“In any workshops it is these special moments when I watch the students’ faces. These are the moments when realness is shared, and the light shines stronger in young peoples’ eyes. These are the moments when equality and respect is shared evenly amongst the group. These are the little moments that are remembered over and over,” shared Ali Cobby Eckermann as she reflected on the profound effects the week-long mentoring workshop had on its participants.
Eight talented young Indigenous writers from Yirara College, Alice Springs, had the opportunity to develop their creative writing through the Pamela Lofts Bequest for Literacy and Learning workshop, facilitated by our Foundation. Mentored by award-winning author Ali Cobby Eckermann, Murri poet Lionel Fogarty and Lorna Munro, the students were engaged in various writing activities throughout the week-long event.
“Over the days the students' confidence was boosted as they exchanged stories and read their own and other's stories. They developed an appreciation for books and were very excited to take their stories home to share with their families. These workshops are important as they help these kids to see the opportunities reading and writing can lead them to,” said Lionel Fogarty.
The group of eager writers, from years 7–11 and communities such as Harts Range, Hermannsburg, Robinson River, Minyerri and Broome, shared readings on Aboriginal literature, looked at writing structure, kept a journal, participated in writing exercises, and wrote and built on their own short stories and poems.
“The students responded enthusiastically to [Lionel’s] poetry, reading from his various volumes, including reading out loud to the class. Lionel encouraged the use of traditional language to weave cultural knowledge within stories,” said Ali. “Lorna introduced a youthfulness, reciting her deadly spoken word and playful in-house exercises.”
One of the students said, “I have enjoyed having Ali, Lionel and Lorna here to teach us how to write a poem and how to read it with expression.”
And another said, “I would like to say a big THANK YOU for your effort that you gave us in learning how to write short stories and short poems.”
Our Foundation is now working with Ali and the school and planning the next phase of the Pamlea Lofts Literacy and Learning workshop.
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