Websites to get your creative thoughts flowing:

Writers always need ideas. To get you started in thinking, you could visit the Anti-Poverty Week website.

Teachers, we’ve thought of you too and many of the links below may give some ideas to get your students started.

Writing Tips from Jackie French

Andy Griffiths Tips on Writing

Sydney Story Factory Writing Tips

John Marsden’s Tips for Writing

Writing Resources forYoung Writers

The Literacy Shed

Wicked Young Writer Awards

For the Storywriters

Story Start

Story Generator

For the Poets

Poetry Help

Poetry Ideas

Poetry Writing Ideas by Writeshop

Poetry Writing for Kids

Using Technology to Help Students Start Writing Poetry

2018 Winning Entries

Congratulations to everyone who entered the Pens Against Poverty Writing Competition in 2018!

If I was able to ask a good fairy to give a kid a gift, it wouldn’t be beauty or riches, but the ability to feel empathy, and compassion- and the confidence to act when you feel that the world needs to be changed for good. Writing a story or a poem about poverty is a little thing. But all education is made of of ‘little things’, which, added together, create the adult to come. The wonderful students and the inspiring teachers who have created the entries for this competition have…. actually, I don’t know what they have done, or will done, except begin to think, or continue to think, to feel or continue to feel, to, just possibly, start the process of finding solutions when these students are the ones who have inherited the roles of running the world.And every one of those who has entered this competition, who has thought, and felt, and worked out how to  communicate those thoughts and understanding to others, will perhaps be just a little more confident, articulate, compassionate, thoughtful…. little things, which as their school years pass, may grow, and keep on growing.

– Jackie French, Pens Against Poverty Judge

Read the winning entries below.

3/4 Poetry:

  • Winner: Tim Minogue – St Bede’s Primary School
  • Highly Commended: Ava White – St Thomas More’s Primary School

3/4 Short Story:

  • Winner: Arabella Krippner – St Bede’s Primary School
  • Highly Commended: Tim Minogue – St Bede’s Primary School

5/6 Poetry:

  • Winner: Evelyn van Wijk – Canberra Grammar School
  • Highly Commended: Isaac Pearce – St Patrick’s Primary School, Gundagai NSW

5/6 Short Story:

  • Winner: Carissa Henzie – Canberra Girls Grammar School
  • Highly Commended: Reshmi Senanayake – Canberra Girls Grammar School
  • Highly Commended: Lana Sault – Canberra Girls Grammar School

7/8 Poetry/ Short Story:

  • Winner: Allie Jeffery – Belconnen High School
  • Highly Commended: Callum Webb – St John Paul II College

9/10 Poetry/ Short Story:

  • Winner: India Kazakoff – Canberra Grammar School
  • Highly Commended: Sam Johnson – Lyneham High School

Overall Junior Winner:

  • Tim Minogue – St Bede’s Primary School

Overall Senior Winner:

  • India Kazakoff – Canberra Grammar School

Overall Schools Award:

  • Winner: St Bede’s Primary School
  • Highly Commended: Communities@Work Galilee School


Year 3/4 – Poetry

Name: Tim Minogue
School: St Bede’s Primary Red Hill

On the Edge

As I saw the wolf on the edge of the mountain,
His loud howl burst out of his mouth like water coming out of a fountain.

The wolf was standing there blocking the sun,
I thought to myself, “Should I run?”

The wolf was looking at me as if I were prey,
I was getting ready to sprint away.

The wolf looked sad and alone.
It looked like it was injured as he began to moan.

I started to get intrigued and wandered up the hill,
The sun began to set, and it gave me a chill.

There was loose gravel and dead trees everywhere,
The wolf glared at me, eyes like a bear.

I felt like a detective inspecting the beast.
As I inspected his body there were no injuries I could see, at least.

I knew the wolf wasn’t injured. So why would he be up here?
He didn’t look sad, but he didn’t look like he wanted to cheer.

His eyes never shifted from where he was facing,
And that’s when I realised I never turned around, to see what he was embracing.

Maybe the wolf came up here to look at the beautiful city,
That was probably right ,because it was so pretty.

Being on the edge brought a great sight,
Whether it was dark or light, morning or night.

I could see all the buildings, big or small,
Right now looking on the edge, nothing mattered at all.

I felt lucky because people that are homeless might
Not, be able to see such a beautiful sight,

They must be sad because they might
Not, have enough strength to see the view at night.

The wolf is like the lucky person who’s poor, and able to see this view
The boy hears the man talking about the view, realizing it might be a clue..

Year 3/4 – Poetry 

Highly Commended 

Name: Ava White
School: St Thomas More’s Primary School

The helpless cries of children, ringing in your ears.
Sleeping on hard ground, park benches, cold cement.
Sleeping close to death.
Give them shelter, light.
Give them love, warmth.
Give them warm meals.
Give them water and hold them close.

Take them away from the edge.
The edge of despair, the edge of sadness, the edge of hunger and thirst.
Give them the help that they deserve.
When did their life become less valuable than yours?

Give them hope.
Let them speak.
Give them a chance.
Their opinions matter.

Their cold, hungry bodies should be removed from the streets, and taken into a house,
taken into the willing, loving arms of a family.
Restless, sleepless nights worrying.

Worrying when the next decent meal will come.
Maybe never!
This is what goes on in their heads on all those cold, sleepless nights, spent worrying.

Don’t ignore them!
Share the love!
Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.
Dirty or not, they are people!

People, who deserve kindness.
This world is out of sight to them.
They live somewhere dif erent.
They do not often see a good meal.
They do not often see clean water.
Many must rummage through bins, to find breakfast.
Hoping to scavenge a crumb or two.

This is the way they live. It is not fair.
We must change this.
We must help out. Let’s altogether bring them away from the edge.


Year 3/4 – Short Story 


Name: Arabella Krippner
School: St Bede’s Primary Red Hill

Chapter 1: Joke
I have been walking for three days. I have no house, no love, no anything. It is like a joke and nobody gets it. I came to a house and looked through the window and it had a nice cosy fireplace. I looked again and saw a happy family around the fire.” I wish I had a loving family like that one too and I could go to school every day. A beautiful girl was walking past but she wasn’t very lovely at all. “What are you looking at grub?” she said to me rudely. ”Ah, nothing!” as I sighed. I wish I had a home and a loving family. I came to a grubby, old, broken down hotel. I hope this place has a room for me even if it’s horrible! “No you can’t stay here because you have no money and you look disgusting!” But I keep on going. No is the answer, again and again. Why does the world hate me? A girl sat next to me. ”What do you want?” I asked. “I want you to came with me.” she said. ”Ok but can I trust you? “I’m a good person, I don’t have any children and a little girl like you needs a home.” I walked beside her holding her hand until we came to a little house in the woods. Come inside!” “Ok” I replied excitedly. I was sure this was going to be my forever home.
Chapter 2: On the Road
The next day early in the morning I was on the road again. I had heard her husband talking over dinner about putting me in an orphanage. Any place would be better than being in an orphanage so I decided to leave this gorgeous place. My heart was beating fast and my feet didn’t want to leave. I feel like I am on an edge. I heard a distance yelling. “Where are you going? she was calling out to me. ”Stay with me!” “I couldn’t believe it. I now have a home and a loving family. I know my place in the world now.
Chapter 3: One month later
One month later I was by the cosy fire when I heard a knock on the door. “Sorry to bother you but I am on the edge,” Came in.” We adopted the kid and we were now a big happy family.

Year 3/4 – Short Story 

Highly Commended 

Name: Tim Minogue
School: St Bede’s Primary Red Hill

On The Edge
As I watched my father fighting for North Korea in the war I had a feeling that me and my brother would never see our father again. The war will come to our city and we might be living in poverty. Then my little brother, Simon said something that I will never forget. “If we never see dad again, and we become refugees, I hope we will live in a city that is peaceful, and there is no war there”. “Simon, if we don’t see dad again, I really do hope that we find a peaceful, loving city” I replied. Then a man was knocking on our door. “Come in” I said. A man in an army suit with big black boots on said” I have some bad news for you, Max and Simon. Your dad has sadly passed away in the war. He got shot by a man with a rifle. And the city is too dangerous for you two boys” the man said. “So we are refugees” Simon said in a nervous, little voice. “I guess so” the man said. As we packed our bags to go somewhere peaceful, a tear went running down my cheek. I looked up and saw a picture of me and my dad. The only way I could describe myself is, devastated. “Come on kids. The plane leaves soon” the man said looking at his watch. “Max, why does daddy’s boss, Mr Kim Jong- Un fire missiles at other countries” Simon asked me. “I don’t know” I said.

As we were driving to the airport I saw all the burned houses, and destroyed shops from people shooting missiles. “Well this is your plane?” the man asked. “Excuse me sir, where are we going?” Simon asked the man. “Well you are going to a place called Canberra. It is a city in Australia” the man replied. “Ok” Simon replied.

As we were 30,000ft in the air in our plane I saw Australia.

As we walked into our new home it was much more different then Korea. It smelt better, more modern, more tidy, bigger, had lots of food and we even got our own bedrooms. “Wow” I said as my jaw dropped to the ground. “Oh, hello you two boys” a women with orange hair said. “You two must be Max and Simon”. “Hello” Simon said. My jaw still dropped to the ground. As I walked into my new bedroom it had dark blue walls, a black bed and a timber desk in the corner of my room.

“Max and Simon, we are watching a movie now” the nice lady said. “What are we watching?” I asked the lady. “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” the nice lady replied.

The next day at school I knew that I wasn’t going to fit in. Then at the end of the day this nice girl came up to me. “Hi” she said. Then I knew I had my first best friend.

Name: Tim  Minogue
School: St Bede’s Primary Red Hill

On The Edge

I was rich, I was greedy, I was selfish and I was rude. That was all in the past. Now I am poor. I want to go back in time and rewind my actions. I am running from danger. They hate me. They hate me because of what I’ve done. They hate me because I treated everyone like slaves. I was running on Cliff Road. Then I was on the edge. I was on the edge of the cliff. I had a choice to fight or to jump. I couldn’t decide. I realised that water was on the bottom of the cliff. “YAY!” I screamed. I was lucky. If I jumped I would land in water and I could get a drink because I am really thirsty. I took a few deep breaths. “Breath in, Justin” I said to myself. Then I jumped. “AHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

SPLASH! I was down. Then I looked under the water. “What’s that thing moving around underwater?” I said. “Oh no, its’ a Great White Shark!” I was swimming as fast as I could. I was kicking so hard that my feet were my making a fountain. I was going as fast as I could. But I was getting weaker and weaker. It felt like my bones were shaking. “I have to persist” I made out of the water. I was relieved.

I was walking to find a new home. I found a farm. I found an old, small crooked house. I ran up to it. I knocked on the door. “Hello, anyone here” I said nervously. Then I opened the door. The floor was creaking. Then I found a picture. It looked like me. “Wait a minute, that’s me!” Then I saw my parents. “MUM” I screamed. “JUSTIN!” She replied. Then I discovered that this was my parent’s house. My mum was running to me. But she just pushed me. I looked back. A school kid was standing there. Then I screamed… “NOOOOO”

“Ah. Where am I” I said to myself. Then I saw a nurse burst through the door. “Excuse me, Mr, you jumped off a cliff, and you landed in water, with a great white shark” The nurse replied. “Why is my leg numb?” I said. Then I looked at my leg. It was gone. The shark must off bit my leg off. I looked at the clock. The time was 2:43 am. All I could remember was going on the edge of the cliff, jumping, seeing the shark and swimming for my life.

One Week Later…

I was all depressed because I lost my leg, I am now disabled and I will never be normal again. “Wait a minute, people that are disabled can be anything they want. I want to become a pilot”

Now I am a pilot for QANTAS. I am very happy. I have prosthetic leg. I have friends and money. I am happy. I am not poor. I have recovered. I am not alone.

Year 5/6 Poetry

Name:Evelyn van Wijk
School: Canberra Grammar School

The sirens claw at the vessels,
Their mottled talons scraping at flaking paint,
They lament their corpses.
The song they sing is not alluring or beautiful,
Their chorus is nothing like the arias sung in concert halls,
Not rich like the tang of chocolate melting upon an outstretched tongue,
Or the warble of a songbird.
They conjure individual tales of pain,
Of hurt,
And sorrow,
Of gaunt children kneeling upon red sand,
With guns in their hands,
Of explosions up in grey skies that look like golden fireworks,
That make buildings crumble like layer cake without icing.
Graves marked by nothing but slabs of granite,
Colourless unlike the person’s soul.
Their tongues are parched,
Their lips branded by the beating sun,
Their stomachs are hollow,
With nothing to comfort them,
Except for the reassurance of a chewed leather belt.
The swell of the sea,
Lulls them to oblivion,
Leaving few to star-flecked nights,
That are filled with daydreams of that almost-forgotten four-letter word,
The sirens try for the pristine shore,
Some floating to the bottom of the ocean,
Towards the vibrant coral.
They are still in the between zone,
Of a home never forgotten and a home that may never be theirs,
But that perhaps could one day be in their grasp.

Year 5/6 Poetry

Highly Commended

Name: Isaac Pearce
School: St Patrick’s Primary School, Gundagai NSW


I am strong but homeless

I wonder if I’ll ever be part of the outside world

I hear the noise of people laughing and speaking

I see people in their homes warming up by their fires at night

I want live in a home with a family

I am strong but homeless

I pretend I have a job

I feel like I am in my own world

I touch my dirty street cat and whisper, “We will find a home.”

I worry that I won’t have food to eat

I cry silently for someone to help me

I am strong but homeless

I understand people want to avoid me but they also want to help me I say I am ready to stand up

I dream about a life I may never have

I try to have that life though

I hope for shelter

I am strong but homeless

Year 5/6 Short Story 


Name: Carissa Henzie
School: Canberra Girls Grammar School

I woke up on a dim, foggy morning as the ravens crowed and the wind whispered quietly. I got out of bed and turned around to peer out of my window looking blankly at The Tree Of Humanity, a tall oak tree that slowly cripples each day. It watches over us wishing its long fragile branches could reach out and help them all, but all it can do is watch as the pain goes through his roots forever into the Earth’s history. The tree cries as its leaves fall.

“The poor grasp at a change to feed their families, the hungry and I are dying and my peaceful community is falling apart,” the Tree said quietly to me.
“Don’t worry my friend, as long as you stay with us the people can have faith and humanity will someday fill their view. I will make sure that day comes.”

I ran off into the world, hoping to find anything to help. As I was running not far from the tree I realised my mistake. Not a soul in this world can fix this, only the people can, only they can decide to ruin their future. Not those in need but those who don’t bother to help, the ones who don’t think what happens to the poor affects them. No matter how much they think that, it will always affect us all.

The tree watched me as I fell to my knees in realisation. I stood and turning slowly, dangling my head as I walked toward the tree as its last leaf. I looked up then placed a hand on the tree watching the last of its life crumble. A tear fell, the leaf hit the ground and all the chatter, noise, movement and commotion stopped as they all looked at the tree. They stared for a long moment till a frail voice spoke softly.

“In honour of this tree that watched us all and helped lift our spirits, we must listen to its wishes and change our greed and selfishness to peace, finally giving humanity a hand as we pull it off the edge of the steep mountain it’s been grasping desperately to hold on to, waiting for a voice to speak up and save it.”
As I went to walk away I watched the crowd now cheering and smiling with happiness. I looked up to the tree once more and sighed with relief as one more tear fell.
“Your name rests in my hand forever, I promise.”

Year 5/6 Short Story 

Highly Commended 

Name: Reshmi Senanayake
School: Canberra Girls Grammar School


The cool breeze entangled itself around my dark charcoal legs, while the silently rippling water, dipped with the enchantment of the beguiling moonlight, cast shadows upon my tanned shoulders. I closed my eyes as the loneliness and stillness of the night haunted me. I remember I waited that whole night under the stars, watching the minutes pass by, the blanket of coldness, disguised as the wind, flowing past me. In the morning, a dark hand tapped my shoulder and someone whispered, “Lawanna, they’re gone. Killed. By them.” My heart was shattered. They got my parents. They wouldn’t get me. So I started running. I followed the stars, those silky swirls of twinkling lights filling the picture book that is our universe. That’s what Jamuny told me anyway. He said that, “We must trust nature. Darling, we are always lost and the only thing to help us truly find ourselves is nature. It’s all you can trust and follow to find the pathway to light, to the horizon. I follow the red dust of the blessed earth, the rocky plains and the earthy grounds. What will you follow?” I replied instantly, “The stars, forevermore.” “Yes,” Jamuny said approvingly, “Just like your father.” That conversation I will never forget. It took place the night after mother and father died, a year after my two siblings disappeared. For the first time in my life, I had a despair ing feeling. Then someone else disappeared: me. I heard gruff voices echo in the uni verse, as their wild eyes, bloodthirsty and wicked, looked for me. “There’s another one!” shouted a man. White ghostly pale hands grabbed me as I pleaded for mercy. I was taken to their home, to learn their language, to wear their clothes. I even saw my sister, looking like an Englishman, draped in their culture and torn away from ours. “Where is he?” I asked, referring to my brother. She whispered in pure agony, “He was executed.” My world was spinning, my happiness slipping away. “We have to run,” I said. But she never came. I couldn’t save her but I saved myself. So there I was, free once more, lying under a star kissed sky, feeling the water of the streams and inhaling the scent of Mother Nature. I ran up a hill, pushing through the dirt until I reached the peak. And there I saw Jamuny, warm ing by the fire, blazing with flames, with the tongues of my culture roaring marvellously, like I had never left. And right there, at that very moment, a fire ignited in my heart, as glory swirled within.Yet, to the white people, the roars and flames of my culture are dwindling embers, whispers of a dying culture. I see the white men in the shadows, waiting to get me. On the edge of freedom I stand, the cool breeze lifting my spirits and blanketing my soul, the quiet sway of the gum trees, the laugh of the kookaburras echoing in the air.

Year 5/6 Short Story 

Highly Commended 

Name: Lana Sault
School: Canberra Girls Grammar School

Home turns into prison when you have never left your neighbourhood. You never get to experience the outside world when you haven’t left your neighbourhood. For eleven years I have been trapped inside my small house, not daring to venture outside. Ever since my mum left us, my dad has been very strict. I haven’t been able to go to school, to the neighbouring suburbs or have a chance to make friends. I have to hide from the dangers of the real world.

My sister, Emma, is exactly two years and five days younger than me. She was a one-year-old when my mum left us. My dad is so paranoid that we could leave that we have to stay here 24/7 (I think he has developed agoraphobia). For once, I wish that my sister and I could experience something new, something exciting. To journey far from our plain and boring neighbourhood, maybe to even leave the country. To live life to the fullest. To cross the border and journey far beyond.

Today is the day. I have had enough of this boring and monotonous life. I have forgotten what a supermarket looks like. I have forgotten what a school looks like. Today I want to remember what these places look like. I need someone to help me to achieve this.
“Emma, do you want to come with me and see what the real world looks like?” I ask, hoping she says yes.
“More than anything, but it is super risky Cameron. Do you have a plan?” she replies.
“I do, and all you need to do is follow me.”

As I stand on the edge of our suburb I feel ready. I feel eager to see what the world has in store for me. I step outside our suburb and look around. Nothing is perfect at all. I see an elderly man limping, struggling and in pain. I see a young lady crying, wishing things would go her way. I then see a young child begging for money, begging for acceptance. I see a man wearing a business suit, obviously wealthy, eye this child with disgust. No empathy, no heart. I realise how lucky I am, even if I am restricted as to what I can do. I walk up to this child, and after talking to him I walk home, as I know this child would be extremely grateful to be in my position. This experience makes me realise that my dad is trying to protect from the dangers of the world and that he loves me so much.

Year 7/8 Poetry 


Name: Allie Jeffery
School: Belconnen High School

Eucalyptus Tree

The hot sun beats me,
Day in, day out,
The sounds never cease,
In this barren place.

The wind whips my branches,
They creak and groan,
The blowing gale whispers promises
Of wishful wonders.

Red sand sweeps the ground,
Always swirling, never dodging,
Beating my smooth, white, worn trunk
Like a million ants biting me.

My broken leaves offer small comforts,
The smell has soothed me
For hundreds of years,
In this lonely place.

Roots hold me fast,
And still I stand upright,
The last survivor,
Of a drought once again.

All gone,
The dingos, the lizards, the flies,
No lakes or plants left but me,
On this empty plain.

Year 7/8 Poetry 

Highly Commended 

Name: Callum Webb
School: St. John Paul II College

Ash and balls of fire rained down from a cloud of sulphur. Mud and silt exploded as rocks hit the ground. Poisonous gases flooded out of gaping holes in the volcano’s surface and magma followed. Molten rock pooled in the lower areas of terrain and buildings burned yellow and green in the zinc-rich lava.
The pile of rock that used to be Mount Etna glowed an angry red, and helicopters roared in the sky, rotors just stirring up more toxic dust. Screams echoed as mothers held their children close, some people’s clothes on fire, and some bodies lying motionless on the scorched ground. Special ops forces hurried terrified people into cargo planes. One soldier, a middle-aged man named Eric, was leading a group of four through the swirling dust.
It was impossible to see, and danger in the form of sinkholes and flowing magma were everywhere. As fuzzy as sight was, nothing could compare to the roaring of the late Italian wind. Connecting everyone to the group was a rope tied around each person’s waist.
Tied to Eric was Giuseppe, a thirty-year-old café owner who lived alone. The next two were a mother and daughter. Three-year-old Stella and her mother, Rosa had been forced out of their home as their house burst into flames. And the last in the line, he was a mysterious man. No one knew much about him, not his age, occupation or his family. He sulked and had deep bags under his eyes, and had a black mustache under his nose.
Eric and other squadrons of soldiers had been sent to Italy to help after the volcano erupted for the first time; Eric and his comrades had been set right to the base of the front of the now solid lava rock and were delivering food, water and clothes. After a few days, people were starting to return to their burnt-out homes.
Eric’s group had been wandering through the thick black smoke, feeling their way along the flaming wasteland and hoping to find help. The dark-haired man felt the ground sink just a little, “RUN!” He yelled, as the ground gave way and emptied into a shallow cavern filled with oozing stone and magma. He and Stella fell backwards, and Eric grabbed the rope connecting them all together. The dark-haired man held Stella close to his chest. “Pull the rope! Haul them back up here!” Yelled Eric, while Giuseppe and Rosa struggling to hold the two people up. “We’re too heavy!” Yelled the dark-haired man, breathless. He pulled out a pocket knife and started to cut the rope. “What are you doing?!” Yelled Eric and Rosa in unison. “We’re too heavy! When I cut the rope, pull Stella up!” He said as he fell.
As Eric and Rosa pulled the crying baby girl up over the lip of the pit, they heard rotor blades and a searchlight behind them.

Year 9/10 – Poetry/Story


Name: India Kazakoff 
School: Canberra Grammar School

Your head feels heavy from carrying inside it your stone tongue
A static muscle that you can barely move, much less bite
For there are so many words you would take back
If only you could speak a word at all.
So many mistakes you would make, if only your body
Wasn’t the polished marble it felt like
You can’t move, you can’t speak, you can’t cry for help
You can’t jump from the edge you’re standing next to.
Below you, a short ravine away, you can just see
People. People like raging bushfires
So bright, so warm, so alive.
You can’t reach them. You can’t jump from the edge
And your stone wings, chained to your back
Could not carry you over to them.
They can’t see you – it’s as if you’re not there,
And if you could cry, tears would be falling
Just like you would fall if you could.
You think of how hopeless you are,
How you would jump given half the chance
And how the people below would become aware
Of you and your plight.
You wanted to spread your wings, to take flight.
So you dreamed you could. If you could close your eyes
You would, and you’d feel the wind in your face
(You can’t now – stone people can’t feel anything)
And your stiff wings would pulse
And you would finally be free and fly
You’d jump from the ledge, off the edge
And meet the people on the other side
Of the monumental ravine that separated you.

If you could open your eyes, you would.
Thing is, they were never closed in the first place.
You were never made of stone.
Your body was bright, warm, alive.
It was your heart that was caged
Limited by the materials you owned
The places you lived (or didn’t),
The people you knew.
You were never made of stone, and you feel
The wind on your face. Your head is light,
For you don’t carry a stone tongue
But you feel as though you do.
Shame does this to a person,
Makes them feel they don’t belong,
And what do you have to feel ashamed for?
You feel you cannot tell people of your pain,
You feel they are a million miles away,
That you are made of stone,
On an edge that you cannot bear to jump off
For fear of your stiff wings being unable
To pull you back up again.
Your lack of wealth makes you feel weak,
Ashamed, useless, unworthy.
You’re not made of marble –
You think marble’s too good for you.

It’s not good enough.
You are flesh, blood, skin, bones,
Your wings can lift you upward,
If you display the strength of stone
And the courage to finally jump
Off the edge.

Name: India Kazakoff
School: Canberra Grammar School

The midday sun flames on your skin
The pacific blues swallows you whole
The albatross above us screams your name
Signaling we’re about to arrive.
The salt, crusting my hair, eyes, lips,
Has steered clear of your person
And the only indication that you’re there at all
Is the subtle breeze that combs through your hair.

When the albatross screams again,
Nighttime is upon us. The stars,
Like pearls wrapped in deep velvet
Guide us on our quest.
Your eyes flare with hope and excitement
At the ebbing and flowing of the waves.
A current carries us further afield
Than we’ve ever been, further away
From our lives than we’ve ever been.
You hold your chin up, unafraid.

The sun is just rising when we reach it.
The place we’ve dreamed of for years
And years and years and years.
The current is stronger now,
Pulling us toward our imminent doom.
It’s so beautiful.

Salty tears drop from your eyes
And mingle with the ocean.
Our sailboat, catching wind,
Flies closer and closer.

Here it is, the hope, the dream,
The waterfall we’ve been waiting for.
The pacific ocean’s edge,
The edge of the world.
The water cascades off the side,
Creating rainbows with straying spray.

We thank the albatross, and shoot him down.
We have time to tie him around your neck
Before we are thrown apart and down,
Before we are thrown off the edge.

Year 9/10 – Poetry/Story

Highly Commended 

Name: Sam Johnson
School: Lyneham High School

The Edge of Existence

The void lies below me, an endless expanse of nothingness and beyond that an infinity of a darkness black enough to eclipse the night. As I pull my vessel up alongside it and stare down into that bottomless pit, I am suddenly awash with emotions. Fear, sadness and grief, but overwhelmingly determination. Many a person has made this journey, through whatever rough and tumultuous seas lay in their way, to sail their ships to the edge of this world and look down at whatever lies below, to taunt the darkness and the demons and life itself. Sometimes they come back, their longing for whatever small thing they realise this world still holds for them, but usually not. Perhaps a stray current pushes them over the edge, or they lean too far over in their fascination, or sometimes they just have nothing else to do but see what awaits for them in that dark abyss. I will most likely be one of the latter.

The void lies below me, the endpoint for a journey like no other. Looking down, there is an inexplicable sense of finality about it; a sense akin, perhaps, to that of a questing adventurer finally stumbling over that last craggy peak to gaze down upon whatever serene sight they have dedicated a lifetime of searching and hardship to. I am an adventurer too, I just didn’t know what I was searching for. The world threw hardships at me by the dozen, and through all of them I had thought I had lost my way. Then my troubled mind remembered this, a place where I could finally make for myself a name and purpose.

The void lies below me, the end of the world. Water rushes over the edge, like some massive waterfall, but this is no waterfall. In a waterfall the water falls somewhere. But the water here falls nonetheless, and to fall would mean the end of my time on this world. Perhaps simply the end of my time. But to fall is all I have left, for my ship and I, and now I wonder where all that water goes. It certainly seems more interesting than staying here.

The void lies below me, an epiphany of truth and lies. Out here it is just me, the water and it. It gives one time to think, and reflect. Reflect on the lies that have led me and so many others here, but also on the truths, the few true feelings that keep me here, not at this very moment plunging down into that dark abyss.

The void lies below me, cold. Cold, dark, merciless, unforgiving, final. I know where the water goes- nowhere. The sea is growing restless, rocking my boat closer and closer to the edge. And it’s cold, so cold. A breeze brushes past me, and I shiver, and then turn my boat for home.

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