Poetry in First Languages


Arrernte, English, and the red dust of Alice Springs, enriched the recent Poetry in First Languages workshops attended by Centralian Senior College and Ltyentye Apurte Catholic School students.

The outdoor sessions, run by Red Room Poetry, were part of the Northern Territory Writers’ Festival.

Poetry in First Languages assists First Nations students to produce ‘poetry in first languages by connecting them to First Nations poets, elders and language custodians on country’.

The workshops were led by Arrernte playwright and poet, Declan Furber Gillick, Gunai poet Kirli Saunders, and Arrernte language custodians.

Tiara Doolan, a Year 11 Centralian Senior College student, said the participants enjoyed being able to work on their poetry outside and interact with the environment.

“I wrote about growing up in an Indigenous family, and growing up with a strong language, and learning from my grandmother and being out on country,” she said. “I plan to read my poem to my grandmother, auntie and uncle.”

David Moore, Alyawarr and Arrente linguist at the Alice Springs Language Centre said: “In the International Year of Indigenous Languages it’s all about strong languages, and strong learning of Arrernte.

“Our students are involved in editing books, coming up with their own compositions, and placing some of those on the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages.

“It’s an economic advantage in a place like the Northern Territory to be able to speak Aboriginal languages.

“There’s a cultural side to it — the heritage and preservation of languages — and there’s also the vocational side, and we try and do both.”

Poetry in First Languages

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