An Ode to Autumn is a very fine thing

Ewen wrote a magnificent ode to autumn so I thought I would post it as we are now in the thick of this season. The mornings are crispy cold at the beach. The leaves are starting to fall. I love the sound of Ewen’s poem and the the way the images and the mood grows. Wonderful!

This is what Ewen said:

I wrote my ode about Autumn. The last and second to last lines rhyme, even though they didn’t need to but I thought they sounded better that way. I also read an ode  which was called Ode to Pablo’s Shoes. I liked how it sounded good when I read it out.

Ode to Autumn

From majestic trees
drop brown leaves,
the wind sweeping them
into nearby gutters.

Rain comes to visit
along with dark sky,
out from hibernation
and into their time.

The flowers of spring
limp and brown,
the sun of summer
chased far away,
the scarves of winter
not yet to be found,
but the leaves of Autumn,
are in abundance all ’round.

Ewen W aged 12, Year 8, Cobham Intermediate School, Christchurch

My favourite odes to things


So many poems about things. So many things coming to life in poems. Such  great detail. So many lines that sing in your ears.

Thank you so much for getting busy with poems about things. I loved reading them all but couldn’t post all my favourites. There so many! If you missed out this time do try my holiday challenges and all my Monday challenges next term.

I am sending a surprise book to William, Frances and Gryffin. Congratulations!



Ode to my teddy bear

I’ve had him

ever since I was born.

I sleep with him

every night.

He isn’t furry

any more

because I hugged

all the fur off him.

I called him teddy/ted.

He has cute outy ears

and little paddy hands.

Daisy,   Age: 8,  Ilam School



Ode To a Slide

Comes in all colours

And shapes,

Mostly found in playgrounds,

With all the swings

And other things,

Children climb my

Tarnished ladder

All the way to the top,

Then slide down joyfully

And do it all again,


They all leave me here,


By Fia R Age 9, West End School, Palmerston North




Ode to a Blackboard

Crisp black

in the manic classroom

having chalk

scraped across

its lifeless area,

just sitting there

staring at the students

next to the teacher,


kids take zero interest in me

because of the noise I make

if you dare to scratch me!


By Gryffin P, 10 years old in Y6 at West End School, Palmerston North


Ode to a Necklace

That necklace I wear
Under the moon
The way it gleams
Underneath my chin
Joy to that blinding glimmer
How it enchants that muddy old riverbank
to a mirror of light
And leaves patterns in the air
You can’t see them, but they’re there
Those hot summer roads
Become velvet pathways
Give praise to the necklace
That gives off that touch

Frances, 8 years, Ilam School


Ode to lunch box

When the bell rings

I only want you

My little red rectangle

I open you eagerly

Hoping for you to fill my taste buds

Thank you for your services

For the past five years

Will you come with me

For my two years at intermediate?

Thimeth, age 10, Ilam School, Christchurch


Ode to Hagley Park

Screen shot 2015-03-26 at 12.37.12 PM

Finlay, aged 8, Fendalton Open Air School, Christchurch


Ode to Swimming

I praise swimming

because of the way

the water moves

from one side

to the other.


Because of how cold

and how warm

and how deep the water gets.


The way flippers help

with kicking in the water

and how fast

they let you go.


The way the flippers bend automatically.

The way the water reflects your face

so you can see

how you look.

William S, Aged 7, Year 3, St Andrews School


I Love Ponies

I love the smell of fresh clean ponies when they snuggle up to you,
Ponies are my love.

I hear the soft whinny when they come to see what you are doing,
Ponies are my love.

When they make the wind blow through my hair, when they let you do whatever they want on them,
Ponies are my love.

Lily, Year 3, Aged 7, St Andrews School

‘The Paula Green Method': Something for me to think about and some poems from Russley School

Melanie works with a writing group at Russley School in Christchurch and sent in some poems which I really loved. So  I am going to share them with you.

But first …

Melanie also sent me on a fascinating train of thought as she said she used what she calls ‘The Paula Green Method.’ Which was rather cool but got me wondering if I do have a set method.

I guess there are some key things at work when I do poetry workshops.

I want children to fall in love with language and play.

Sometimes it can be a bit daunting to write a poem cold so we often go on word hunts. Which is what they did. There is no one way to do this but helps build a word field to play in.

I also strongly believe poetry can ignite the most reluctant writer and set them on all manner of discovery paths. Important!

Poetry can also challenge a sophisticated writer to take new risks.

I am more inclined to open doorways and paths than have a set goal in mind. If the child has sparked that is gold.

One day I need to down and write up the method(s) to my poetry madness!

I love the sound of these poems and the glorious detail. They are surprising. They build pictures and they build mood. I love the way they have played with how the poem sits on the page (form) and the way the lines move. Wonderful job! I am honoured you used a bit of my method to get here.

Here are the poems:

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An Ode to Cricket at Kings School and a couple of Storms!

photo 1

Last week I visited Y5 and 6 students at Kings School. I especially loved the way the very lovely librarian made a display of my books and a poem with my name running down the middle –an inventive form of an acrostic poem. How creative! What a warm welcome!

In our session we played with lines, I read poems and we made up poems together.

The exciting cricket semi-final between New Zealand and South Africa had been on the night before so we finished up by hunting for lines that might go in ‘An Ode to Cricket.’ This is what we came up with. I thought it would be fun to play with the lines and do a second draft which I have posted after our first draft.

photo 2


Ode to Cricket

Pitching the hard ball

the bat swings

the bat whips the ball

the bat sweeps the ball

explodes blasts flashes

the ball out of the park,


lifting over

cries and cheers from the crowd,

ear-splitting screeches.

The bowler sweats with pressure

pitching the ball hard.



After that I did three workshops on the sorts of things I do when I am building up to a poem. We hunted for words and we hunted for lines. I heard some terrific lines from each of the groups. One class used this starting point to come up with their completed storm poems. Their teacher sent me two of her favourites. I really loved the way the students rolled up their sleeves and got stuck into writing poems with imaginations searching and vocabularies soaring. It was a great visit! Thank you.


The Storm
Thrashing rain

Devastating crashes

Wind whipping trees

Dogs howling for mercy

Thunder smashes lightning

Crackles endlessly

Triumphant trees stripped

Through the rages the sun still shines

By Denis Y5



The rain is gushing away

Old newspapers rustling in the sky

No cars to be seen

Leaves running into the sunset

The wind fading up to the gods

By Matthew Y5



Poetry Bonanza Monday; a little pack of popping poetry news and surprises for you



This is the last week of Term One!  Happy holidays dear poetry fans!

1. Last night the NZ cricket team showed they can be gracious winners and gracious losers. For me good cricket can be like poetry which ever side is shining!

2. Yesterday I went to the Storylines Award Ceremony where new writers won awards that will see their very first book published. Exciting!

Storylines also announced the Notable Book Awards for 2014. I was very delighted that The Letterbox Cat and Other Poems and A Treasury of NZ Poems For Children were picked. I got to read three poems there. I read one by me, one by my hero Margaret Mahy and Caleb‘s fabulous poem ‘The Poet’ (he was from Russley School in Christchurch).  Storylines work hard for children and children’s books all year!

Poetry doesn’t know where its home is! Sometimes it is non fiction and sometimes it is junior fiction! I always think it is fiction as so much of poetry is invented but sometimes it records the world and then I think it is non fiction …. so I guess it belongs in both places.


3. This week I am going to post my favourite odes on Thursday.


4. This week  I am also going to post a surprise pack of poems I got from Russley School that I just LOVE!

5. And I will tell you about my fabulous visit to another school.

6. In the first week of term Three I will announce the details of The Fourth Fabulous Poetry Competition!


7. I have started work on my next collection of poems for children … using the titles you gave me on my Hot Spot Poetry Tour. It is such fun.  It will take me at least a year to write these poems.

8. You still have time to send me an Ode to Cricket!

9. During the holidays you can write me a letter in the form of a poem and tell me something wonderful you saw. Details below.

10. Interview challenge: I am on the hunt for children and classes to interview NZ writers again this year. If you want  to do this you need to tell me the name of the author and why you want to interview them. You need to tell me your name, school, age, year and name of teacher and if you are a whole class. I will pick my favourites and see if I can get the author to do the interview  with you. I will post this challenge again at the beginning of Term 2. If I pick you, I will give your more details. I will have a prize pack of books for my favourite interview.




Ode to Cricket challenge

I visited Kings School last week and in my session with all the Y5 and 6 students we wrote an ode to cricket. It was the morning after NZ’s World-Cup semi final so we were all a wee bit tired having stayed up late. I will do a post on my visit this coming week.

Meanwhile to celebrate all the fabulous cricket we have witnessed in New Zealand and Australia over the past months, I challenge you to write an ode to cricket. I am going to have a go too.

An ode is a way of singing the praises of something.

Find great detail.

Use real detail.

Use good cricket words.

Hunt for excellent verbs.

Listen to every line.

DEADLINE for your Cricket-Poem Challenge: Tuesday 31st March

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

I will post my favourites on Wednesday and have a book for one poet.

Using your ears: some of my favourite poems

Letterbox Cat

There was a slight mix-up with ‘storm‘ being a topic for two weeks in a row. But they were two different challenges! Thanks for sending in all the poems. I loved reading them.

With this challenge I asked you to use your ears. To listen to what you wrote as you wrote and after you had written it.

It was very easy for me to pick these two favourites as they sing in my ear so beautifully. They sound so very, very good. I love the way the words pop on the lines, the different lengths of lines (poems can have same length lies too!), the way the lines flow. Test them out for yourself!

Because they sound so good they make strong moods in the poems too.

I am sending both young poets a copy of my book The Letterbox Cat. Congratulations!


I Know It’s Raining

Just me and him,
Behind the sofa,
Next to the fire.

He’s purring,
His soft, grey fur is vibrating on my lap,
But I can’t hear him.
Because it’s raining.

I know it’s raining.
The fat drops were endlessly throwing themselves before carelessly splashing the wet window.

He stares out the window, glad to be inside.
It’s dark outside but we can hear it.
Like thunder,
You can just hear the wind,
Howling like an unloved dog.

Torrential rain,
The fire,
And us,
From the storm, that we know is there.

by Beth M, aged 7, Ramarama School



The Storm

Dark, gloomy, cold.

A place of sadness,

A place of wildness,

No life remains.


The sun is hidden

Behind thick rain clouds in the sky.

The world is grey and dull.

The sea washes onto the beach,

The sand disappears under piles of trash.

The once busy pier

Is deserted and crumbling into the sea.


By Maya W Age 7 St Andrews College, Christchurch