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The School

Ltyentye Apurte Catholic Education Centre (LACEC) is situated in the Santa Teresa community, about 83 km south-east of Alice Springs. The local Arrernte language is the first, most frequently used language. The school also features a strong English as a Second Language (ESL) approach.

The Project

Developed by Gunai poet Kirli Saunders and delivered by Red Room Poetry, Poetry in First Languages (PIFL) celebrates, shares and preserves knowledge of First Nations languages and culture through poetry, music and art.

In May this year, poet Kirli Saunders worked with students from Ltyentye Apurte Catholic School and Centralian Secondary College to create poems using Western Arrernte language with the guidance of Custodian Jannette McCormack & Linguist David Moore. A tailored PIFL Arrernte resource was crafted to guide students through the process of writing poetry that is connected to and grounded in Western Arrernte Country and language. 
Poems from the workshops will be published on the Red Room poetry website and were also shared at the NT Writers Festival during the Festival Opening (May 16, 5:30-7pm, Olive Pink Botanic Garden) and Poet's Moon Readings (May 17, 6-7:30pm, Olive Pink Botanic Garden). 

Read the student poems here soon!

The Poet

Kirli Saunders

Kirli Saunders is a proud Gunai woman, with ties to the Yuin, Gundungurra, Gadigal and Biripi people. She currently resides on Dharawal Country. Kirli is an international children’s author, poet and emerging playwright. She manages Poetry in First Languages and Poetic Learning at Red Room Poetry. Her picture books include CBCA nominated and internationally published, The Incredible Freedom Machines (Scholastic) and forthcoming, Our Dreaming and Happy Every After (Scholastic) and Afloat (Hardie Grant). Her poetry Collection, Kindred was Highly Commended in Black&Write 2018. She was Runner-up in the Nakata Brophy Prize 2018. Her poetry has been published by a number of journals (Cordite, Overland, Planthunter) and commissioned for public art. She is co-writing her first play, Dead Horse Gap. 

In 2019, you can find Kirli at NT Writers Festival, Queensland Poetry Festival, Sydney Writers Festival, Enough Said and Word in Hand. She returns as writer in residence at The Literature Centre, Fremantle this year where she will perform The Incredible Freedom Machines with Matt Ottley and the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra in rural WA, at Coco’s Island and Christmas Island.



Taking a dream from conception to delivery – Poetry in First Languages – Kirli Saunders