Haikus and other poems


Three Territorians — two students and one teacher — have been shortlisted for a Red Room Poetry Object award.

Touted as Australasia’s largest free poetry writing competition for years 3 to 10 students, and their teachers, the submissions joined more than 2350 entries inspired by treasured, curious or talismanic objects.

Amy Maree, a Wagaman Primary School student, eclipsed other contenders with her poem A Dear Friend’s Memory, Girraween Primary School student Brianna Wilson secured her place with Little Girl, and Dawnie Tagala, a Casuarina Senior College teacher, won accolades for her work The End: A series of haikus.

Dawnie Tagala said her work mirrored her introspection, and her joy at being newly unshackled from troubling thoughts.

“These haikus reveal how much of an introspective person I can be,” she said. “I reflect on things that occur in my life with depth; sometimes a little too much.

“The poem was written as a means to celebrate a recent liberation from thoughts that have been bothering me for some time.

“When I wrote the piece, I remember feeling a weight being lifted off my shoulders, and I wanted to record the sensation.

“I’ve written haikus over the years, each paired with an artwork I’ve done or a photograph I’ve taken.”

Miss Tagala said she was surprised the work — so personal and relevant to her life — could be understood by others.

The Red Room Poetry Object entry was designed to challenge her students to make submissions.

“I keep inviting my students to join all sorts of contests related to the subjects I teach,” she said.

“When I found out this competition had a category for teachers, I saw it as an opportunity to be a model to my students so they could see there was no harm in participating.”

She wonders if the haikus confused the judges.

“I thought there might be people in the selection board that were challenged by trying to decode what the poems meant,” she said.

“But I imagine the poems might have spoken to them in a way that is related to their lives.”

The three contest hopefuls are among 51 finalists. The winners will be announced on 28 November 2019.

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