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All student poems

The School

Students from Borroloola, Elliott and Tennant Creek High School have collaborated as part of the annual Tennant Creek Writers' Camp 2014. 

The Borroloola Community Education Centre (CEC) contains a preschool, primary school and secondary school. The CEC enjoys an average attendance of 100 students, but has far more listed on its rolls. 

Elliott School is located in the community of Elliott approximately 250km north of Tennant Creek or 850km south of Darwin. The population of Elliott is approximately 500. The traditional owners of the area are the Jingili people. Elliott School is part of the Barkly Group School and offers education to students from preschool through to middle years.

Tennant Creek High School is a Northern Territory government school catering for students from Years 7 to 12. The population of the school is about 200 students of whom approximately half are Indigenous.

The Project

Thanks to the generous support of the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, The Red Room Company teamed up with the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation for the annual Tennant Creek Writers' Camp. Now in its second year, the camp involved collaboration with the very remote schools of Borroloola and Tennant Creek as well as Papulu Apparr-Kari Language Centre and Barkly Regional Arts. From the 20th - 24th October, over 100 students participated in the camp with workshops led by poets Lionel Fogarty, Rosemary Plummer, Maureen O’Keefe, Luka Lesson and Dr. Philip Hall.

Read the students' poems here!

The Poet

Lionel Fogarty

A Murri man, Lionel is a leading spokesman for Indigenous rights in Australia, particularly deaths in custody following the death of his brother, Daniel Yock, in 1993. His poetry expresses the need for innovation and urgency. In doing so, it is sometimes surreal, sometimes confronting and includes large amounts of Bandjalang dialect and vernacular.

Fogarty has been involved with The Red Room Company, participating in Unlocked, a program for inmates in New South Wales correctional centres, as well its creative projects including Clubs & Societies and The Poet's Life Works.

Lionel Fogarty was born on Wakka Wakka land at Barambah, now known as Cherbourg Aboriginal Reserve near Murgon, Queensland. His traditional background is the Yoogum and Kudjela tribes and he has relations from the Goomba tribe.

After being educated to ninth grade at Murgon High school, he worked at a variety of local casual jobs, went ringbarking, worked on a railway gang, and came to Brisbane when he was sixteen.

In the early 1970s Fogarty became actively involved in Aboriginal politics after a realisation of the injustices experienced while growing up on the Reserve. His involvement in the political struggles of the Aboriginal people has been through various organisations including the Aboriginal Legal Service, Aboriginal Housing Service, Black Resource Centre, Black Community School and Murrie Coo-ee. As a legal and political activist, and as a community leader, his work has also been directed towards the reality of Aboriginal deaths in custody.

Fogarty has travelled widely throughout Australia and the USA as an ambassador for Murri culture and Aboriginal causes. In 1976 he travelled to the USA to address a meeting of the American Indian Movement of the Second International Indian Treaty Council in South Dakota. Attending this forum furthered his commitment to fight injustice and gave him a broader perspective of international struggles. In 1993, in the International Year of the World's Indigenous People, he undertook an extensive reading tour through Europe.

Lionel Fogarty began writing poetry out of a commitment to the Aboriginal cause, a belief that land rights is the basis of Aboriginal people's hope for a future not based on racism and oppression, and as a way of expressing his Murri beliefs and continuing to pass on his own knowledge and experience.