The Year 9 cohort were recently privileged to have Jane Harrison join their class for the day. She is the author of the novel that students are studying in Term 2, Becoming Kirrali Lewis. This novel won the 2014 Blak&Write! Prize, and was shortlisted for both the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and the Victorian Premier’s Awards.
Throughout the morning session, Jane talked through some of her experiences as a writer, sharing with the students how she moved from her early work as an advertising copywriter to now being a published and performed playwright/writer, as well as a writer of essays, and short stories … and even a writer for an episode of the animation Little J and Big Cuz, now showing on SBS and NITV.
As students were encouraged to ask questions, Jane was able to increase their understanding of the themes and ideas central to Becoming Kirrali Lewis.
After lunch, Jane ran a Writer’s Workshop for a small group of students. In this session, she was able to direct the students to do some targeted writing and think about how to develop character in their own writing.
‘The practical writing exercises were definitely the best. I got a little bit of inspiration out of it too! I also enjoyed the tips and advice that Jane gave us,’ said student Timber.
Timber was not alone in their enthusiasm for the session, with the school receiving rave reports from parents, students and teachers.
‘The session was very informative and I enjoyed listening to Jane’s work and how it helped her explore her own heritage,’ said student Hazel.
‘I found it interesting to learn the background of the story and although I haven’t yet completed [the novel] I have a newfound interest to learn more and hear it in its entirety. Knowing there were elements of the author in the story, I found that interesting. I really enjoyed learning more about this book and its author,’ enthused student Daniel.
Jane, who is a descendant of the Muruwari people of NSW, is best known for the play Stolen. This critically acclaimed play focuses on the experience of five Aboriginal people from the stolen generation, and has been performed across Australia and overseas, including seasons in the UK, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Stolen has been on the VCE English list, and is also studied across other Australian jurisdictions.
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