Poem Bonanza Monday: S O U N D two challenges and some tips

March is here and our garden is sizzling with sound.

I can hear the tui cadawlingphewphewbrrbrrrwitwit and the cicadas long legs rubbing kzkzkzkzkzkzkzkzkzkzkzkzkzkzkzkzkz

One tui sounds just like our dog Molly and I think Molly is already up! It tricks me every morning!

For me, sound is one of the most delightful and important things about a poem.

I love reading poems that S O U N D good. This doesn’t mean a poem about sound but a poem that sounds good when you read it aloud (although it  might be about sounds).



Some sound tips:

Here are some tips to help make a poem sound good:

1. pick a topic and try collecting words first and then playing with how you put them together (like jamming!)

2. play with how many words you put on a line, keep  the same number or have different numbers. Make a pattern of how many words on each line. Listen. What sounds best?

3. do a test poem with no more than ten words. Listen to it

4. test out different words on the end of the line

5. try hiding rhyme in your poem

6. try finding words that nearly rhyme but don’t quite (stop it, bucket, Antarctica, shark)

7. find words that pop on the line because they sound so good

8. use long words and short words or just words with one syllable. Listen to the difference

9. read your poem out loud and listen to the line that sounds good

10. find a poem by someone else that sounds good. Listen to what it does


A poetry challenge:

1. Read my tips on making a poem sound good.

2. Pick a few to play with.

3. Write a poem.

4. Use no more than 20 words (or a few more is okay).



A second poem challenge:

Find a poem by a New Zealand poet that sounds good. Share it with me and I will see if I can get permission to post it on Poetry Box. Tell me which parts sound good. I will choose up to three and have a book prize for those children or classes that find me a good one. Deadline is same as below.


I will post my favourites and have a book prize for one young poet (Year 1 to 8).

Deadline: Wednesday March 11th

Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age, year and name of school. You can include your name of teacher and their email address if you like.

Poetry Box 2015

Welcome back to Poetry Box.

After a very busy year, I had a  lovely summer doing lots of reading (mostly novels!), swimming, walking and gardening. Doing different things gave me lots of energy ready to start the new year.

Three special things turned up in my mail boxes to surprise and delight me!

Daniel and Gemma sent me a hand-painted poetry stone. Thank you!

An Arrowtown poetry fan sent me a handmade decoration to go on my Christmas tree. Send me an email so I can write back! Thank you!

And I found out Poetry Box won the 2014 Poetry category of The Public Blogger Awards which is based in Los Angeles. My blog was selected from a shortlist of 7 blogs from all round the world. I was very touched to be picked. I danced a wee dance in my study! Wow! Thank you!


This year I am going to be busy writing new books but I will still have some time to run this blog and my adult blog, Poetry Shelf.


This year I aim to:

+ Post Poetry Bonanza Mondays: Post something every Monday morning — some tips, a challenge, interviews, book reviews.

+ Post things in between to surprise you now and then.

+ Post Poem Fridays: Post some of my favourite poems from the challenges on Fridays.

+ Plan a Fourth Fabulous Poetry Competition for Term Two and tell you about it then.


I will answer your letters but I will be busy writing every day until lunch time so I won’t be looking at my emails until after that.


A welcome back challenge – Write a summer poem:

I love poems about the seasons. Summer is almost over! I love summer so I want you to write a summer poem.


1. Real detail will make your poem pop!

2. Collect lots of summer words and things before you start. Can you collect more than 30?

(food, places, weather, the sky, things you do, things you wear, things you see and hear, what is in the garden and much much more!)

3. Think about how you will write your poem on the page.

(list poem, shape or picture poem, haiku, couplets, short, long, fat, skinny)


DEADLINE for your Summer-Poem Challenge: Wednesday March 4th

Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, year, age and name of school. You can include your teacher’s name and email. PLEASE say it’s for the Summer-Poem challenge.

I will post my favourites and have a book prize for a poet (Year 0 to Year 8).



Here are some photos from my summer holidays:

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My last post on Poetry Box for 2014 — a photo album

Letterbox CatIMG_4593IMG_4002ATreasuryOfNZPoemsForChildrenJKT_FNL.indd

Dear poetry fans,

This is my last post for 2014!

I have had a fabulous year, a busy year, a year of glowing highlights.

So thanks to everyone who contributed to Poetry Box, who shared my posts, who read the posts and who sparked children to write and read poems.

This blog would not work without you.

Thanks to everyone who made my poetry tour such a rip-roaring success. Teachers you have worked so hard to help me, along with booksellers, librarians and my publishers. And thanks to Creative New Zealand for making it all possible.

Over summer, I will think about how Poetry Box will work next year. I need more time for some exciting big secret writing projects, some little secret writing projects and just to write whatever comes to me. So while I hope to keep Poetry Box going it will be a bit different as this year was a huge amount of work for me.

The good news is it is something I love to do and I would be very sad not to keep doing it. I have loved reading your poems, especially.

So a very happy summer holidays to you all. I do hope you get time to follow your poetry spark and write a poem or two. Keep a little notebook. Look back through my blog for inspiration. Use the world for inspiration. Try writing in ways you have never tried out before. Have fun with words!

Keep safe!

Love to all,


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To celebrate the past year on Poetry Box — Russley School’s performance on The Hot Spot Poetry Tour including Apirana Taylor’s ‘haka.’ Magnificent!

IMG_7681_1 Russley School hosted the Christchurch event of The Hot Spot Poetry Tour of NZ at their school. Many of their children performed in the programme. The whole event was glorious but so good to see their students on video. The event finished with their fabulous rendition of Apirana Taylor’s poem, ‘haka.’ You can watch the performance here.

To celebrate the past year on Poetry Box — an interview with Shirley Gawith — in 90s and full of wit, grace and verve


A special day, a special author!

A highlight of my year was having lunch with Shirley Gawith and her family at their place in Mahana when I was on my Hot Spot Poetry Tour. She has a few poems in A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children so I was keen to meet her.

Shirley published several collections of children’s poetry years ago that were illustrated by her daughter. I managed to interloan them from the library. Wonderful!

We had a wee conversation before lunch. It was such a lovely place to be. We ate delicious quiche and salad and then a sweet treat. I love Shirley’s sense of humour, the sparkle in her eye and her passion for writing. I got to read some of her poems too.

What did you do as a little girl?

I was a bit of a tomboy and an outdoors girl. I like to write and at school I often came top in writing class.

What did you like to read?

Imaginative stories like those of Hans Christian Anderson and Grimm’s Fairy Tales (this would have been in the 1920s!)

Where did you go to school?

I went to Stoke in Nelson. I was Dux of the School in 1935.

What were your favourite things at school?

Language and sport.

When did you first start writing poems?

As far back as I can remember — before my teens. I lived on D’Urville Island on a farm for thirty years and my children grew up there.  I look ed after everyone and the veggie garden and taught the children until secondary school. And I wrote poems! It wasn’t easy living on an island. Sometimes I was lonely with no other women. I loved reading. I have written hundreds of poems.

What kind of poems?

Mostly for children. Limericks. Fun, playful poems. Poems that make you laugh. I think I’ve got a reasonable imagination.

I think you’ve got a terrific imagination as your poems show! What other things have you liked doing?

Painting, writing, theatrical things. I loved being on stage and I put on concerts during the war. It was a big change to move to the wilderness and live on an island.

Do you have a favourite place to write?

It can be anywhere but I would get lots of thoughts before bed and a line would grab hold of me.

What did you read your children when they were little?

Nursery rhymes and stories like Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit. The Little Golden Books. Fairy tales.

Your poetry books are a joy to read. What do you like writing about writing poems?

They just seem to come naturally. A word comes into my head and it starts me on a poem.

Your poems are full of zest, great sounds and a wonderful imagination as we both agreed. What do you think makes a good poem?

The sounds that the words make, and the rhythm of the poem.

I think Shirley’s poems always sound good and have a delicious, bouncing imagination. It was very special to read them. Here are a few that I read over lunch:

A Puzzle

An adder can’t add, which seems rather sad,

And a cricket has never played cricket,

A bat cannot bat, it is quite certain that

Neither creature has heard of a wicket.

Butterflies flutter, but do not like butter.

©Shirley Gawith

Rain Talk

Halfway to a dream last night

I heard a whispering rain

Telling secrets softly

Against my window pane.

Faster, faster fell the raindrops,

Whispers turned to prattle,

A noisy chattering that made

My bedroom rattle.

©Shirley Gawith

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An award-winning book from Te Papa: 100 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa — this is a treasure box


Te Papa Press makes beautiful books. This book was first published in 2012 and was a winner at the Children’s Book Awards. It is a fabulous, fun, facty book that really inspires me to do things!

i    l o v  e     t   h  i   s      b  o  o  k  !

This is the perfect book to have over summer because it is a DIP and DELVE book.

You can SINK into pictures and SWIM through facts and GLIDE through stories.

There are even DVDs of the TV series Tales from Te Papa.

Simon Morton and Riria Hotere were the EXPLORERS and DELVERS and AUTHORS of the book.

Some of my favourite topics so far:

Cloud of Kiwi English

Almighty Albatross

Dinosaur Tooth

Ocean Armour

Whale of a Mystery

Art of Tinned Food

Pigeon Post

Mail Order Moths

Seaweed Pantry

Snail Mail

Nature’s Hitchhikers

Pacific Princess