Feast of Words 2017

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This week at Coonabarabran High School, students and teachers have been feasting on the most important elements of language, words! Not only were there sessions with Year 6 students from around the region led by Mrs Aitkin, Mr Guihot and Mrs Macintosh, but this year, we have three Australian writers from diverse writing backgrounds and genre: JC Burke, Sue Whiting and Kim Hodges. The Feast of Words is proudly supported by the Copyright Agency.

JC Burke was last here in 2013 and in 2011 published her novel, Pig Boy, at Coonabarabran High School. Thus, it was wonderful to welcome her back to Coonabarabran High School for the 2017 Feast of Words. Ms Burke delivered lectures to year groups from Years 7 to 12 on the process of writing, exploring the power of verbs to ‘show not tell’, focusing in particular on her own experience as a writer. With her enthusiasm for writing and energy for engaging students, she had them on the edge of their seats. Students were engaged in the writing process themselves by being prompted to pose their own questions and write.

Sue Whiting is a successful author and editor. Sue started her working life as a primary school teacher until her first book, ‘Mistie’s Magic’, was published in 2000. She has since published a grand total of 66 books! Sue also works as an editor for Walker Books. Sue has been working with our students on how to create authenticity in their writing and scaring them with fabulous ghost stories. We are extremely grateful for the advice and insight she has provided our students with at Coonabarabran High School

Kim Hodges writes from life, and she began her writing journey by recording  short stories for her three boys. These stories have since become the foundation of chapters for her first publication, Girl on the Edge, a memoir of growing up as an adolescent girl in Coolah. Kim worked with smaller groups of students to unlock their previously unwritten stories from their lives. At the heart of her sessions, was the underlying belief that everyone has a story and everyone has a right to tell that story.

The tradition of the 50 word novel continued to shine this year, with every student writing a complete story in 50 words, from beginning to end. It takes skill but year by year, our students face the challenge with more confidence and skill, and the novels this year were better than ever. It was tough competition to get to the top of the pack, with highly commended entries from Amy Maher, Brad Fuller, Daisy Andrews, Amelia Toynton. The winning student of the 50 word novel for 2017 Feast of Words was Bethany Freeman from Year 9 with her novel titled, ‘Anxiety’. Thank you to Mr Steve Turner for reading through the many entries and judging the winning entries.


He’s always been there. I can feel his judgement, almost suffocating. His presence is a burden, and his words torment me. He steals the words from my lips, like they were never even mine.

It’s as if his heavy boot is crushing my neck, rendering me speechless.

He ruined me.

By Bethany Freeman (Year 9)