Published on January 24, 2022

We congratulate Lucy Saywell on achieving first in the State in English Extension 2 for her poem titled all the flutterings of the chest.

Lucy has always enjoyed studying English but her keen interest in poetry was nurtured from a young age by her English teachers Mr Blake Jolly and Ms Kate Dwyer. Her inspiration was the many famous and courageous poets before her, including poets featured in Paul Kelly’s anthology and Reginald Dwayne Betts. 

Lucy has a keen interest in social justice and raising environmental awareness and this inspired her to write her poetry piece.

Much of Lucy’s success is attributed to the skills of “resilience, patience and perseverance” she has learned being an English student and equestrian athlete here at Hunter Valley Grammar School.

We spoke with Lucy to understand how she courageously embarked on her journey in developing her poem and what drives her to succeed.

HSC success starts long before Year 12; what experiences at HVGS in Years 7-10 equipped you for achieving so highly in your final year?

Overcoming some of my setbacks in Years 7-10 such as a poor assessment mark and learning how to ask for help and take criticism and work with that. The English faculty from Year 7 – 10 has been amazing. 

Ms Dwyer in year 7 had such enthusiasm for literature and this really inspired me.

Equestrian also definitely reinforced resilience and learning from my mistakes.  

Favourite subjects at HVGS?

I really love English and I love its ability to expand how you view the world. I enjoy discovering different global perspectives and being able to develop an opinion informed by evidence. I also loved French, I really liked the challenge of learning French and the aesthetic linguistics of it. Also it was great to be exposed to a different world view.

How do you define success?

For me success is being able to meet your goals. Being able to realistically achieve goals you can be proud of.

Your personal philosophy for how you approached and overcame the challenges of 2021?

Just do your best. Where I hoped I would end up and where I got to was different. I was able to finish Year 12 satisfied and content that I had given my best shot.

What further study do you intend to do after the HSC?

A double degree of law and social science at Newcastle University, and I’m hoping that will give me a good foundation for working on social justice initiatives. I’m hoping to work overseas, hopefully in Europe and apply my French speaking skills.

What advice would you offer the 2022 HSC cohort coming through?

Don’t stress when changes come up, adapt and grow around it.

Definitely listen to your teachers and family they are a very good support team. Keep a balance and make sure you go out for a walk, see your friends alongside doing your work.


Here is an excerpt from Lucy’s poem:

all the flutterings of the chest

Inside a great hall

she is propped on a carved wooden throne,

a sceptre is placed in a bony hand,

an orb in the other,

a flower crown slips from her dome.


They deify her.


Ropes bind her wrists

tethered round and round.

Mossy hair strewn on the floor,

opal teeth plucked from her gums,

eyes yellowed and cracked.


Murmurs of deepest reverence,

bring gold to her scabbed feet,

for the daffodils and dahlias,

the dirt that springs forth dinner,

the money that the minerals make.

“Long live Lady Earth”

is chorused.


Lucy’s full essay can be viewed here also – SMH Article.