ASPIRING young poets from Gunnedah have the chance to shine with the home-grown national Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards now open for 2021.
Open to students from Kindergarten to Year 12, the awards are Australia's longest-running annual poetry competition for children and are a chance for local youth to have their voices heard.
Named after renowned bush poet Dorothea Mackellar, the competition attracts thousands of entries and students have the chance to win up to $500 in prize money.
The awards have been running since 1984, and what started out as a small local competition with a couple of hundred entries, has grown to attract upwards of 12,000 entries during a good year.
"It's gone from a little competition to something huge," Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards project officer Brittany Riley said.
"It's a Gunnedah thing but it's a national competition, it's a small country town but we get entries from literally across the nation."
The optional theme this year is 'Rich and Rare', although students are encouraged to take inspiration from wherever they may find it.
"Every year the committee chooses a theme, but it's usually only the primary school students that use it if the teachers need a bit of inspiration, the secondary kids tend to do their own thing," Ms Riley explained.
"We wanted to do something short and sweet, and it pays homage to our diverse landscape."
A new category which was launched in 2020 will again be up for grabs this year - the Kurrumbede Award.
The local prize is for children who attend school within 100 kilometres of Gunnedah.
"That covers Tamworth and all the little villages in between to encourage local kids to get involved," Ms Riley said.
Entries close on June 30 with results to be announced in early September.
Visit www.dorothea.com.au for more information