Presented by Independent Schools Victoria

Student Poetry Competition 2020 – entries now closed


Suitable for

All year levels

Young poets reveal creative skills and inner strengths in a time of crisis

  Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, entries in a poetry competition run by Independent Schools Victoria have highlighted the resilience, strength and optimism of school students – as well as their creative writing ability.   ISV today announced the winners of its inaugural poetry competition, which was open to students of all ages at all schools across Victoria.   The winners were judged from more than 300 entries from students from prep to year 12 enrolled in Independent, Government and Catholic schools, as well as some who are home-schooled.   Students were asked to write on any subject, with the optional theme of ‘Hope’. The competition was announced before the Covid-19 outbreak and before students were subject to the disruption of remote learning.   Judges in the competition commended the winners on the style, imagery and structure of their writing, creating poems that were sophisticated, stimulating, under-stated and thoughtful.   Announcing the winners, ISV Chief Executive Michelle Green said she was impressed by the creative confidence and optimism of the poems.   ‘They have drawn on nature, natural disasters and personal experience to find strength and confidence in extremely difficult times,’ Ms Green said.   ‘I was struck by the lines in year 4 student Mehak Soin’s poem Silver Lining:  
We are braver than we believe We are stronger that we seem Tough times never last
  ‘These poems confirm that many of our young people not only have great writing talent, but an inner strength and resilience that is not always recognised.’   The songwriter and poet Paul Kelly had supported the competition, through a video in which he talked about what poetry means to him and where he recited a favourite poem, Hope is the thing with feathers, by Emily Dickinson.   The poetry competition is part of ISV's Arts Learning Festival, and follows a short story competition run last year.   The festival is part of ISV’s long-standing commitment to the role of the arts as an integral part of school education.   The poetry competition winners are:  

Prep-Year 2

Winter, by Adele Bilney, Year 2, Ivanhoe Girls' Grammar School

Years 3-4

Silver Lining, by Mehak Soin, Year 4, Melbourne Girls Grammar

Years 5-6

After the Fire, by Felicity van Rensburg, Year 5, Harkaway Hills College

Years 7-8

Hope, by Ravin Rathnayake, Year 8, Haileybury College Edrington

Years 9-10

Hope in a Whistle, by Haelie Roberts, Year 9, Olivet Christian College

Years 11-12

Summer Longings, by Derek Villaceran, Year 12, Lilydale High School   You can read each poem by clicking on the link, as well as students who received honourable mentions for their outstanding work.   The students have recorded videos reciting their poems, and we will be featuring them this week on ISV's The Parents Website.

What the judges said...

Congratulations to everyone who participated in this competition. While not everyone could receive a prize or commendation, we hope that you all found the experience a rewarding one and one that encourages you to write and read more poetry, and literature generally, in the future. We applaud your collective efforts and thank you for them.   We were delighted by the overall quality of the poems. Without a doubt, we do have an amazing range of able poets within our schools. As judges, we are unanimous in the view that identifying the winning poems was no easy task. Besides, we recognise that different judges may have arrived at different outcomes as the exercise is quite a subjective one.   The task of condensing the entries, over 300 and each clamouring for consideration, to six winners and several honourable mentions was an onerous but enjoyable one. We look forward to celebrating and highlighting the depth and breadth of the entries further, when our Poetry Anthology is released later in 2020.   Initially, the judges read all of the works at least twice, each creating their own shortlist. After viewing all shortlists, judges had the opportunity to add further poems to those lists.   There was much lively debate and some poems were sent further afield for consideration. Judges then finalised the shortlists which were then the subject of even more discussion and debate until a final consensus was achieved.   There was a range of features that we looked for in the entries judged. One was a distinguishing style and musicality, where the young poet utilised the music of their phrases. Another involved the imagery created and its impact. It may have been a sharply described sensory impression or a metaphorical comparison that allowed the reader to see things as though for the first time.   We looked for lines that touched deep emotions and were thought-provoking. Skillful structure with memorable lines were also considered. Sometimes this meant that good poems could have been even better if they had been edited down. Powerfully understated last lines or captivating beginning lines were also applauded.   Again, our congratulations and thanks to participants.