Last week, SCAS happily welcomed back our ‘writer in residence’, acclaimed Australian poet, essayist and former teacher Mr. John Foulcher. His work has been published in national newspapers and journals including The Age, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Bulletin, Quadrant, Heat, Poetry Australia, Meanjin and the new Oxford Book of Australian Verse. In the 80s and 90s, his poetry was set for study on the New South Wales Higher School Certificate. He has been the poetry editor for a number of publications including The Canberra Times and the magazine of the National Library. He had had numerous publications of his poetry in his career and is still quite a prolific writer having just published A Casual Penance (Pitt Street Poetry) in 2017. According to Geoff Page of The Sunset Assumption “Foulcher has always been a subtle and non-dogmatic religious poet. Even to an agnostic or atheist the poems here will almost certainly evoke a powerful sense of strangeness, of something quite conceivably real but not reducible to words.”

The English faculty are always so pleased to welcome back such a valuable resource to our SCAS community. This year the faculty decided to analyse some of Mr. Foulcher’s poetry with our Year 10 students prior to his visit, where he was then able to provide insights into the background and inspiration behind some of his poems, as well and discuss his philosophy on the form. Mr Foulcher also worked with numerous other students from Years 7 to 12. Some of our Year 12 Extension students in particular were fortunate enough to consult with Mr Foulcher one on one. In an instance of serendipity, one student, Chris Irving even chose one of Mr Foulcher’s poems for his related text and was able to spend time with him and glean some valuable feedback.

A visit from a writer of this calibre also provides valuable professional development for the faculty. Mr Foulcher consulted with teachers and engaged in professional discussions to further develop understandings on how to interpret and analyse poetry. He really has a way with people and speaks in a melodic tone that encapsulates audiences. This year, his timing was excellent as the Year 10s were just finishing a unit of study on his poetry and the Year 9s were beginning their study of protest poetry guiding them towards a deeper understanding of poetic intent. Mr Foulcher managed to visit all our Year 9 and 10 English students in his week with us, as well as work with many of our seniors in Year 12. Staff and students genuinely benefitted from his visit and I sincerely look forward to his return.