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The School

Coreen is an aboriginal word meaning "the last of the hills".

Coreen School was established as a special school for children with learning difficulties in January 1970. Prior to this, four classrooms had occupied the site for some years as an annexe to Blacktown Public School. During 1977 a major programme of renovations and additions was undertaken by the Department of Public Works. Designed originally to cater for children from infants through secondary ages, Coreen contains classrooms which may be used in a variety of ways, due to the flexible nature of the design.
Coreen School is now a NSW Department of Education school for high school students with assessed additional needs in learning and behaviour. Students are referred to Coreen School through a regional placement panel and parents inspect the school prior to enrolment.

The Project

Red Room Poetry’s Youth Unlocked collaborates with students, teachers and educational communities in Behavioural Intervention Centres and Juvenile Justice Centres to deepen encounters with poetry.

In 2019 in a series of four workshops across May and June, RR poet Kirli Saunders and artist David Cragg collaborated with students at Coreen School to create original poems both individually and in groups. These workshops focused on themes of community, family and belonging, as well as connection to the Earth with First Nations perspectives. Workshops were held on 21 May, 28 May 21, 4 June and 11 June 2019.

Students will work to turn poetry into poetic art, utilise Virtual Reality headsets, and virtually spray their poems to create their pieces. David Cragg will also create a mural at the school, incorporating both the written and visual work created by the students. 

Read the student poems here.

The Poet

Kirli Saunders

Kirli Saunders is a proud Gunai Woman and an award-winning international Children’s Author and Poet as well as a Teacher, and emerging Artist. She created and led Red Room Poetry's Poetry in First Languages program from its conception until July 2020. Her debut picture book The Incredible Freedom Machines was shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards and CBCA notables. Her poetry collection, Kindred was shortlisted for the ABIA 2020 Book Awards and FAB Booktopia Awards. She is the inaugural winner of the Daisy Utemorrah Award and University of Canberra ATSI Poetry prize (2019). She is an esteemed judge for the Val Vallis Poetry Prize. Kirli is the 2020 NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year.



Taking a dream from conception to delivery – Poetry in First Languages – Kirli Saunders