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The School

Coreen is an aboriginal word meaning "the last of the hills".

Coreen School was established as a special school for children with learning difficulties in January 1970. Prior to this, four classrooms had occupied the site for some years as an annexe to Blacktown Public School. During 1977 a major programme of renovations and additions was undertaken by the Department of Public Works. Designed originally to cater for children from infants through secondary ages, Coreen contains classrooms which may be used in a variety of ways, due to the flexible nature of the design.
Coreen School is now a NSW Department of Education school for high school students with assessed additional needs in learning and behaviour. Students are referred to Coreen School through a regional placement panel and parents inspect the school prior to enrolment.

The Project

Red Room Poetry’s Youth Unlocked collaborates with students, teachers and educational communities in Behavioural Intervention Centres and Juvenile Justice Centres to deepen encounters with poetry.

In 2019 in a series of four workshops across May and June, RR poet Kirli Saunders and artist David Cragg collaborated with students at Coreen School to create original poems both individually and in groups. These workshops focused on themes of community, family and belonging, as well as connection to the Earth with First Nations perspectives. Workshops were held on 21 May, 28 May 21, 4 June and 11 June 2019.

Students will work to turn poetry into poetic art, utilise Virtual Reality headsets, and virtually spray their poems to create their pieces. David Cragg will also create a mural at the school, incorporating both the written and visual work created by the students. 

Read the student poems here.

The Poet

Kirli Saunders

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.