Students find home with poetry anthology

Homeward found: Candy Royalle (centre) with students from a year 10 class at Leumeah High School. Picture: Jeff de Pasquale
Homeward found: Candy Royalle (centre) with students from a year 10 class at Leumeah High School. Picture: Jeff de Pasquale

For everybody living outside a Peter Weir film, poetry is not often a highlight of high school life.

But one year 10 class at Leumeah High School has a whole new perspective on poetry, having combined to write an anthology of poems with performance artist Candy Royalle.

The poetry book, called Finding Home came out of the school’s agreement with the Australian Business and Community Network, which provides various programs to connect students with companies.

ABCN connected Leumeah’s students with the Red Room Company, a group of poets including Candy Royalle.

Deputy principal of Leumeah High School Ken Bates said the program was a great opportunity for the students.

‘‘It really opened the kids up,’’ Mr Bates said.

‘‘It was focused on what ‘home’ means to them, and it was amazing to see the level of work and the depth of thought that went into those poems.’’

The poetry program was run over a number of sessions and facilitated by a Genworth representative and Ms Royalle.

‘‘In an interesting twist to the story, Candy was diagnosed with cancer in the middle of their sessions,’’ Mr Bates said.

‘‘She shared her story and her [chemotherapy] journey with the kids.’’

Mr Bates believes the sharing of Ms Royalle’s journey helped the class to bond, and create some ‘‘inspiring’’ art.

‘‘One kid, he’s built like a front-row forward, made some unbelievable poetry, he had unbelievable ability, and was very passionate,’’ the deputy principal said.

‘‘The kids were very articulate in their descriptions, which, as a maths teacher, is not something I get to see very often.

‘‘I’ve been teaching for 25 years, and the students are still producing ways to amaze me.’’

Every student in the class received a published copy of Finding Home, and two copies are housed in the school’s library.

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