Celebrating 20 years of young writers

The creativity of Extension English 2 students from last year’s HSC is showcased in a newly released anthology.

Image: Complex story: Included in the anthology is Sienna Baker, from Randwick Girls High School.

As the Young Writers Showcase enters its 20th year, 18 impressive young writers from the 2020 HSC are being celebrated for their outstanding talents in writing.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said over the past two decades, the Showcase had given audiences the opportunity to celebrate the gifts and creativity of HSC English Extension 2 students.

“For many of the students whose work is published, this is just the beginning of their wonderful journey into creativity, storytelling and production,” Ms Mitchell said.

“The depth and breadth of work we see in the annual anthology is truly remarkable – the pieces not only showcase students’ impressive writing ability, but also their view of the world, their values, and what’s important to them.”

Over the years, Young Writers has showcased more than 340 students’ work, with many going on to use the skills they developed in the classroom in their future endeavours, including script writing, storytelling, podcasting and more.

Former Sydney Girls High student Nieshanka Nanthakrishnakumar had her major work published as part of NESA’s Young Writers Showcase anthology in 2018, and said it gave her the confidence to pursue her passion in slam poetry.

Ms Nanthakrishnakumar has since gone on to perform at the Sydney Writers Festival, Vivid's 'I'm Not Racist, But....' comedy festival, the 2019 Melbourne Spoken Word Festival and the National Poetry Slam Australia.

“Being published straight out of school gave me the confidence I was initially lacking as a writer. As cliché as it sounds, it was one of the first times I felt 'seen' and it was extremely validating to know that people appreciated my work and wanted to hear what I had to say, especially as a person of colour artist,” Ms Nanthakrishnakumar said.

“It demonstrated what I was capable of and encouraged me to seek new prospects. To this day, high school students who have read my piece in Young Writers, tell me that my work really resonated with them. It's exciting to know that my work is out there in the world to be accessed and appreciated by others. It's also pretty cool to be able to say you are a 'published' poet.”

The young writers to feature in this years’ showcase have been selected from more than 1,385 students who studied HSC English Extension 2 in 2020.

The Young Writers Showcase is usually launched at WordeXpress, a partnership between the State Library of NSW and NESA. Due to COVID restrictions, it will go ahead online this year.

Dr John Vallance, State Librarian at the State Library, said despite not being able to celebrate with the students in person, the public would still have the opportunity to witness the talented writers’ work.

“If the young writers in this year’s 20th anniversary showcase keep writing after they leave school, Australia’s literary culture will be very bright. The State Library is here to encourage them all to do just that,” Dr Vallance said.

The State Library will also offer workshops for current students and publish the students’ reflections statements so that future English Extension 2 students can see how high the standard is.

You can read about the young writers who are included in this year’s and the works they have created on the NSW Education Standards Authority website.

A brilliant read

Copies of the Anthology can be purchased through the NESA store.

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