitted a short story and a collection of three poems. Before this, I had never entered a national competition, so as you can tell, I was pretty surprised to learn that I have made it so far in the process.”

Maria, the daughter of Liberal Democrat vice chairman Mohammad Munir, says helping her dad out with leafleting and debating has improved her public speaking and given her the confidence to have a go at writing for this competition.

“We’re quite a political family. On Sundays we’ll be sitting down relaxing and something will arise and we’ll just start discussing it. If my mum makes a joke about something to do with the election for example Dad and myself get quite heated up.

“When I tell people I’m a public speaker they sometimes look at me in awe and shock because I’ve got quite a laidback attitude but I think we should be doing more to put public speaking into the curriculum in schools as it could make a big impact in the future to help pupils improve their confidence.”

Maria also had support from her school.

“I’ve had good marks for writing assignments and our English department encouraged me and I went on a creative writing masterclass at Queens School last summer where we studied various horror stories, looked at extracts and were encouraged to write our own.

“What I quite often find at Watford Grammar is teachers tell me I’m too modest, so I was really out to beat that in this competition.”

Maria describes herself as an “all-rounder” but tells me she really prefers science and will be off to Leeds University in the summer to attend a Salters chemistry camp. She also enjoys art and drama and reads a lot, which no doubt has helped develop her writing.

“I write mainly horror or thrillers but also some silly, nonsense stories. I like writing poetry because it enables you to get your point across using layout and structure whereas stories don’t really give you that freedom to experiment.

“I enjoy trying out different ways of writing poems. When I was younger I wrote mainly acrostic poems but by Year Six I found a fascination in writing in rhyme.”

Despite her success, there is one person Maria looks to for approval, her younger sister Kanwal aged 13.

“She is the one who has to put up with me reading all my work to her. I have to run to her after writing only one or two lines and ask do you think this is good, do you think this works?”

Laughable Appearance – By Maria Munir

Have you ever wondered what a laugh must look like?

The twists and turns and folds of gold fabric, Tumble down effortlessly and slide around.

But wait. What preposterous event is this?

They smooth out and play dead.

All is still and silent.

A sullen face, stiff, paper-white, Paralysed by? Nothing- Or is that to say, all-being?

The tiny sliver of golden glory slithers along The floor on a belly of fire, Then it Leaps up and bursts into creases, And the upper lip trembles and roars With vehemence and happiness all at Once.

I looked once, too At a laugh that performed nimbly; It was as though I was rejoicing, In glee at the acrobatics before me at a Circus.

I think life is a circus.

It can be funny at times, oh yes, But it harbours a dark secret, Etched into a panel of sad-looking, Cheap Styrofoam, Lying in the back of a classroom; A crude joke… Giggles and the mustering of girls Who struggle to contain that flaring inside them, And attach little hyperlinks, if you like, To their feebly flickering cold coal hearts, Which leave a little graze of black soot behind them, And they mark their targets with a small ‘tss’.

And the boys, oh the boys, Where would the girls be without them?

The ravenous laughter, An attention-seeking missile is launched, It then abseils down the fuzzy-haired neck of every Boy.

And the heart is one…Or won, if you’d rather.


The laugh Cold and heartless, and icy with fear - Of love of any sort.

It’s like frost and flames, The wet, cold nose of a mongrel, Against the warm, placid face of its owner, Yet there is nothing like an evil laugh.


Mwahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaa .

Yet most seem to retch afterwards.

Maybe the evils are creeping back up their throat, To force the laugh out.

‘Out damned spot.’ They don’t want it.

It has too many positive implications.

But what about the laugh, That has no soul?

Shudders ripple down my back, Weave their way through my spine and come to A halt.

Maybe they are thinking? Yes.

They are.

They too are confounded.

For a laugh without a soul isn’t a laugh.

It’s a close encounter with happiness, That is unwanted.

Or a brush with evils entwined with every sense, Like thick, ebony black, and gloopy tar.

The once flagrant silk scarf of sunflowers, Rests like a child, Its head on my neck, The arms, soft and supple, wrapped Around my throat, It has stopped Moving.

The rustling that sounded so much like laughter has stopped.

All is calm, The wind carries no more.

It is resting.


The laugh.

Have you ever wondered what a laugh must look like?