English Alive

An annual anthology of writing by South African high school students

English Alive is an annual anthology of writing from high schools and secondary colleges in southern Africa (i.e. Grades 8–12).

The first edition of English Alive was published in 1967, and it has been published every year since then.

Approximately 70 pieces of poetry and prose of all sorts and about anything are selected for publication each year.  Brief comments on the pieces are offered by the editor.

The current editor of English Alive is Twanji Kalula, assisted by Naeelah Kamaldien and Robin Malan..

You can submit at any time of the year. The closing date for submissions each year is 1 April (we allow for late-posted entries until 1 May).

The easiest way to submit is to email your piece(s) in Times New Roman 12 pt to editor@englishalive.org.za. (Please don’t use other fonts or sizes, unless it is essential for the piece.)

Remember to put your name and school after each piece, i.e. below it. (We don’t need to know your age or Grade.)

Publication is usually around mid-August each year.

We also invite students to submit artwork for consideration for the cover. Send this by email as a high-resolution 300 dpi jpg to editor@englishalive.org.za.

English Alive is not a competition: there are no cups or cheques handed out for ‘the best’ pieces of writing. Publication is the acknowledgement of writing of quality.

A last cautionary note. Plagiarism is theft, theft of someone else’s words and ideas. No one would want to be guilty of that. Original thinking and original writing are so much more worthwhile!

Who has been published in English Alive?

Too many to mention individually! Many students who submitted to English Alive have since become professional published writers, e.g. the poet Jeremy Cronin, the prose-writer Henrietta Rose-Innes, the dramatist Nadia Davids, the novelist Shaun Johnson, etc. Here’s the news of ex-English Alivers culled from the 2020 edition of the anthology:

The launch of English Alive 2023

Robin Malan (co-editor) Sindiwe Magona (guest speaker) and Twanji Kalula (Editor)

The 2023 edition of English Alive was the 57th anthology, produced annually without a break in production. The 2023 issue was published in August. 

Soliciting submissions 

There has seen an uptick in overall submissions, in line with better in- person school attendance this year and engagement with teachers. As a priority, we have reconnected with many schools. We expect this to improve. We have also received a record number of art submissions for the cover this year as a result of building a visual arts database.

Mr Robin Malan

We have continued our ‘At Any Time’ campaign to encourage learners and teachers to submit throughout the year and avoid a rush in May. As a result, we received submissions at a steady pace. Our official closing date for submissions remained 1 April, with late entries accepted until 1 May.


Once the editorial team has reviewed all the pieces, a shortlist emerges; from those pieces, through discussion and consultation (where necessary), the final published selection of 60-70 pieces is drawn. All work is read and assessed anonymously.

Students whose work was published in the 2023 edition of English Alive


This year’s edition was published in August. We launched the 2023 edition at Pineland High School and think that it is important to launch the anthology at schools.

Copies of English Alive can be ordered online or via email: orders@englishalive.org.za.
For press coverage, please click here.

News of ex-English Alivers 2019 and 2020
  • Peter Anderson (Bishops Diocesan College, 1985) as Senior Lecturer in the English Department at the University of Cape Town presented a series of seminars entitled ‘Reading Poetry’ as a continuation of his course ‘Poetry as Memorable Speech’ (given at the UCT Summer School); and ran a course on ‘Poems of Devotion’ for the 2020 Summer School
  • Daliso Chaponda (Waterford Kamhlaba United World College eSwatini, 1997) concluded his 36-gig ‘Blah Blah Blacklist’ comedy tour of Britain in March 2020
  • Ameera Conrad (Wynberg Girls’ High School, 2010) won the Filipa Bragança Award for best solo show by an emerging female artist at the Edinburgh International Festival Fringe 2019 for her Tales from the Garden; she directed The Royale by Marco Ramirez at the Barbican Theatre Centre in London.
  • Nadia Davids (St Cyprian’s School, 1993–4, 1996): her new play Hold Still was due to be staged at the Fugard Theatre, as part of the Fugard’s New Writing Initiative, but this did not happen because of the Lockdown.
  • Oliver February (Cedar House School, 2009-11) did his MA in Creative Writing (a collection of short stories) at Wits and is now signed up to do his PhD in English Literature.
  • Karen Jennings (Wynberg Girls’ High School, 2001) published her new novel Upturned Earth, described as ‘part of an emergent genre of post-Marikana fiction that showcases South African literary historical fiction’; with Helen Moffett (Hottentots Holland High School, 1978) she co-edited a collection Hotel Africa: new short fiction from Africa.
  • Shaun Johnson (Hyde Park High School, 1976) died in March at the age of 60. Shaun wrote the novel The Native Commissioner, which won just about every prize going, starting with the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book in Africa. He was the founding Editor of the Sunday Independent; and then the founding Chief Executive of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation, from which he retired in 2019.
  • Amy Jephta (Muizenberg High School, 2006) her play All Who Pass was staged at the 2020 University of Stellenbosch Toyota Woordfees; she was to have directed Mike van Graan’s new play What We Wish For at the Fugard Theatre, but this did not happen because of the Lockdown.
  • Duane Jethro (Plumstead High School, 2001, 2002) has been awarded a Georg Forster Research Fellowship by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Through prestigious fellowships like this, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation fosters collaboration and cooperation between excellent scientists from Germany and abroad. Dr Jethro will be working with Professor Sharon Macdonald at the Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage (CARMaH) at the Humboldt University of Berlin.saw the publication by Bloomsbury of his book Heritage Formation and the Senses in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Duane’s UCT career spanned work in the Department of Religious Studies, the Department of Psychology, the Archive and Public Culture Research Unit affiliated to the Department of Historical Studies. His Doctorate was achieved at the University of Utrecht. He served a two-year Fellowship at Humboldt University, Berlin, and is now a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage, in the Institute for European Ethnology at the Humboldt University. 
  • Siphokazi Jonas (Queenstown Girls’ High School, 2002) was the Business & Arts South Africa (BASA) DAC Debut Programme Winner for 2019, for founding the writing and performing arts company, Wrestling Dawn Arts; she presented a poetry and music production #wearedyinghere at the Joburg Theatre.
  • David Lan (Westerford High School, 1967–9) saw Faber & Faber publish his memoir As if by Chance: journeys, theatres, lives, spanning his whole career from school plays in Cape Town to spirit mediums in Zimbabwe to the Royal Court in London straight from drama school, to becoming the Artistic Director of The Young Vic Theatre, ending up with three Laurence Olivier Awards; a Special Laurence Olivier Award on his retirement; a Special Award from the Critics’ Circle for his contribution to theatre; an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from the South Bank University, and a CBE from the Queen; the book was due to be launched to a full house at the National Theatre’s Lyttleton Theatre, but this did not happen because of the Lockdown. Critic Lyn Gardner said of David: ‘It would be hard to think of anyone who has done more to shape British theatre in recent times than David Lan.’
  • Robin Malan (assistant founding editor 1967–70, editor 1995–2004, 2007–2012, 2014–17, co-editor 2018) published a collection of pieces under the title along the way to where to coincide with his 80th birthday.
  • Kopano Maroga (Michaelhouse, 2011), had his first book published by uHlanga Press, with the title Jesus Thesis and other critical fabulations.
  • Andisiwe Mgibantaka (Intlanganiso Secondary School, 2003-4) and Robin Malan (see above) as Junkets Publisher were the recipients of the 2020 Fleur du Cap Innovation in Theatre Award.
  • Lesego Moeketsane (Springs Girls’ High School, 2015) studied Strategic Communication and Brand Contact Management, and is now a copywriter. She said of English Alive: ‘Thank you so much for creating such a platform for us creatives. … [A] seed was definitely planted.’
  • Helen Moffett (Hottentots Holland High School, 1978): her novel Charlotte made the Culturefly online arts magazine’s List of 25 Books You Should Read in 2020; with Karen Jennings (Wynberg Girls’ High School, 2001) she co-edited a new collection Hotel Africa: new short fiction from Africa.
  • Dr Siona O’Connell (Waterford Kamhlaba United World College eSwatini, 1986 as Sheena O’Connell) has published a new book, with the title Impossible Return: Cape Town’s forced removals.
  • Kate Philip (Herschel Girls School, 1977) is a Senior Economic Development Advisor in the Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC), an agency of South Africa’s National Treasury, and, through the International Labour Organisation, she has also been supporting the government of Greece in the roll-out of a public employment programme; in 2019 she published her book Markets on the margins: mineworkers, job creation and enterprise development.
  • Henrietta Rose-Innes (Westerford High School, 1985-9, i.e. every year of her high school career) saw the publication in both the UK and South Africa of her fifth novel Stone Plant.
  • Kelwyn Sole (King Edward VII School, 1969): his poem ‘The empty space we call Mandela’ was published in the Johannesburg Review of Books.
  • Stuart Stromin (Northcliff High School, 1975, 1976) had a new novel Wild Cards published, initially in a Kindle edition, available on Amazon.
  • Archie Swanson (Bishops Diocesan College, 1973) launched his second collection of poems the shores of years at the 2019 McGregor Poetry Festival.

How do I submit to English Alive?

You can submit one piece or a small number of pieces.
You can submit independently or through your school.
Be sure that each piece has your name and school below it.
You can submit at any time of the year. The closing date for submissions each year is 1 April (we allow for late-posted entries until 1 May).
The easiest way to submit is to email your piece(s) in Times New Roman 12 pt to editor@englishalive.org.za. (Please don’t use other fonts or sizes, unless it is essential for the piece.)
Or you can submit them via the English Alive website: www.englishalive.org.za/submit.
Publication is usually around mid-August each year.
We also invite students to submit artwork for consideration for the cover. Send this by email as a high-resolution 300dpi jpg to editor@englishalive.org.za.

How should I present my work?

Guidelines on presentation

Because so many of your submissions come to us beautifully presented as print-outs from PCs or, increasingly and conveniently, emailed directly to us from your screens, it might be a good idea to offer some guidelines of what would be most convenient for us:

  • Set the language at the bottom-right of your screen at ‘English (South Africa)’
  • Use only Times New Roman 12 pt (unless your piece absolutely demands something else)
  • Type the title flush-left in 12 pt and in bold only – no underlining, please!
  • If it’s a poem that you want centred, then centre the title as well
  • Leave a 1-line space between title and piece
  • After your piece, leave a 1-line space
  • Type your name flush-left
  • On the next line type your school (there’s no need for a Grade or your age)
  • Italicise both name and school
  • Use single spacing
  • In prose, indent new paragraphs to 1 cm
  • Do not ever use two character-spaces after any punctuation mark, i.e. before new sentences
  • Do not exceed 700 words per submission

You may want to do much fancier things typographically for your portfolio or your own personal poem-journal, with borders and curlicues, but the above is what suits us best. To repeat, more specifically…

  • Leave your spell- and grammar-check facility ON – it will self-correct some of your mistyping
  • Check your spelling and grammar after you’ve finished (under ‘Tools’ click on ‘Spelling and Grammar’)
  • Using your ‘Control’ and ‘Arrow Forward’, move your cursor from word to word as you re-read right through your piece – you’ll pick up slips and mistypes
  • Do not read for sense: read the words you have typed. Read what is actually there, not what you expect to be there.
  • Print out a hard copy of your work. Leave it in a drawer or folder for a day. Take it out and read it again, carefully. You’re likely to pick up slips you didn’t notice on the screen.
  • If your work is a poem that needs indenting for some reason, be especially careful to be precise about where the indent(s) should be.
  • Because inclusion in the anthology depends on the editors reading what you have submitted, it is sensible to present as near-perfect a piece as you can – even good writing creates an unfavourable impression if it is littered with errors and is unchecked, unproofread, and unedited.

Where can I get further information about English Alive?

If you have any further questions:
E-mail the editor at editor@englishalive.org.za.

How do I order a copy?

Click here order a copy of English Alive or send an email to orders@englishalive.org.za.