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Celebrating the humble breadstick (and other everyday heroes)

POSTED: 24 August 2023

Young writers share poetry celebrating their heroes, from mothers and best friends, to food, football GOATs and firm-but-fair teachers

For the past six months, Autograph have been collaborating with local charity Ministry of Stories, and the young writers aged 8 - 15 who attend their Writing Labs. Taking inspiration from Autograph's exhibitions and collection, participants considered questions of identity and representation, culminating in a project responding to the question: what makes a hero? Below we've shared a selection of poems alongside cyanotype prints produced by the group, reflecting on the traits we might see in heroes and questioning the very idea of heroism itself. 

The writers will be sharing their work in a pop up display at Autograph of 16 September. 

A hero is evil/good
and the big question is
is killing bad guys
a good thing or a bad thing

— By Ezra

A Hero Is

My hero can make food that
are bussin-bussin.
She gives hugs softer
than a squishmelon.
She makes music like
DJ Javey.
Her favourite colour is
She smells like butterscotch.
She is short like a minion.

— By Lucy


Scared and lost.
Pained and failed.
Not a single drop of emotion left.
Fiery eyes,
and eyes reddened,
Dried blood for breath.
Slowly walking,
the people move aside,
and his tears flow no more,
his rough voice scares loved ones away,
his strong touch rattles even the strongest beast,
and he feels nothing anymore.
What a hero must go through,
what a PERSON must go through,
Sometimes isn’t worth it.

— By Blai


Are they really all they are thought to be!
Because they are actually nothing like me,
They always stop the villain in the end.
And have a sidekick to help and lend,
We forgot about the violence as a cost.
Leaving me feeling slightly lost.

In reality Heroes and villains are the same,
Just with something else to gain.

— By Liberty

How does one become a hero?
Is it by saving the world?
Is it by saving everything they can?
or is a hero someone who doesn’t save anything?
someone who knows when to let go?

A hero knows when to stop
when saving the world hurts everyone
a hero doesn’t have to be brave
a hero doesn’t have to be kind or selfless
a hero just needs to save something or someone
or knows when to stop

stop trying to save a world that cannot be … saved

— By Alinda


        mum, mum
you are a bright, sunny day
you are a sofa allowing me to lay
        mum, mum
you are a beautiful, long dress
you are a limo driving through the sunset
        mum, mum
you are the morning but take care of me at night
and you are my light

        mum, mum
        you are my hero

        you, you
you are a bright sunny day
you are a sofa allowing me to lay
        you, you
you are a beautiful, long dress
you are a limo driving through the sunset
        you, you

— By Amelie

Everyday Heroes

breadstick helps me to eat.

breadstick is like a breadstick chair
(red plastic chair).

breadsticks taste like super bread.

breadstick makes me feel calm and happy.

breadstick is crunchy and really nice.

breadstick is really tall and thin.

breadstick is skinny like a half pencil.

breadstick is like a bread and a stick.

breadstick gives me more breadsticks
like a vending machine

breadstick is weak like a baby.

breadstick has the most babies in the world.

breadstick is very young because
it has no age.

breadstick sounds like it is dying
when I take a bite out of it.

breadstick is really smooth.

breadstick smells like bread

I would say it is about breadsticks

Also it is about breadstick is

my hero

— By Raaj


Big thank you to my history teacher.
Without her I wouldn’t be here.
Always putting up with my nonsense
Putting me in detentions.
Times were tense.

— By Ishaq

Granny Nanny was born in the 1900s and when she was 15 she travelled on the Windrush. She is now 80 years old, she is OLD!!! Let me tell you about her life on the Windrush boat. She was travelling through the seas with other Jamaicans. The wind was woosh (an expression of saying heavy).
The seas were rough and the food was disgusting! Sleeping was noisy, with all the snoring and the ship going side to side. The ship was sinking, so they had to act fast. They had to jump on the lifeboats, but some people had to sacrifice because there wasn’t enough lifeboats. Granny Nanny was about to but she didn’t.
Someone told her she was too young, so she had to go on the lifeboat with no other choice. And that was the last time she would see that person AGAIN!

— By Pamela

Chicken soup and pasta, bowl after bowl,
As well as some peas strawberries and sometimes an artichoke
When I take the train over the sun is beating down,
but not too hot, just how I like it.
Your laugh is infectious
So is your love for music
Your food is delicious
Especially your apple crumble.

— By Mimi

Hey, you guys all around the globe
ME - 8 billion followers
Legend, I am me, I’m me, so yeah
I’m walking down the street looking like a preet from Pret
I’m playing FIFA 23
While I’m walking freely
SHOOTING ME    AIM ME     SKILLS  TIE              IQ       ME DEFENSE


I can beat Messi in a 1v1 in 10 seconds,   I’M THE GOAT of football ZOOWEE!
I’m smiling strangely
back home
Next round ME vs Ronaldo

— By Noel

Related content


Showcase: My Hero Is Nothing Like the Movie Heroes

A showcase event, sharing all the works and cyanotypes produced by participants of the project

Find out more


Congratulations to all the young writers of Ministry of Stories' Writing Labs. With huge thanks to the volunteer writing mentors. For Ministry of Stories: Linden K McMahon, Jessica Randall, Rob Smith. For Autograph: Mavreen Arhin, Livvy Murdoch. Artist Facilitator: Shepherd Manyika. Design: Studio Brick.

supported by

Ministry of Stories is supported by and grateful to the following organisations:
Arts Council England; Amazon Literary Partnership; Rachel Hood 1978 Charitable Trust; Tom ap Rhys Pryce Memorial Trust; The Fagus Anstruther Memorial Trust; Cockayne Grants for the Arts, a donor advised fund held at The London Community Foundation

All the cyanotype images on this page were produce by Ministry of Stories' Writing Labs participants, during a workshop led by artist Shepherd Manyika.