Young poets Scott Craythorn, left, of South Grafton High School (SGHS), Matthew Whitby, also SGHS, Amanda Matthews, of Grafton
Young poets Scott Craythorn, left, of South Grafton High School (SGHS), Matthew Whitby, also SGHS, Amanda Matthews, of Grafton

Poetry cool at school

By Emma Cornford

Poetry does not exactly have the tag of 'cool' attached these days, but a group of Clarence Valley students are out to try and change that.

The six Year 11 students from South Grafton and Grafton High schools have been meeting to revamp the image of the John Moorhead Memorial Poetry Prize, which did not go ahead last year for lack of entries.

"This has been really fun to do, and it's transformed a plain old poetry competition into something a bit different and fun," said South High student Casey Northam.

"But we're hoping this isn't just a one-off thing and that some more students take charge of it next year to keep it all going."

The students, all keen writers themselves, have embraced the challenge and come up with a number of avenues to promote the competition.

They include national radio coverage on youth network Triple J, local coverage in a number of media outlets and an in-school poster competition.

"We decided to get the poster competition happening because we want to get everyone involved, and people don't just think 'oh no, not the English nerds at it again'," said Casey.

Bianca Schleppi, also from South High, said utilising a poster competition would help draw attention to the poetry prize.

"There are just so many poetry competition posters stuck up on notice boards at school, so if we want ours to stand out then it has to be artistic," she said.

"Hopefully it will draw more entries which will help lift the standard of the competition as well."

The group has divided the $1000 major prize into three age categories, 19-24, 16-18 and junior, to ensure younger people are not too intimidated to enter, and have simplified the theme to 'river'.

"It's a really good local competition and it will be good if we can get it up and running with a lot of people entering," said South High student Scott Craythorn.

"It feels really good to actually start something like this, especially because it's local and close to home," said Bianca.

"I think it will be good."

The group said the in-school poster competition would be judged before the holidays and entries for the poetry prize would close on August 7.



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