After the Fire, a poem by Felicity van Rensburg

Felicity van Rensburg, a Year 5 student at Harkaway Hills College, has won ISV's Student Poetry Competition in the Years 5-6 category for her poem, After the Fire. Here, she reads her winning poem.

Felicity van Rensburg, a Year 5 student at Harkaway Hills College, has won the Years 5-6 category for her poem, After the Fire.

The competition, part of our Arts Learning Festival, was open to students from all school sectors, and attracted more than 300 entries.

Announcing the winners, ISV Chief Executive Michelle Green said she was impressed by the creative confidence and optimism of the poems.

‘They have drawn on nature, natural disasters and personal experience to find strength and confidence in extremely difficult times,’ Ms Green said.

This is what the judges said about Felicity’s poem:

An evocative rollercoaster ride, the exuberant lines overflow with carefully crafted imagery of beauty, devastation and rebirth. It takes the breath away.

You can watch Felicity read the poem in the video below, and read it for yourself, along with the students awarded honourable mentions in the category for their outstanding work.

Every day this week, we’ll be sharing videos of our winners reciting their poems.

You can also watch these videos:

Adele Bilney, winner in the Prep-Year 2 category, reading her poem, Winter, by clicking here.

Mehak Soin, winner in the Years 3-4 category, reading her poem, Silver Lining, by clicking here.

Ravin Rathnayake, winner in the Years 7-8 category, reading his poem, by clicking here.

Haelie Roberts, winner in the Years 9-10, reading her poem, Hope in a Whistle, by clicking here.

Derek Villaceran, winner in the Years 11-12 category, reading his poem, Summer Longings, by clicking here.

You can also find full result details in the news section of the Arts Learning Festival website.

Watch Felicity van Rensburg read her winning poem, After the Fire, described by the judges as 'an evocative rollercoaster takes the breath away.'

After the Fire, by Felicity van Rensburg

Glorious mountains, luscious bush,

Ancient gumtrees, ferns and florals,

Sounds of joyful birds singing with delight,

Nature pristine, reflecting the Creator’s glory. 


Majestic, towering trees, cover the hilltops,

Patriarchs of the forest, 

Emerald green and full of life,

In the breeze, their delicate leaves descend. 


But now, the air is scorching,

And the wind is howling like a wolf. 

Orange flickering light,

dangerous to nature.


It follows the wind’s path,

And catches contagious flames,

That spread across the dry, thin grass.

Soon, smoke rises and embers spurt into the air. 


Raging with fury, vicious and violent. 

Starving, searching for fuel. 

Snaking its way from limb to limb,

Twisting and turning. 


Journeying through the paperbark forest,

Spoiling nature’s beauty.

Devouring all things in sight. 

And yet, its hunger, unsatisfied. 


Blazing flames, scorching heat,

Enlarges to a towering size, 

Choking smoke covers the sky.

And now, spotting its target, 


It soars down the mountain.

The cruel, savage, blaze,

Descends on houses below,

Charging towards them.


Devouring homes in one swoosh,

Covering them with a blanket of smoke.

Mantle piece memories obliterated, 

All that remains is ash and dust.  


The death of the forest stands in silence,

Cracking and crunching begins the thunder. 

Rain starts to pour,

Washing away ash and death. 


A new dawn awakes,

With a new golden sensation,

Returning to the sky, 

Smoke quietly fades away. 


Exploding through the clouds, the glow brightens, 

Fresh, clean air flows, trees breathe,

Little sprouts of green spread across the fields,

Regrowth emerges, new life beginning.


Honourable mentions

Aaron Kwok, Year 5, Brighton Beach Primary School

The Fallen

Mia Pearce, Year 6, Christian College Geelong


Amy Schmideg, Year 5, The King David School

Too Cool for School

Zeina Abbass, Year 6, Kew Primary School

The Country

Grace Sudjono, Year 5, Harkaway Hills College

Woman in the Window

Lulu Fyffe Goodall, Year 5, Spensley Street Primary

Hope Tree

Evangeline Harris, Year 6, Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School

Anzac Day – Landing in Gallipoli

Raquel Cruz-Huerta, Year 5, Harkaway Hills College

Stormy Day

Lucy Weisner, Year  6, Mount Scopus Memorial College

A Field of Darkness

Sophie Kuzmina, Year 6, Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School

Beyond the Window

Romany Faulknor, Year 6, Fitzroy Community School


Odette Rozsa, Year 6, Fitzroy Community School

I Used to Live Here

Evanthia Valerie Acklin, Year 5, Genezzano, FCJ College


Vivienne Pally, Year 5, Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School


Lucinda Barker, Year 5, Christian College, Geelong


Stephanie Berryman, Year 5, Fitzroy Community School

Where I Used to Live

Charlotte Di Mauro, Year 6, Holy Rosary Primary School

Mother Nature

Winners in other categories

Prep-Year 2

Winter, by Adele Bilney, Year 2, Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School

Years 3-4

Silver Lining, by Mehak Soin, Year 4, Melbourne Girls Grammar

Years 7-8

Hope, by Ravin Rathnayake, Year 8, Haileybury College Edrington

Years 9-10

Hope in a Whistle, by Haelie Roberts, Year 9, Olivet Christian College

Years 11-12

Summer Longings, by Derek Villaceran, Year 12, Lilydale High School


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