The genesis of a memory, for moments worth stealing,
this essence that blankets, is my psalm while I'm kneeling, 
"thank you", the only words for the person it's revealing,
my manifested mantra, I have found my healing.

~ from 'The Small Chest of Sand' by Matthew Heffernan.


The most exciting part of being invited to contribute to the Poetry Object project for me, has been the opportunity to share my love of “expression” in one of its most (at least in a modern sense), underappreciated forms.  The opportunity to be involved with schools is also quite humbling, although I did poetry at school, it was always delivered as part of a larger literary exploration, rather than this tool or expression that can get you through the toughest times of your life.

My process for approaching poetry object involved sitting down by myself with a pen and pad, a cup of tea and some music. I’m at my most creative when I am about to sleep, so I try to recreate the feeling of calm and relaxation to get into that same state. I had to think about what objects are in my life, and whether they have any significance worth writing about, this included remembering how and why those objects came into my life.

I ended up choosing a small box of red sand, because it was a gift I received from a friend/mentor. She had collected the red sand from my “spiritual” home of central Australia when she had lived and worked there. I was born in Alice Springs and my mother is Indigenous (pintupi-Luritja) to the region. In our way of understanding, we have always existed on that land, going as far back as memory can serve until it is interlaced with mythology. In addition to this, I was going through a pretty tumultuous time at work, and the gift and also my friend’s constant encouragement helped me get through that. I chose to write about this object, because it means so much to me. I didn’t have to force myself to find significance or words. the meaning is already there, waiting to be written about, whether that’s remembering how the red sand in central Australia smells after rain, or remembering it’s profound connection to who I am as an Indigenous person.




Matthew Heffernan is a commisioned poet for Red Room Poetry Object.

Matthew is an Indigenous/Irish man, who was introduced to poetry through song writing and particularly the Hip Hop culture. Matthew has performed as a rapper in a variety of settings across the Northern Territory and Australia, and now draws on the idiosyncrasies of this art-form as a basis for all his writing. Hailing from Alice Springs but calling Darwin home.... read more »


To find out more:

The Red Room Poetry Object »
Red Room Poetry Object is a poetry writing competition inviting young writers and their teachers from across Australia and New Zealand to submit poems about 'talismanic' objects that are special to them. Red Room Poetry Object is open to students in grades 3-10 and their teachers. In 2015, Red Room Poetry Object linked over 160 school communities and published 2560 student and teacher poems.