Toitoi is a terrific new journal for young writers and artists – they publish poems!

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The very lovely Alice at Port Chalmers showed me this journal. Some of her students have work in it.

Then the editor sent me a copy! It is really really good. You can send in sample  drawings to see if you can illustrate poems or stories by other children. You can send in poems and stories.

I was so delighted to see Monica from (I know her from Christchurch) had done the cover drawing.

This is where you can go to check out submission details.


This seems like a great thing to work on over the summer. I think the poems in the first issue are wonderful. Congratulations!



Toitoi 2 is already in the pipeline but

Submissions close for Toitoi on Friday, February 19, 2016​.



Celebrating the South Auckland Writing Project in Schools last night – my photo celebration


Ōtāhuhu Pātaka Kōrero Ōtāhuhu Library was packed last night for the launch of the books from the Writer’s Residencies in South Auckland Schools.

Thanks to The New Zealand Book Council and the Ōtahuhu Rotary Club, this project was launched in Term 3 and 4. Five writers were based in five Ōtahuhu schools.

As you know I got to go to the very lovely Fairburn School (I posted lots about my visits!).

The place was packed! The children were glowing with pride. All the hard work from students, teachers and writers had resulted in four beautiful books (one is on its way).

I found it a very moving occasion; along with the school residency, it was a year highlight. I thank everyone who made it possible so very much.

I especially thank the students and teachers who filled Fairburn School with poetry joy. Wow!



The Principal of Fairburn School (Frances Nelson) shows me their book for the first time. My face says it all. I was over the moon at the look of it. They had used The Letterbox Cat as a model. I couldn’t wait to find a secret corner to read all the poems.


Fairburn students made beautiful speeches in celebration of the project and their new book.


The cover of the book is so zingy. It is like a Dr Seuss cover. Wow!




I loved it when Hammad read his poem out. I loved hearing about my Mad-Hatter Actions. It is so true. I spotted myself doing some during my thank-you speech! I was on the verge of tears when I heard this read aloud.


I loved the way some of the poems are from my workshops and some are inspired by classes after my sessions in the hall. I loved that mix. It felt very special to discover the poem ripples.





I especially loved seeing some picture poems as the children had done outstanding examples of these in my workshops. I posted some on the blog.


I loved discovering the gorgeous illustrations by children. What fun they must have had. How hard the teaches must have worked!


I love the way Room (Y0/1) made class poems. Gorgeous! Great picture too!


I loved the way the poems took me back to the children who write them. I remember how hard Orlaith worked on this one. It was so very good to read it again.



Here I am with Catriona Ferguson (CEO of The NZ Book Council) – we were given beautiful flowers.

What an utterly special occasion. yes I laughed and i cried and oohed and aahed as all the schools shared their wonderful books and writing.

I have read the book from cover to cover and I am so impressed. Congratulations students, your poems are magnificent.  I am so proud of you. Can’t wait to catch up for a visit next year.

A memorable night.

Thank you!


A class sent in whole bunch of fizzing mood poems – congratulations

I loved this bunch of Mood poems from 4AMS  at St Cuthbert’s College so I am sending you a copy of The Letterbox Cat. I love the way they are all different. Great job young poets. These poems are fizzing.


Bed Disaster
Wriggle move grunt
Boom Russell bump
White light
Itchy body
Tumble crash
Scratch turn itch

Sienna Year 4
The Soothing Seaweed Beach
Foamy leaping high waves
Crumbly cookie sand
Delicious picnic lunch
Yum, munch
Seawed scented smell soft

Esme Year 4
The Shining Beach
Nice sun run.
Splash splash splosh.
Red pink white blue.
Playing running laughing swimming.
Lemon sun light shining in the bright sky.

Kelly Year 4
Horay Today
Blue sky’s bright
Clouds absent from sight
Sun yellow as a lemon
Shrieking chatting laughing smiling
Fantastic friends forever
Blue orange green
Games colourful exciting

Olivia Year 4

Delightful Days
Lemonly sun
Shimmering beach
Crystal sky blue
No care in the world

Claudia Year 4
Floating in clouds
Soft, glow, warm

Katelin Year 4
Black Occurances
Bored annoyed angry
Black and restless
Big birds grey
Sitting kicking
Tunnels loud
Growly gloomy
Uncomfortable cranky
Now happy it’s over

Sienna Year 4
A Peaceful Day
Chirping  peaceful birds.
Blankets blue and big.
Tired and sleepy.
Happy and peaceful.

Grace S Year 4
The Devious Trick
Scrunching, punching, hardly
Loud, loud to annoying
Kicking, hitting, arguing
Going to explode right NOW!
Want to do something bad
Misunderstanding my own problem

Salihah Year 4
The Dark Side
Devil controlling my brain
Evil thoughts lurking
Scowling, slamming, shouting
Crash, bang, wallop,
Storm clouds
Lightning bolts
Red – orange fire

Alexandra Year 4
The Demon Disaster
Red hiss

Ally Year 4
Rays Of Light
Skip shine smile
Red yellow pink
Running talking
Skipping laughing
Orange bouncy sun
Gold like a lemon

Renee Year 4
Raging Revenge
Daring plan devious
Mouth stretching to
Evil grin
Eyes glittering revenge
Whooppee cushion prepared
Approaching target the room,
Hungry silence comes until….
Trouble now.

Arabella   Year 4


Ready, Set, Go!
Fantastic finishing line gleaming
Gold green gold
Jump as far as the moon
Run run run

Kate Year 4
Silent Sensation
Twitting blackbirds
Sudden silence surrounding the air
Pillow fluffy clouds
Breathing in and out looking up in the atmosphere
Sky Shimmering blue
Blackbirds on brown branches
Singing sweet songs

Chloe Year 4
Shadows Lurking
Dinging clock
Spooky dark night
Arms and legs moving around
Shadows lurking
Kittens bells dangling
Bearly seeing
Bed wiggling

Chloe Year 4
The Perfect Day
Sparking blue sky
People shouting around
Bright sun Shining all around

Enhui Year 4
Yellow lemon sun ,
Sleepily dreaming
Television blurring
Sunlight gleaming
Pitch black darkness

Marissa Year 4
Thoughts streaming on,
Reading books,
Quietly thinking,
Drawing cats.

Briony Year 4
Exploding Volcano
Fizzing up inside me
Exploding volcano
Boiling hot
Brain taken over by the devil
Shouts, screams, and wails
Echoing around the house
Dark thoughts lurking

Ruby Year 4

My favourite mood poems from this term-long challenge


What a great idea to give you a challenge to play with over a number of weeks. Mood poems are a challenge. I gave you lots of tips to give your poems strength.


I really loved the poems that used strong detail.

I loved the poets who had used their ears to check their lines.

I loved the poems that hid the mood for the reader to guess.

I loved the poems that played with words.

I loved the poems that told a little story.

I loved the poems that had a surprise somewhere.

I loved the poems that built a strong image and that image built a mood.


Here are some of my favourite poems. I loved reading them all. Some needed a bit more editing with your ears and eyes. I did challenge you to write a suite of poems (or a class set) so I have mostly picked children who did.

This is not a competition but a challenge but I do like to spread books around. So I have a copy of The Letterbox Cat for Daisy (if you have it will find something else) and a book voucher for William.


Thank you so much for trying my challenging, especially the classes. I have picked one class to highlight in my next post but wow! You are all represented here as you all blew my pink socks off!


Quake Drill
Under desks,
Holding on,
Quake drill,
A deep gravely voice rang from the speaker,
Tummy summer salting,
Shaking like a steam train,
Quake drill done.

Jenna l  Year 5, 9 years old Vardon School


Salty as the Sea

My tears

make salty streams

entering the house.

I run to my bedroom

and shut the door

as silent as a mouse.

My tears stream

down the stairs

and my mother

rings the bell.

Time for tea

my tears

salty as the sea.


Hot as the Fire

My face grew hot as the fire,

My brother said it’s like a train,

He’s such an annoying liar.

When I get to school

I suffered the boys in my class.

Two poems by Daisy A Room 6 Ilam School.



Stay Awake

I make people lie down

And relax like a dog

Or like a cloud.

I make them

Want to stay up

Till later

You can’t stop this mood.


I’m Red

When children get laughed at

This mood can strike.

Donkeys get this mood

And the mood makes them

Kick you hard.

This mood can make faces red

With a scared look on others.


Umm …

This mood makes children scared

That they will say something silly.

So they just don’t say anything

And if their parent is there

They will just hide behind them

And hold them.

Three poems by William Sherborne  Age: 7 years St Andrews School


The Rainbow of My Moods 


Volcanoes in my stomach

Erupting in loud shouts

Fiery feelings fall from my head

Until the magma cools down



My words are mean

My mouth leaks with rudeness

I snap like a crocodile

Until things go my way



Bouncing with joy

I light up

I think before I say

I feel like doing what the family wants to do



Like an extra

Not needed


Wondering why I am here



Lacking energy

Disinclined to exert effort



Low spirits

No enthusiasm



My eyes turn everything into food

A book is a sandwich

A bouncy ball is an apple

A plate is a cookie

But my tummy still rumbles



I am the flat ocean

I am a tree with no breeze

I am peaceful music

And … asleep


Did you guess the moods?

Red = angry

Orange = snarky

Yellow = happy

Green = redundant

Blue = listless

Indigo = hungry

Violet = calm

Daniel Lovewell Age 6, Year 2, Adventure School, Porirua
Teacher Mrs Pepperell


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Gemma Lovewell Age 9 Year 5, Adventure School, Porirua
Teacher Mr Mac:



Oh, Yippee!

Best day, ever!

Nothing could be better!

Let everyone know my feelings!

Oops sorry Mum, too loud!

Adrenaline rushing through my veins!

I love this feeling!

Who doesn’t?

Let’s go to the playground!

Oh, ok,

I’m still ecstatic!

Yea, cheerful,

Yes, I’ll set the table!

I’ll do whatever you say,

Jessica A age 10 Gladstone Primary School Auckland


My Mood
My mood is a dog,
My mood is cat,
My mood is the bright sun shining.
My mood is a rainbow glimmering in the sky.

Ruby T, age 7, Year 3, Ilam School


Nothing here for me



Clouds blocking the sun.

Blue, black, white.

As alone as

the moon.



Elizabeth v W Age: 10 St Cuthbert’s College


Red Hot

Hot red cheeks

As hot as a fire

Awkwardly walking down halls


Charlotte W Age 10  St Cuthbert’s College



Raised Voice


covers my face,

growling like a bear.

explodes my brain, bang,

yelling, crying,

raised voice.


Lizzie H   Age 9 St Cuthbert’s College




everywhere anywhere.

Palms slippery,

my spine

like jelly wobbling,

internally alone

tip toeing, slowly, carefully,



for forever,


Lizzie H Age 9 St Cuthbert’s College



Fizzing Body

Yellow, jumping around,

Vibrating sweating sports playing.

Leopard fast as me,

Electricity runs through my veins.


Felicity Qin Age 9 St Cuthbert’s College


Uh Oh

Holding out the lollipop

Signs in

Cars zooming

Felling like it’s my first day of school.


Isabella C Age 9 St Cuthberts College



Shadows seem to follow,

in the dark of night.

Running away,

Nobody understands.

Defeated like deflated balloons.

Grey, black, white.


Elizabeth v W Age: 10 St Cuthbert’s College


When I’m singing

Rows and rows and children sitting on the exceptional stage
My heart was beating
I felt my adrenaline pumping
The stage felt like I was in a boiling hot oven
I could hear beautiful singing
There was a HUGE crowd in front of me
My family was very supportive
The funky monkeys in the spotlight
I could feel my legs shaking
I had a HUGE grin on my face

Name: Poppy P Year level: 5 Age: 9 School: Vardon School



Jumping around like a bunch of rabbits,
can’t help smiling,
wearing my special, white dress, above the knee with a white rose,
strap wraps around my body.

My friends arriving
Lots of laughing
Talking to each other
Chomping party food
Cake brought out
I hear my friends singing Happy birthday
eating cake
smoke coming from candles like smoke from a chimney.

Nisha 7 years old Vardon School
My teacher’s email is



Greasy butter polishing the popcorn,

large cup filled with lemonade,

this place is amazing

with all the action packed picture,

the seats are as a million pillows,

snacking on sweet and sour lollies,

they make my eyes squint,

this place is the best place on

a rainy day.


Dry, flavorous popcorn,

flat lemonade with too much ice,

what I’m watching is terrible,

the picture is rubbish,


my seat is so uncomfortable

someone’s kicking the back of my chair,

pulling chewing gum off my “NIKES”,

people chattering away I’m going to leave this place

I’m full of so much anger.


Screams Everywhere, I’m hiding under my jumper,

feels like they’re popping right at me

it’s like they are going

to pop right behind me,

I’ve spilt my drink and

popcorn everywhere,

I can’t stand this anymore.

Zachary Dew Year 8 Age: 13 Northcross intermediate    

The Best Time Of The Year

Frost creeping up the window making star like crystals

The smell of pine and the wind making a soothing whistle

I dive into fluffy white powder that feels soft like cashmere

I look up at the sky the snow crystallizing like a chandelier

Drinking hot cocoa in my comfy jacket

The snow covering the city like a huge white blanket

My nose and cheeks are rosy

Watching Christmas classics nice and cosy

Making yummy gingerbread houses covered with sweets

The holidays make everyone so upbeat

Presents under the tree

Make the kids squeal with glee

Ngaire L Year 8  Northcross Intermediate Sabine Brooke


Cowering In The Corner At Night

Cowering in the corner at night,

Shadows dance against the walls,

Where is it?

I know It’s here.


It’s up on the bunk bed,

It’s here, I can hear it,

I lean into the wall,

I can sense it.


It’s coming to get me!

From under the Bed!

Close my eyes, here it comes,

Cowering in the corner at night.

Willem C Age 10 Gladstone Primary School


Ants in my Pants
In the moment,
I think into the past
the present
and the future,
jumping on the tips
of my toes.

I find a smile
appear on my face,
a smile
nothing can wipe,
I try to stop it
but it only widens.

My heart flops
on its face,
my breath quickens,
a fist pump,
a jump,
ants in my pants!

During the weekend I traveled to West Auckland (Henderson) for the Future Problem Solving nationals.

I had a great time topped of with a win which means qualification to the worlds in Michigan next year. I wrote this mood poem about how I felt….

By Ewen W aged 13, Year 8, Cobham Intermediate School, Christchurch



 Nearly Bedtime!

Eyes drooping,

Floppy thinking,

Angry people,

Minds swirling,

Drowsy kids,


Nearly Bedtime!


Headaches coming,

Exasperated stomping,

Drained of any thought,

Sleepy children,

Drowsy ideas,




Nearly Bedtime!

Ella E Age 10 Y5 Gladstone Primary School Auckland



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Jasper St Peters School Cambridge


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Rory St Peters School Cambridge



A Blue Feeling
I stared out the window looking
At the dark and miserable clouds
At the same time, I glared
At the rain falling onto the
Ground with the others coming with them.
They reminded me of the time
When my great grandfather died of old age.

The Pink Flowers

The pink flowers
On the field,
Danced together with the wind
Elegantly and gently,
As though it was conducting a show.
And as the endless show lasted continuously,
Something flashed in my heart.
I remembered the time
When my sister was born 2 years ago.

The Green Swivelling Leaves
As I lay down in the shade,
Peacefully and quietly,
I closed my eyes
And thought of all the times
When it was like now.
I thought for a little while
Until I thought of something.
I remembered the time,
When I was at the beach,
Hearing the waves colliding into the sea shore.

By Akiko O 9 years old  St Andrew’s College



It strikes over me like lightening
It’s always happiness, it’s never anger
Its love to feel it, its hatred to not
The world depends on it
If it is gone the world is tumbled

Lily E, 8yrs, St Andrews Preparatory
A shadow
looms over me
like rain clouds
over a city.

My hands tremble
like lips in
a stutter.

My eyes search
for an exit,
ice in
a desert.

My heart beat rides
a tsunami wave,
rising as it nears,
the land.

My head is positioned
straight like a china doll
awaiting what it is
above me.

By Ewen W aged 13, Year 8, Cobham Intermediate School, Christchurch

Mood poem (1)
Grey, black, very stormy.
Pink, yellow, lots of fun.
Purple, blue, with their stories filled with sadness.

Mood poem (2)
Blue, sad, stories that are never ending.
Yellow, happy, a number of fairy tales.
Pink, glowing, watch it all light up,
green, fun, play all day,
purple, calm, see it fade…

Name: Frances Age: 8  School:Fendalton Open Air School

On the floor, the floor so cold

Lies the bones, the bones so old

The moss creeps through the sewer grate

The rats pour out and seal your fate

The putrid smell burns your nose

Through a crack a thorn bush grows

Behind the door of solid iron

They will never hear your crying

The lock is tough, you’ll never crack it

It can be heard, the shout of static

The shackles are cold on your wrists

You struggle free with a twist

Through the bars you see a ray of light

Then down goes the sun and outcomes the night

The drip in the corner is making you insane

Then you hear clank of a chain

You suddenly feel the worst of pains

Then your skull cracks open and outcome your brains

The grey stone floor is now drenched in blood

Your lifeless body drops with a thud

The floor now has a new set of bones

Lying on the old, cold stones


Ben H Year 7 11 Years old St Peters Cambridge<>


I. Eruption

It is so frustrating
I want to punch the wall
And stomp in heavy boots
All the way down the hall

II. Complete

Sometimes I want to do this
And I just don’t know why
I just want to jump up
Very very high!

III. Frozen

I run
I hide
I panic
I just can’t

IV. Drooping

A tear
I know
It is not
to be a
good day

Finn Pearce, Year 4, Age 8, Ilam School, Kerrin Davidson Creative Writing Teacher





My 1000th post on Poetry Box needs a wee celebration – a piece of cake for me and something for you



Woohooo!  This is my 1000th post on NZ Poetry Box.

This needs a wee celebration so I am about to have tea and cake.

To celebrate I will have a challenge:


Write a poem on any subject you like, however you like.

I will be choosing a few poems that stand out.


Will your poem sound good when I read it out loud?

Will your poem surprise me somewhere (it doesn’t have to)?

Will you use words that stand out?

How will your poem catch my eye or ear?

Think about about all the things you have explored on Poetry Box.



DEADLINE for your 1000th-Poem Challenge: Friday 27th November

Send to Include your name, year, age and name of school. You can include your teacher’s name and email.     This is a different email address to my usual one that is going wonky

PLEASE say it’s for the 1000th-Poem challenge. Put in the subject line of the email please.

I will post my favourites and have a bundle of books for at least one poet (Year 0 to Year 8).


making patterns at Port Chalmers

My last session at Port Chalmers was with a group of students who loved writing. I gave them two challenges. We played with form and made a poem using a pattern of repeating lines. We hooked up a memory and told a little story within the pace of a poem. I loved the echoey sound of the pattern poems and the vividness of the memories.

This was my last session at the school so it was really sad to say goodbye and set off on the long journey home. I still have poems to post from the older children, but thank you everyone for a fabulous visit. I didn’t even mind the biting cold!


I loved working with you all – do send me your poems if you finish them. Remember to include year and name of school.


A Drop of Rain

Deep heavy rain

like metal shavings

Deep heavy rain

dances through the air

like a zigzag

sounds like big angry bears

Deep heavy rain

Joshua Y6



A raging rain

wild like a lion

A raging thunderstorm

zapping tall objects

A pain that shall

not pass when hit

A raging thunderstorm

Connor age 12


A Cloud

When the clouds move

everything feels like a sloth

slowly and subtly

when the clouds move

I hear squawks

I see dancing wings

I feel the wind

when the clouds move

Sersha Y6



The dark, moonlit sky

Stars simmer like glitter

The dark, moonlit sky

Swishes of blue mixed together

Shining down on us

The moon starts to brighten

The dark, moonlit sky

Poppy Y7


Christmas Poem

Open eyes

mumbled voices

lot of bright lights.

People gather

can’t speak

just cry.


Everyone gathering around

opening gifts

then someone walks over

and gives me

a box

and the night sky

was dark

then eyes close again

George Y8


Laughing Out of Fear

The car ascends the track

I hold on tight

I am unmoved

We slow to red light

I march back in line

Seldom calm

Mahia Y6


The Elephant Seal

A golden site

heavy grey lump

like a lifeless body

as baby moves further away

people sneak closer

mother gets angry

and creeps closer

everyone moves away.

Josh Y6



Dark vision

taste of excitement

my legs getting heavier

blind folded

light exploding

peaches and cream making it brighten

Najila Y6








poems from Waitakere; my local school!

I have got poem mail!

I  invited the students to send me poems after my workshop recently. Here are a few that arrived in my mailbox (my gmail account shut down for 3 or 4 days so things went haywire! Half my mail has gone missing).

I was especially delighted to see the strong detail and the attention to sound.

Thank you. I so loved my time with you.


Soccer Field
Holes that could break ankles
Wind chilling your spine
Parents getting frustrated
Place of friendship and teamwork
By Jack Y8


The Tournament

Basketballs bounce in counter rhythm

Violent shouts

Coach’s screams

Over aggressive play

Sour smell of overheated bodies

Jousting sharp elbows

By Wade Y8



The snarling waves swallowed
the once calm sea, and attacked the debris-covered
sand. There is no way to escape this hunting beast
that sooner or later will send me to my watery grave.

Fraeya Y7/8



Speed Way

Banning, crashing

Demolition to the max

Flipping and smacking agents, the wall

The best place to be

Smoking engines, tiers flying

Heart pounding, pumping racing

The future me

Maddy Y8



Shouting squeals echoed here,
Sparkling water lapped
Pohutukawa trees watched
The dock invited
I smile- remembering.
I now see breezy ghosts
It’s us – me and friends.
We’re like a distorted photograph.
Reality fades back now
Pohutukawa trees sway
The dock awaits
Dull water calms.
I’m glad that all happened.

Alicia Y8


The Beach

Blue, white and black

Nature’s potion surrounds

Sitting, watching and burning

Ripples of heat undulate

Drifting, calling and dancing

Foreign waves collide

Laughing, screaming and sprinting

Hearts pulse with the ocean

Alice Y8


Tauranga Bay

Scuttling legs, piercing pincers,

Armoured bodies, hidden beneath dark crevasses,

Rushing waves, salty weeds,

Murky water, concealing fishy deeds,

Grained sand, warmed marble,

Oyster catchers nesting, letting out their high piercing warble,


Tuatua, mussels, both shelled well,

One resides under wave while the other prefers rock,

Fixed to its home by an unbeatable lock,

Wind scarred dunes, mottled by grass,

green like the seaweed, shining like glass,

Sun on the waves, orange and yellow,

Into the sunset, as the tide turns mellow.

Ngakau Y8


Bethells Cafe

The stars shone like fire

The rich blue night sky

The sand on my feet

The lights from the band

The smell: burgers and chips

The sounds: a sweet melody

The taste: a rich happiness

The dunes: a Te Henga shape

Molly B