Student Poetry Competition 2022: Years 3-4

From inclement weather to writer’s block – the winning entries in the Year 3-4 category for this year’s Student Poetry Competition covered a range of themes and styles.

Congratulations Emily Lam (Presbyterian Ladies’ College), Arthur Hall (Cornish College), Naushali Anne Navaratne (Harkaway Hills College) and all of those who received honourable mentions.


The competition, part of the Arts Learning Festival, was open to students from all school sectors, and attracted more than 500 entries.

‘A poem that makes readers feel what the poet feels, giving them much to think about as they read and re-read. ’
Written poetry – Emily Lam, Year 4, Presbyterian Ladies' College


I step out of the plane

into the busy bright lights – A new world I don’t understand.

“Yuen Ling,” says my beloved mama, “You are lucky to come here.”


I don’t think so.

Starting at an Australian school

New schoolbag, new uniform.

“You will fit in just fine,” says my mama proudly.

I don’t agree, I want to run away, hide.

But then, I see the pride shining in my mama’s eyes and I know,

I can’t let her down.

So I fight through realms of emotions and walk away.

But then

I see them – Australian kids, so different in practically everything.

Will I ever fit in?

At least I’m dressed just like


A loud tuneless tone sounds…the kids rush off.

All but one. Who lingers to peer at me.

“ 那是什么声音” I blurt – Nà shì shénme shēngyīn – what was that sound?

The kid looks at me – like I’m

dirt she would dearly like to brush


“Nà shì shénme shēngyīn,” I repeat.

She smirks, “Are you crazy or what?”

I realise she can’t speak Chinese –

I’m left with a strange sense

of loneliness, being isolated from the only language I know.

The rest of the day is 折磨, torture.

New words like squiggles across the page.

The teacher yelling at me, stressing some words in particular.

The class laughing at me. The class staring at me

Lunch – I take out my noodles

All the class has brought Vegemite sandwiches.

Where are the char siu paus and the pork and chive dumplings?

Oh, I’m desperate for the taste of home.

“It will get better,” says mama.

I don’t think so.

At least I know basic English now.

Days go by – I finesse my vocabulary.

And the next week the teacher says, “class…we…doing.project.telling…class..about family”

English….hard! But I think I’ve got the picture.


“Ni hao” Tentatively, I give my pre-rehearsed speech… the hard bit.

“I am from China, my family also from China….and I am proud of my culture.

But mama moved here to give us a better education….She was brave…”

“Every year my family celebrates Chinese New Year. We toss a salad with chopsticks..”

I go on sharing my family and my culture

Because I am proud of them.

Even if I don’t belong here because of it.

And when I reach the end of my speech. I produce a tiny little Rainbow Prosperity Salad to share,

“I like it!” and “Me too,” people agree.

So I pass round the chopsticks

and teach everyone how to toss the salad.

And as I watch the kids tossing the salad and trying to use chopsticks, even trying to speak Chinese,

I realise belonging comes with you,

Because I’ve just felt for the first time, that




‘A clever and fun romp through history that leaves a smile on the reader’s face. ’
Written poetry – Arthur Hall, Year 4, Cornish College

‘What to Write’

Something that happens to me every day,

The constant fact I can never think of what to write.

Computers? Dragons? Knights?

This is the every day fact of me.

Magic? Animals? Elements?

I’m not sure what gets into me!

Biology? Astronomy? Chemistry?

This always drives me crazy!

Egyptians? Romans? Greeks?

Why does this get into me!

Incas? Aztecs? The new world?

I always feel like my brain is about to explode!

The crusades? Battle of Hastings? The bubonic plague?

My poor heart is pumping faster than I have ever known!

Renaissance? 1600s? Discovery of Australia?

My poor hands are throbbing!

War of independence? George Washington? Abraham Lincoln?

I think I’m sobbing!

The American civil war? World war 1? The roaring twenties?

I’m literally sweating!

World war 2? The rise of the United Nations? The Cold War?

I so badly want to scream!

Nelson Mandela? Year 2000? The Covid-19 pandemic?

Then, the school bell rings.

The teacher says, “pack away your things!”

I thought, alas, I’ll think of something tomorrow!

‘Clear, crisp, effective use of intonation, rhythm, and pacing in this fun-filled performance. ’
Performance poetry – Naushali Anne Navaratne, Year 3, Harkaway Hills College

‘It’s Raining Cats and Dogs’


Honourable mentions

Written poetry

  • Seth Atley – Year 4, Cornish College – ‘Hard Choices’
  • Adele Bilney – Year 4, Ivanhoe Girls Grammar School – ‘In Late December’
  • Amber Chang – Year 4, Strathcona Girls’ Grammar School – ‘Tennis’
  • Ariana Fais – Year 4, Shelford Girls Grammar – ‘Puppy’
  • Akshaya Matcha – Year 4, Plenty Valley Christian College – ‘Australian Animals’
  • Rhyanna – Year 4, Stella Maris Catholic Primary School – ‘Existence’
  • Shifra Sacks-Frosh – Year 3, Sholem Aleichem College – ‘Piano Fingers’
  • Raphael Sawyer – Year 3, Lysterfield Lake College – ‘We Belong to Australia’
  • Aafreen Shiekh – Year 4, Al Siraat College – ‘The Night Sky’
  • Sophie Vega-Hennessy – Year 4, Cornish College – ‘The Gum Tree’
  • Miriam Wallbridge – Year 3, Strathcona Girls Grammar – ‘The Sun’
  • Zaid Zuhair – Year 4, Fitra Community School – ‘The Honeybee’

Performance poetry

  • Safa Moshen – Year 4, Al-Taqwa College – ‘Australia is Where you Belong’
  • Natalie Rezach – Year 3, Plenty Valley Christian College – ‘My New Country Stands’


Read and watch more from this year’s Student Poetry Competition.