Winning young poets impress Ipswich Poetry Feast judges

Three school-aged Ipswich writers have been recognised for penning inspiring, poignant and skilful poems that were showcased at the Ipswich Poetry Feast’s online awards presentation.

Redbank wordsmith Finn Mulvogue won the 11-13 years age group with his climate change inspired poem ‘Wise Beyond My Years’, described by judges as having an eloquent and thoughtful message.

The 11-year-old said his poem reflected the 2021 NAIDOC theme ‘Heal Country‘, and how as a young person it is his generation’s future that is in jeopardy.

“I wanted readers to feel the fear and despair we have about climate change but also the hope that we can make a difference, even if we are children,” Finn Mulvogue said.

“It made my mum cry when they read out that I had won, and I am really proud of myself.

“I like to write about and share my culture, being a proud Gunaikurnai and Boonwurrung young man, so it means a lot to write about that.”

Woodend poetess Josie Minz took second place in the 14-17 years age group for her pensive entry ‘Crying at the Nail Salon’, and Silkstone writer Mavis Colbert placed third in the 8-10 years age group with her juxtaposing ode ‘Lava’.

Ms Minz said her poem emulated the tidal wave of emotions that are felt when you have risked everything for a dream and begin to feel that dream falling apart.

“Poetry is something that, previously, I have only really done for my personal enjoyment. So, it is really gratifying that other people enjoy my writing as well,” the 15-year-old said.

“It is such a lovely feeling knowing that what I have written is able to touch other people that I have never even met.”

Ten-year-old Mavis Colbert said she was proud, happy and excited to be able to share her poem with others.

“I’ve already written some more poems since the competition, one called ‘Sunshine, ‘Tornado Teaser’ and the other ‘Blue’. I like to base my poems around the elements and give them life, as well as writing about colours,” Ms Colbert said.

This year’s competition received more than 610 entries from across Australia as well as Croatia, India, Jamaica, Thailand and North America.

Community, Culture, Arts and Sport Committee Chair Councillor Andrew Fechner said the annual poetry writing competition gives poets of all ages a wonderful opportunity to work on their craft while competing for more than $3,000 in prizes.

“I congratulate local writers who entered this year’s competition and for their poems which dealt with themes as wide-ranging as the perspectives of First Nations people, the climate crisis, and daily life during the pandemic,” Cr Fechner said.

“The quality of work produced by young writers was tremendous and their recognition by judges within an international field of high-calibre writers is a great achievement.

“Over the years some fantastic success stories have emerged from the Ipswich Poetry Feast including Brenda Joy Pritchard who won her first ever prize in the Ipswich competition.

“The prize gave her the encouragement and confidence to continue crafting and submitting poems to competitions, and she is now widely acknowledged as a multi-award-winning modern bush poet and performer.”

Founded in 2002, Ipswich Poetry Feast was an initiative of council and has been delivered by Ipswich Libraries for 19 years.

It has become recognised as one of Australia’s most respected and prestigious annual poetry writing competitions.

For more information about the annual Ipswich Poetry Feast, visit

Wise Beyond My Years – by Finn Mulvogue

I stand on the edge, the horizon spreads before me
The wind hits my face, I feel like I am free.
The beauty of my country, the colours of my land
Come and share it with, come and take my hand.
Let us journey on together, let us fly, let us soar
Walk the land of our ancestors, breathe life into our core.
The rain hits the desert sands, the rivers start to flow
See the green of the rainforest, as the plants begin to grow.
The sunlight filters to the ground, the land comes alive
If we care for country, we can make it thrive.

Take my hand, and come with me, our journey has begun
Bask in the glow of our love, warm our faces by the sun.
For we may not always be right, we may not all be free
But together as one, we take a stand, open our eyes, and see
Let us stand up for injustice, let us close the gap
If you cut the tree, it will bleed its sap
The fires they are burning, wilder than before
Our human hands have created this, we need to heal the sore
The earth she is crying, she is warming and distressed
We need to act together now, not wait until we’re pressed
I am a child, but I am strong, I am willing to take a stand
I hold the knowledge of my ancestors; I want to heal my land.
Let me dream, let me speak, let me cry my tears
I will try to lead you, wise beyond my years.


Crying at the Nail Salon – by Josie Minz

Crying alone at the nail salon
night falling slowly,
I look at my mood ring
telling me how to feel when I can’t do so myself.
The city streets are empty
as darkness takes over
but I can’t stop speaking
so I don’t have to think
and confront the emotions I constantly step around.

The ocean rises and falls around my feet;
I stand still,
hoping the broken fragments of my heart
will wash away with the riptide
and while everyone tells me I’m okay
the voices in my head
keep me awake at night.
Whispering; constantly saying otherwise.

And when summer comes,
I disconnect
secluding myself from all sense of reality.
Only the guitar
truly knows how I am feeling
and though I have painted my mask well,
each conversation tears me apart.
I dread to think what will happen
when my soul finally gives in
and the last rose petal of winter falls.

I am the fallen fruit
discarded from society;
Unmoldable no matter how hard they try,
forever bound by the chains of freedom.
Try to save me if you can.
Though my conscience won’t allow it;
Too proud to apologise.
Crying at the nail salon.


Lava – by Mavis Colbert

I just sit and stare, hardening
It’s not fair! They love her more than me!
They use her for drinking and gardening
She makes them live and I kill them you see?
I want to be useful for something
Something not horrible and cruel
I used to be nice and lovely
Steaming your relaxation pools
Water was Natures’ favourite
That made me steamy and mad
Mother Mountain adopted me
And for once I was glad

Now Mother Mountain’s a volcano with me inside
But there’s only so much a mother can take
She gives me a place to hide
Away from Waters’ Lake
Water lives in a hole like me
But hers is where people can see
I live in darkness and fear hiding
Knowing only mother cares for me
When you mortals upset Mother Volcano
She rumbles at me to leave with stealth

So with her help I head for the city
To tell you, “I’m lonely and don’t care for your health!”
Water is now lonely
And the lucky ones who made it won’t be coming back
Sure I’ll harden but we’ll both find ourselves
Back in the city coming for you and I’ll attack


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