Winning Entries 2017

Congratulations to everyone who entered the Pens Against Poverty Writing Competition in 2017. The quality of writing was outstanding and proof that the ACT boasts very promising young writers!

Over 19 Public, Independent and Catholic schools took part and we received over 200 entries overall which was encouraging for our very first year! We are looking forward to even more entries in 2018.

Big prizes were donated by our sponsors,  AJ Gallagher, Hesta as well as books personally donated and signed by Jackie French!

Winners were also announced in the Canberra Times:

View our winning entries below

2017 award winners and sponsors
Outstanding Overall Writer (Senior)
Leo Barnard (Year 10) -Canberra Grammar School

In the days before time, God made paradise
He planted the seeds of a gentle garden
Eastern Eden of chartreuse green
And He made us for to it, by bone and dust
Kindly landlord of heaven on earth

When Adam and Eve walked in Eden
Did they know what lay beyond the garden’s end
If it were their kindred cousins born of blood and bone,
Or the monsters that God abandoned
So his children might dream in paradise

And his children forgot about the outside
Lost inside the garden’s depths
They become enamoured with their own lives
Those who live in gentle Eden forget those who lurk outside
And Adam and Eve cared not for monsters nor kin

Then things changed, by no fault of their own.
They ate the forbidden fruits of summer trees,
Led by the Serpent of Eden,
Led by the King of Crossroads
Insidious evils whispered in their ears and paradise burned.

Kindly landlord turned wrathful, banished tenants remorseful
Adam and Eve found themselves on the wrong side of Eden
And they asked themselves, what am I now?
A cousin of the beings that now slept inside the garden
Or a cruel beast that God had given up on

Outstanding Overall Writer (and winner of Years 3/4 Short Story)
Ella Stone (Year 4) – Canberra Girls Grammar

A Glimpse of Darkness

Imagine a world far out of sight,
That feels as lonely as a cold winter night,
A place that brings fear to those who hope,
And makes you feel you are unable to cope.

With darkness all around,
From the sky down to the ground,
No happiness can be found,
The words you speak make no sound.

Empty and bare,
Endless space everywhere,
Everything the same,
Boring and plain.

In a storm trees bend over low,
Leaves fall off with every blow,
Dust rises up into the air,
Echoes come out of nowhere.

Sometimes I have dreams,
Where this is how the world seems,
And when I finally wake,
I see rays of light at daybreak.

New thoughts combine with the old,
Allowing new perspectives to unfold,
You can look at things during nights and days,
And deal with problems in different ways.

Winner Years 3/4 Story
Nick Curtis (Year 4) – St Bede’s Primary School

“I see my hands don’t move because I’m worried that we won’t escape from this place”. Syria 2004
Chapter 1: One bad hospital.
I was born with cerebral palsy in a bed in a hospital that had only three rooms. I was born in the second room. It was one bad hospital and it was an hour’s walk from home. Our house smells of smoke and our dinner has gotten ruined.
Chapter 2: A refugee Syria January. 2017
“My name, what was it again? Oh right, it’s Alexander” My brother is calling out to me to come on a plane to a place called Australia with him. My brother pushes my wheelchair on to the plane and my brother said “ Andrew, do you ever, ever wonder what it is like on the other side? “.
Chapter 3: Life on the Other Side in Canberra
We land in a place called Canberra and the way people spoke was really unusual. We couldn’t understand what they were saying because we didn’t speak English. We found a house to live in a place called Manuka. There was also a thing called a car where you travel around without moving your feet. But wheels move for you and what powers the car is this black liquid called petrol. You get this hose at the garage and you put the petrol into a tank in the car through a small tube on side of the car. When we got home in the car we watched the television. I still didn’t know what they were saying but it was fun to watch the pictures moving. I felt safe here and I was so happy to be away from Syria. I was on the other side now.

Highly Commended Years 3/4 Story
Jess Kowalski (Year 4) – St Bede’s Primary School

Sleeping on park benches, hard floors or anything else, that is not right Nobody should be forced to sleep this way! There are bad people around that can threaten, harm and do other hurtful things too. So get these people of the streets and let them have safe shelter and something comfortable to sleep on so they are not sleeping on the cold ground. I know about someone named Jodie. She sits on the side of a lake every day and all she has to keep warm is a thin layer of clothing and a small blanket. She was cold and scared of the angry animals and bad people. Sleeping on cold, wet, grass and having a trolley full of scrapes or old and out of date food, really? That is not good for Jodie, it’s not good for anyone especially a little girl. All it does is make people sick. Let’s get these people some fresh food and make it good and healthy. Don’t just stand there people, get them something to eat, something healthy and some water to drink .Don’t judge people by their looks. This girl is so sad and cold. The winter is long and the summer is too hot. Please cool me down when it’s too hot!. Please warm me up when it too cold! Please help me so I can have a better life in the future. I want to be on the other side.

Winner Years 3/4 Poetry
Sea Cela (Year 4) – St Thomas Aquinas School

Cold and icy over there.
At the other side beware.
For all the humans live there.
Be careful if you dare.

Winner Years 5/6 Short Story
Hannah Knight (Year 5) – Canberra Grammar School


Highly Commended Years 5/6 Short Story
Reshmi Senanayake (Year 6) – Canberra Grammar School


Winner Years 5/6 Poetry
Tamara Brammal (Year 5) – St John Vianney’s Primary School

The Prophecy Of Poverty

The helpless children’s calls ring out
And we hear the mother’s needless cries
As travellers pass by and hear their shouts
As they pass along poverty’s shore, shore, shore
As they pass along poverty’s shore

Oh the blanketed death will fall
And true life they will never know
As it is taken before it’s begun
From a child no older than four, four, four
From a child no older than four

As poverty’s death toll shall strike
Man, woman and child will endure not another cold night
As family’s legacy dies in pain
As all ages pass through to the other side, side, side
As all ages pass through to the other side

Not all shall pass through
As some loiter on the edge of the two
And some pass to the other side and then come back
And others will get close but never return, return, return
And others will get close but never return

When one young traveller will hear the calls
And take pity on those who plead them
The cycle of death will draw to a halt
As a life is saved by compassion and love, love, love
As a life is saved by compassion and love

When one by one the people are saved
Everyone will worship the name
Of the person of whom saved the day
And gave the people life, life, life
And gave the people life

When food and water become scarce
And people’s lives are at stake
Who will be there to help those in need
And fulfil the mission of that lone traveller, traveller, traveller
And fulfil the mission of that lone traveller

For those who grasp life’s hilt
And swing the sword of opportunity
Be ready to help those
In a state of poverty, poverty, poverty
In a state of poverty

When poverty is beat back to the verge of crossing the other side
Do not stop to let it rest
For if it regenerates life
It will come back stronger than ever, ever, ever
It will come back stronger than ever

Winner Years 7/8 Poetry/Story 
Lara Wade (Year 8) – Belconnen High School

Sonnet: Endless Night


Dragging my feet on the endless street

Although I at least still have somewhere to go

Busy thinking about what I will eat

Will things get easier, I don’t know

Turning round the bend and seeing our front gate

Gripping the doorknob and walking in

My children sitting on the couch as they wait

I send one out to put the trash in the bin

There’s another letter waiting in the mail

Another resume declined again

Another interview another fail

More of my effort flushed down the drain

Although I may try as I might

I will not fail without a fight


Highly Commended Years 7/8 Poetry/Story
Alexandra Vickery (Year 7) – Telopea Park School


It was a full moon tonight, Somnio noted as he picked up the test tubes lying discarded on the table, placing them back in their stands. The laboratory was dead silent, apart from a soft rustling coming from the rat box. Somnio dusted off his lab coat and walked over to the rats. As an intern, he wasn’t allowed to conduct any experiments on them yet, but he watched them from his bench each day. The rats were all sleeping, their fur lying flat. Somnio sat down on a nearby stool and rested his head on the desk, peering through the glass, wondering what it would be like to be a lab rat…
Videris woke to the bang of the door opening. Another day where she and her friends would run through tunnels and be injected with chemicals. It would be a full moon tonight, Videris noted, spying the lunar calendar the scientists kept on the wall. Behind her, Alcedonia woke up and wandered over.
“I think we may be getting shots today.” she told Videris, in her usual, calm, elegant tone. Shots. Combining the experiences of being grabbed, and then poked with a sharp needle made shots one of Videris’s least favourite activities, second only to rat poison testing. The two looked through their glass case and saw the new intern putting out some equipment, before an older scientist grabbed it and marched off. Over on the other side of the glass, there was hatred and rivalry, whereas here there was only peace and a wanting to get through each day. The door opened again. The big, middle-aged man who conducted the shots trials walked in, and headed straight for their box. Videris cowered back, then heard Alcedonia sigh, before smiling back at her as she was lifted out of the box, still as calm as ever. It would be her turn next. Videris turned around to see the intern looking over at her from the other side of the room. Videris saw him; she saw the curiosity, the joy of getting to work in an exciting new place, but she also saw the sadness of being controlled, of doing nothing but watch the world pass by. Suddenly it was her turn. Videris felt herself being unceremoniously lifted out of her box, and carried over to the special experiment area. In the corner of her eye she could see Alcedonia, asleep, being carried back to their box. Videris started to turn her head to see the man who would experiment on her, but just as
she caught the glimpse of his face at the edge of her view, she felt the jab of the needle and
her sight went black.
“Wake up Somnio! You’ve been lying there all night, sleepyhead!” The other intern, Risus
was poking him. Somnio groaned, before lifting his head off the desk, looking through the
glass to the rats, who were just beginning to stir. How many stories did the glass box hide?

Highly Commended Years 9/10 Poetry/Story
Shabnam Mohamad Shafiq (Year 10) – Merici College

Forgive me, my friend

Do not worry my dear friend,
Don’t you dare cry,
All this suffering will come to an end,
Please let those tears dry.

All the money in my bank,
Please take it all.
All the water in my tank,
Please take it all.

Take the roof over my head,
And take my walls as well.
Don’t forget my comfortable bed,
You may use it to sleep or to sell.

My shoes and clothes are all yours to keep,
Along with all the food in my home.
You can have my blankets to sleep,
And to brush your hair – a comb.

All my life, I have been ungrateful,
Nothing was ever enough.
I have lived a life so very disgraceful,
Whilst you were sleeping rough.

My words are not enough to apologise,
So I will give you all that I have.
It is time now that I realize,
I have more than enough to be glad.

Forgive me for taking and taking,
Never saying ‘thank you’ in return.
Now to you I will keep giving and giving,
For giving is the greatest lesson I have learnt.







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