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The School

St John's Catholic Primary School is located in Footscray, 7 kilometres west of the central business district. It was established in 1922 as a church-school, built through the voluntary labour of parishioners. St John’s was under the guidance and leadership of the Sisters of St Joseph for 77 years up until 1999 when the first lay principal was appointed. The school is on a small inner suburban site that is utilised to create a positive learning environment.

The Project

In February, as part of Red Room Poetry's New Shoots project proud Gunai poet Kirli Saunders will guide Years 3 and 4 students from St John's Catholic Primary School through a series of poetic workshops with Aunty Faye Stewart-Muir at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Victoria. The workshops, in association with RGBV, will be divided between these poetic exercises and programs exploring health and wellbeing in nature.  

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’.