Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts, NSW
Poetry in First Languages, 2017
Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts is a specialist co-educational, public secondary school located in Fairy Meadow, a suburb of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia, run by the New South Wales Department of Education and Training. It was founded in 1916.
The school enrolls both local area students and students who gain entry through auditions. The school estimates that over a third of the student body has gained entry through auditions.
On 24 October, Yuin poet Kirli Saunders held workshops with Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts and Waniora Public School. These workshops are the first to use the 'Poetry in First Languages' resource, specially tailored to promote connection to country, culture and language. The day focused on poetry in Dharawal Language, with the support of local Language Custodian, Jodi Edwards. Discover the student's poems here.
Indigenous students heard dreaming stories from local elders and language holders, created poetry about the local landscape and identity and learnt about Dharawal language with the aims to translate sections of their poems and collaborate to perform their poetry.
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.