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Study of War Literature Wins Big


Congratulations to Imogen Wells (2021) whose exceptional English Extension 2 Major Work ‘In a Split Second’ was recently selected for inclusion in the prestigious ‘WordXpress Young Writer’s Showcase’ publication.

As the daughter of an army officer and the granddaughter of a Vietnam war veteran, Imogen says the creative nonfiction piece aims to spark new reflections and lines of enquiry around war literature’s relationship with morality.

The process proved to be a deeply personal one. “Every challenge has helped me grow. The journey ignited great enthusiasm for where reading and writing might take me in the future … and left me with more questions than answers.”

'In a Split Second’ was written from a civilian perspective and focuses on two works - Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Tim O’Brien’s How to Tell a War Story. Its frame is the reflections of a war journalist reporting on the trial of a war criminal at the International Criminal Court.

A short extract is reproduced below:

“The first time I felt it, that terrible sense of euphoria surrounded by tragedy, I felt revolted. I had returned from an ambushed patrol with dirty shoes, a mixture of blood and soil tracing their grooves. I raced to throw them in the bin. There I was, with no boots, dirty clothes and a terrifying growing addiction to an adrenaline rush that I had found nowhere in civilian life.”

“That day I had breathed in the insidious intertwining of war and peace. To that point, I thought I knew war, what I understood as a conflict between state-like authorities. But understanding dissolves now in the murky realities of an impossible-to-explain power struggle. The verdicts of ‘guilty’ and ‘innocent’ seem too simple, right and wrong sorted into neat bundles. The words are declared a world away from war with what result?—war rages on.”

“People often forget that journalists aren’t passive spectators. The rights and the wrongs braid themselves together in my head, criss-crossing over each other, over and over. My job can never be to simply position myself within the frame of tragedy and report what I see, objectively and plainly. Instead, I am a curator, a director, constructing the setting, casting characters and editing the script. The moment is mine: I choose how the world sees the events pushed into the peripheries of the global stage. But I am not frozen in that static reality on your screen—when the camera stops rolling the frame expands. It envelops me from all sides. Inside, sometimes, I want to scream.”