Poetry by High school students

Don’t Tell Me To Fix My Hijab
by Israa
Fairvale Highschool

You were not the one who sectioned my pins perfectly this morning
every morning,
attempting to adjust my head, while being late
nearly swallowing my pins in the midst of this unchaotic chaos.
Warned by my hijabi mother everyday
to be extra careful when I am walking alone
‘you don’t know if white boy is staring because he thinks you’re cute
orrrrr a terrorist.’
Oh and honey you think I won’t stare back?
My eyes shall interlock with any human who would like to compete with
my concentration
and trust me baby I don’t lose
But don’t tell me to fix my hijab
don’t tell me it’s crooked,
don’t tell me there’s a string of wired hair sticking out
don’t tell me
to take this crown off my head
it belongs there.

Mango Memories
by Aamina Musthafa
Birrong Girls High school

my grandmother stands in the kitchen
the walls are faded and the wooden chopping board
bleeds mango juice. she sings
the old songs like a broken record
but flawlessly
the tone flows swiftly from her
eyes shut. her voice rises
and falls like a heartbeat
when she goes back to those days. memories flow
down her cheeks when she thinks of those days
when the people in their graves had lives. when she sees the shadows
of her grandchildren approaching
she wipes the memories away
to make new ones

NAIDOC Poem by Sista Speak
by Year 9/10 students

Sydney Secondary College

Treaty is the touch of a cosy warm blanket covering over the land
Voice is the sight of painting mixed with explosions of colour
Voice is the sound of big old eucalyptus trees communicating
with the younger generation
Truth is the sight of a sneaky crocodile ready to convince its prey
– I come in peace
Treaty is the smell of large chocolate cupcakes freshly baked
out of the oven
Treaty is the touch of peaceful change like a big hug of love
Truth is the taste of sweet, mouthwatering, heartbreaking honey
leaving you breathless
Truth is the touch of fluffy wool on a blanket
Voice is the sound of a calm relaxing song that is being sung by Eileena
Voice is the sound of light rain falling from the sky

Best of Story Factory Vol. 2: For Older Readers

Best of Story Factory Vol. 2: For Older Readers

This anthology captures the complexity of the teen years. The pieces in this collection are generous. They share what these young writers know about their world, inviting readers into a universe where introspection is combined with unexpected adventure, playful fantasy, and the gritty realities of teen life.

Buy the book
Marvellous Birds

Marvellous Birds

In the Marvellous Birds anthology you’ll find stories written in term-long programs by Year Six students from Blaxcell St Public, Dawson Public, Plumpton Public and Punchbowl Public. The stories explore themes such as community, friendship, migration and the challenge of new adventures – all through the eyes of the marvellous, mysterious (and occasionally menacing!) birdlife of the world.


A Night Alone
Written by Haylie
Blaxcell Street Public School

It was time. I glanced at Tulassi and Melissa. We were ready. Tulassi was the one with the strongest beak and Melissa had the strongest mind. With us three combined we were unstoppable. This was the night of our escape. We were tired of being kept in cages so humans could glance at our beauty. We were tired.

Tulassi stuck her strong beak through the key lock. There was a loud click and the door opened. We flew out – we were free.


A hole in a heart, filled up
Written by Neha
Blaxcell Street Public School

The turbulent winds blew in their faces, a sense of coldness trickled into their bodies but their relationship kept them strong. Ivy and her sister’s resilience always helped them through their troubles. The glistening sea below had chunks of paper-white ice drifting along it, like elegant swans gliding across the pristine surface of a lake. The land to the left was covered in frosty white snow. The blizzard got stronger; snow started to build up on the plumage of the agile birds. The birds flew in a murmuration due to the merciless winds, the gushing was ringing through their ears.

The marshmallow clouds blurred their vision, the glacial winds made their feathers stand on end. All of a sudden, a screech echoed through their ears. Ivy’s sister was lost. Ivy felt like she lost a part of herself. Sadness filled Ivy; the gushing wind was no obstacle now. As Ivy struggled to counterbalance the glacial winds, she heard a voice.

‘Ivy,’ echoed the sound.

Buy the book
Best of Story Factory Volume Two: For Younger Readers

Best of Story Factory Volume Two: For Younger Readers

There are some people who think stories about Martians, pens that speak, and one-eyed dinosaurs named Poopy aren’t true. But in the moment, when young people are writing them, they are the truest thing there is.

These are pieces that fill a black and white day with colour: the strange machines, the birds named To’o and Bryan, the humour that young writers find in almost every situation. These are pieces to make young readers laugh, wonder and dream up worlds of their own.


Amazing Love
Written by Bella
8 years old

Quietly I watched the night stars
Heaven calls out my name
I am in here, I try telling them
My awkward sounds are the same

Tell them I love them
Tell them I care
Many hearts broken
My family in despair

Every so often
Hope echoes my dreams
Mercy longs to love me
And masks my screams

Tell them I love them
Tell them I care
Many hearts broken
My family in despair

Awesome wonder, my dream beckons
To care for those like me
Ask the beautiful and forgotten
Incredible, amazing and free

Are you tired and weary?
Are you like a man made new?
No one seeks to hear me
But the genuine few

Tell them I love them
Tell them I care
Many hearts broken
My family in despair

Tell them I love them
Tell them I care
My quiet words, heard, are flooded
Eternally to share

Buy the book
Best of Story Factory Volume One

Best of Story Factory Volume One

This is the first volume in our Best of Story Factory series, highlighting the outstanding work written by young people in Story Factory creative writing workshops in 2020.

Writing through the disruptions of the COVID pandemic, more than 6,000 young people aged 7 – 17 participated in creative writing programs run in schools, at our writing centres in Redfern and Parramatta, and online.


Written by Naikbakht
16 years old
Holroyd High school

I want to say this together
I want to say from me from you from others
from the story of Layla and Majnun
the destinies between Earth and Moon
the spirit of stars around sky
my life to you is like sparrow
the dark night to the heart of the rock
the gazelle to the savanna
the love of my heart and your heart
the night dreams
to the flying of our dreams
the sparrow’s love to the river
I want still to tell you
from the top to the bottom
I love you I love you

Buy the book


In a Story Factory Big Project for 2019-20 teenagers wrote InstaPoems in response to real-life issues, and shared them online, dispensing our newest invention – InstaHope!

In a series of one-off writing workshops at high schools right across Sydney and Western Sydney, and online workshops for those writing at home, students were guided to write poems for Instagram to cure some of life’s problems.


cure /kjʊə,kjɔː/ noun: restore to health
Written by Farbeen
Year 10

first whiff of scent
from a dish you just cooked
the steam from a hot shower
filling up a winter evening
the scent of a jasmine candle
filling up a room
changing the atmosphere
laying down a new bed sheet
lying down under the warm afternoon sun rays
a wave of crispy scent from
a new book splashing my face
immediately after opening
first sip of cold water
from a newly bought water bottle
an overwhelming mixture of excitement,
relief flushing through as you touch down

Buy the book
We're Writing To Say

We’re Writing To Say

We’re Writing to Say… is a Story Factory project that aimed to creatively document the lived experience of young people during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the shared experience of a truly unprecedented year, the project connected young people with each other: building empathy, embracing inclusion and providing a forum for them to share their stories and reflections.


Museum of Me
Written by Taraziya
Year 10

This towel is from when I was born, when the priest baptised me. My mum put me in the towel, the colour is white, it was so big and has my name on it. I was crying but when they put me in the towel, I stopped crying. Until now, I still have it.

My doll’s name is Taniya, her hair is dark brown. She dresses in blue, and when I’m bored I talk to her. My aunt chose her for me but my dad bought her for me because I was crying for an ice cream. He said, ‘I will buy you another,’ then we went to the shop and he bought me the doll. When I got back home, I hugged her. I felt happy because I don’t have a sister and I think she is my sister. I got her when I was eight years old.

When I was eight years old I went to Lebanon. My friends gave me this letter to say ‘goodbye’ and ‘we love you’. It is light pink, and has a flower on it. I love it because it is special, and when I miss my friends I read this letter.

Buy the book
A User's Guide To A Pandemic

A User’s Guide To A Pandemic

A User’s Guide to a Pandemic was an idea that started during the national lockdown earlier in 2020. The idea was simple – that young people needed to write about this. So, four writing centres for young people across the country got together – Story Factory (NSW – that’s us!), 100 Story Building (Melbourne) & The Story Island Project (Tasmania) and StoryBoard (Byron Bay) and created A User’s Guide to a Pandemic – a writing project that amplified the voices of young people during the uncertainty and disconnection of the pandemic.


Written by By Herman

Independence is the mice against the unnerving winds.
Gratitude is the clouds above us, unreachable and uninterpretable
Euphoria is being immersed in the treacherous and daring depths of life.
Resilience is the lion’s mane.
Acceptance is the cool summer breeze genially sweeping into the thoughts and feelings and empowering it
As I wonder how fickle the human experience is and the reality that has evolved, I begin to notice:
Independence is the urge to brave the cold winds through its skeletal fingers
Gratitude is the genial ticking of the clocks.
Euphoria is the butterfly that nests in the lion’s nest, imbibed in nature’s calling with a smile on their face.
Resilience is the bounce that reverberates
Acceptance is the stillness drenched in raging waters.


Written by Ruya
11 years old

The sun floated through the window and stirred the dust as it lit up the pages of her book. It lit up the folds in the pages, the sagging spine, the scratches and fingerprints on its cover.

‘Evangilline! Lunch!’

The book was thrust off her lap and landed with a thud on the floor.

A clank. A bang. A little clatter.

Shadows passed behind the book’s spine and light weaved in and out of the places on the carpet. The black rectangle in front of the book was lit up and colourful shapes moved across it.

This was the book’s new world. And it was beautiful.

Buy the book

Stories change lives.

Proceeds from our bookstore support creative writing programs for young people from under resourced communities.

Shop now