Bowral Public School
Poetry in First Languages, 2019
Bowral Public School is a public primary school in Bowral, New South Wales. Established in 1867, the school's academic, cultural and sporting programs engage students in a wide range of quality learning experiences, providing the foundations for life-long learning so that they become literate, numerate, well-educated citizens with the capabilities and confidence to make a positive contribution to Australian society.
In its second year, Poetry in First Languages - Gundungurra focuses on connecting to Country through a conservation project in partnership with Wingecarribee Shire Council and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Glossies in the Mist. This iteration of Poetry in First Languages aims to support students to create poetry about the Glossy Black Cockatoo and other local species, drawing on Gundungurra Language. Students helped bring about awareness of this endangered species and encourage change in the local environment and community. This project took students on Country with Elders and Custodians, educated them in conservation practices and support students in learning about Gundungurra culture and land. Students created poems in Gundungurra language to celebrate local flora and fauna, which will be published and performed meaningfully in the broader community.
In March, following the cultural experience Gunai poet Kirli Saunders guided students from Bowral High School, Bowral Public School, Moss Vale High School, St Pauls Primary School, Aurora Southern Highlands Steiner School and Berrima Public School through the new resource, specific to Gundungurra Country with Aunty Trish Levett. Students were connected to First Nations Poets, Elders and Language Custodians on Country, strengthening the connection of First Nations students to Country, language and community to empower students to feel pride in their cultural identities.
In the southern regions of Gundungurra country, crossing the Nattai, Wollondilly and Paddy’s Rivers, there is only one remaining native vegetation corridor, between Bullio and Bungonia. Little is currently known about the local population of glossies in this area. Do they successfully breed in the corridor each year? Are they vulnerable to pests or other predators? Can the current landscape sustain their unique feeding behaviour?
With the help of citizen scientists, the Glossies in the Mist project aims to answer some of these questions, and through the mapping of key habitat resources such as important feed and hollow bearing trees, the project hopes to secure foraging and breeding habitat for the glossy black-cockatoo into the future.
Poetry in First Languages is supported by the Commonwealth through the Australian National Commission for UNESCO of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It is proudly supported by Graeme Wood Foundation, Oranges and Sardines Foundation, Copyright Agency, and generous individuals.
On Gundungurra country, PIFL is also supported by Wingecarribee Shire Council, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, and Elders and Custodians, Aunty Sharyn Hall, Aunty Trish Levett and Jacob Morris.
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.