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2 July 2020

Voice for the Voiceless Poetry competition

Think of Dead Poet’s Society’s scenes of red-cheeked enthusiastic and passionate chaps standing on desks and…

Think of Dead Poet’s Society’s scenes of red-cheeked enthusiastic and passionate chaps standing on desks and reciting verses as their teacher, John Keating, encourages his scholars to ‘make your lives extraordinary’, a sentiment he summarises with the expression carpe diem.

So it is that our Year 11 students “seize the day” in this special poetry competition. In Ms Graziano’s class this term, boys had the opportunity to analyse a range of poems in which the authors provide a voice to a voiceless group in society. This unit culminates with the students then applying their knowledge of the language and stylistic features of poetry to create a powerful piece of their own, and to share it via video.

Judges Armon Houshmand and Trung Nguyen scoring each poem against the all-important criteria.

Prizes were awarded to two winning entries. Kevin Mach’s Ink & Bleach, which looks at the current state of race relations in the US, is a powerful poem that voices the victims of police brutality. The use of repetition of the phrase, ‘You tell them’ alludes to the Emancipation Proclamation which promised meaningful freedom to African Americans. The visual montage of the BLM protests around the world mirrors the intensity of the poem’s linguistic features.

The second winning poem by Bao Nguyen, The Forgotten War, gives voice to the soldiers who have been victims of brutal wars over the eons. The use of sharp visual images is exceptionally useful in communicating this message. I was especially enthralled by the use of evocative piano notes to depict what is going on in the poem – the more robust the words, the more dramatic the crescendo becomes. But it is the reversal of the signs at the end that sends chills down one’s spine as the whole poem needs to be read backwards to be fully grasped.

Winners Kevin and Bao with the judges.

Thanks to Ms Graziano for her exceptional work with this class, and to Year 12 students Trung Nguyen and Armon Houshmand for taking the time to judge these entries. We hope to see more interest and creative entries next year.

Mr Alex Ng’eno