Small school’s way with words wins nation’s top poetry prize

ABOVE: Poetry winner Liam Dau with Urbenville Public School principal Chris Sifko. Photo: Contributed

Susanna Freymark

Urbenville School students travelled six hours to Gunnedah to recite poetry yesterday, Friday, September 2.

The trip was worth it. They came back winners of the prestigious Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards.

The school was awarded the highest honour ­‑ winning the primary school section and the national school winner.

For a school of 21 students, it is an outstanding achievement. And they beat 800 other schools to take out the two awards.

The winning didn’t stop there.

Student Liam Dau in year 5 won the David Maher Award for his poem The Brumbies.

Here’s the first part of his poem.

The brumbies are majestic, they are wild and untamed

Intelligent, brave of Snowy River fame

Watching them as they gallop through the mountain snow

The stallion moves them to the water hole he knows

Always alert, he protects his herd, his foals and all his mares

Never stopping, ears are pricked, constantly aware

Here are the results of other Urbenville students at the Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards.


Faith Sheargold Close to Home

Amelia Russ Dial Tone

Gabby McGrath In the blink of an eye

Highly Commended

Amelia Russ Riptide


Bella Pittman The Last Leaf

Teacher Mel Sifko said she was so proud.

“Without the each and every student putting in 100% to their poetry we would never have been able to achieve this accolade,” she said.

A week ago, Urbenville student Amelia took part in the John West Poetry Cup at the Byron Bay Writers Festival.

Nine year old Amelia Russ was the youngest participant in a competition of poets aged up to 18 years.

All competitors wrote and recited their original poems.

Amelia read her poem Riptide and was announced as the runner-up.

“The audience were in tears. She recited her poem flawlessly,” Ms Sifko said.

Amelia Russ read her poem Riptide at the Byron Writers Festival.

Urbenville School runs a regular Dead Poets Society where students learn about poets such as Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson and William Wordsworth.

Old Bonalbo and Drake schools recently came to Urbenville School for the Banjo Paterson Poetry Collective Competition.

It wasn’t surprising that the Urbenville School students won the competition.

They have a wonderful way with words and for such a small school they are excelling with those words.

Poetry cup winners.
PUBLISHED: The absolute delight in Amelia’s face when she sees her poem in a book

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