Student Poetry Competition 2022: Years 9-10

Conflicting emotions are evident across the winning entries in the Year 9-10 category for this year’s Student Poetry Competition.

Congratulations to Suri Liu (Carey Baptist Grammar School), Helena Mazer (Bialik College), Ethan Lust (Bialik 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.

‘An arresting poem likely to leave the reader unsettled, exercising power over them long after the first reading.’
Written poetry – Suri Liu, Year 10, Carey Baptist Grammar School

‘white-washed; I will never stop stealing back what is mine’

/white wash./
to make something bad seem acceptable by hiding the truth.
someone forgetting the truth to survive.


when you call me white washed;
is that your secret apology? is that your obscured admittance to the crimes committed on others like me? is that you pleading guilty?


when you call me white-washed;
do you mean the way i learnt to wash out my half-abandoned mother tongue with your bleached lye soap at the tender age of five? do you mean the way i grew up dry heaving your coarse white salt until my throat parched and my mouth crumbled into yellow peril, (though you will still accuse me of gluttony when i swallow it) until assimilation became a drought that ravaged me down to the bones?
do you mean for me to strip off my yellow-toned skin and hang it off to dry when i step into the bath, scrub my face of all ethnic features until i am beautiful like you, to crease my eyelids and tear out my coloured roots until i become a blank canvas for your dead stare?
[this is racial hygiene and i am unclean.]


i’ll confess, it is true. i did not grow up like you.
as in, i was not told the same folklore & fairytales like you.
my grandmother used to read me bedtime histories of her homeland. she murmured of jaded mountain ranges, impenetrable forests and a gentle snow that smothered everything. she speaks of a time long ago; velvet carpets of damp moss, mud-straw houses hard as stone, the coal dust that took to the sky when her young feet kicked at the earth.


“do not forget who you are.”
my ancestors were the dragon people of the east, (coarse immigrant blood), red like the sky, like pride, like honour & discipline, dynasties spanning millennia— my grandparents grew up swallowing stones, eating dirt beneath patriotic winds. my fore-bearers toiled day and night in rice fields and temples and coal mines so i could enter paradise. you grew up at home, i grew up homesick.


like a snake shedding its chipped scales, i tear off the layers of dead skin wrapped around my shoulders, a strangling cape fit for kings. it is a breakage of my soul most deep, eroded by segregating tides, i burn beneath your floods, small embers drowned by dissolving & acidic waves, now this— this is white-washing.
when you exotify what you cannot erase, assimilate what you cannot annihilate, condemn what you cannot appropriate.


white-washing? you, prowling.
ready to steal my skin & sell it back to my mother for profit.

‘Confident articulation of the conflicting emotions that reside within the human psyche when it comes to belonging.’
Performance poetry – Helena Mazer, Year 9, Bialik College

‘But I Love Them’


‘An enthused performance successfully displaying the conflicting face of Summer.’
Performance poetry – Ethan Lust, Year 9, Bialik College

‘Blissful Ignorance’


Honourable mentions

Written poetry

  • Adelaide – Year 9, Olivet Christian College – ‘Mystery in the Flames’
  • Gauri Ahlawat – Year 9, Yarra Valley Grammar – ‘Who am I?’
  • Aurora Buckland – Year 9, Hazel Glen College – ‘We Don’t Speak with Words’
  • Alexis Dennis – Year 9, Balcombe Grammar School – ‘Belonging’
  • Caitlin Jong – Year 10, Strathcona Girls’ Grammar School – ‘In Chains’
  • Yi Luan – Year 10, Tintern Grammar – ‘Miss Z’
  • Ellie Robson – Year 10, Tintern Grammar – ‘Longing’
  • Kashi Rubio – Year 10, Christian College Geelong – ‘Home’
  • Braeden van de Beek – Year 10, John Monash Science School – ‘Hope’
  • Jasmine Xiong – Year 9, Tintern Grammar – ‘The Eternal Cage’

Performance poetry

  • Juliet Beattie – Year 9, Carey Baptist Grammar School – ‘Stars’
  • Elise Curry – Year 10, Ruyton Girls’ School – ‘A Letter to You and Me’
  • Mimi Davison – Year 10, Firbank Grammar – ‘The Rose of Belonging’
  • Noa Hansen – Year 9, Bialik College – ‘The Other Ones’
  • Saul Howells – Year 10, Ruyton Girls’ School – ‘Blank Script’
  • Maati – Year 9, Yarra Valley Grammar – ‘Ten Teens’
  • Charvi Shetty – Year 9, Haileybury College – ‘Being Underwater’
  • Eden Voskoboynik – Year 9, Bialik College – ‘Embers’
  • Skye Weddell – Year 9, Firbank Grammar School – ‘What it Means to Belong’
  • Sophia Wolff – Year 9, Bialik College – ‘Drowning’


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