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The School

Moss Vale High School is a comprehensive secondary school serving a community extending from Robertson in the east to Wingello in the south. Set in extensive grounds on a hill overlooking the northern outskirts of Moss Vale, it provides space for the growth and development of young people. Take a peak at their creative talents in the Bamir Language Gallery

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.

On 20 March, Kirli Saunders guided students from Years 7-12 from Moss Vale High School through the new resource, specific to Gundungurra Country. 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.

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, Geoff Ainsworth AM & Johanna Featherstone, Copyright Agency, and generous individuals.

On Gundungurra country, PIFL is also supported by Wingecarribee Shire Council, Australian Decorative Fine Arts Society Bowral, Participants in the Australia Council’s 2018 Arts Leaders Program, Graeme Wood Foundation, ABC and AIME.

The Poet

Kirli Saunders

Kirli Saunders is a proud Gunai woman with ties to the Yuin, Gundungurra, Gadigal and Biripi people. Kirli is the Manager of Poetic Learning and Aboriginal Cultural Liaison at Red Room Poetry. She was awarded ‘Worker of the Year 2017’ at the NAIDOC awards in the Illawarra/ Shoalhaven region and has been nominated for a National NAIDOC award in 2018. Kirli founded the Poetry in First Languages project. Her first children’s picture book The Incredible Freedom Machines, illustrated by Matt Ottley was selected for Bologna Book Fair and is published internationally. Her second picture book Our Dreaming will be released by Scholastic in July 2019, Happy Ever After will follow in February 2020. Kirli’s First Poetry Collection, Kindred is to be released by Magabala in 2019, it was Highly Commended in the 2018 Black&Write! prize. Kirli’s poem ‘A Dance of Hands’ was Runner-up in the Nakata Brophy Prize. Kirli’s poetry has been published by Cordite and Overland and has embedded in infrastructure at Darling Harbour and the Royal Botanical Gardens, Melbourne. In 2018, Kirli will be Writer in Residence at Bundanon Trust, Q Station and The Literature Centre, Fremantle for ‘The Sound of Picture Books’.