This week on NZ Poetry Box and Ready Steady Go

A short week on NZ Poetry Box after a very lovely long weekend.

Tomorrow I will post another Poetry Play and on Friday I will post one of my poems. Each day I will give you a mini challenge.

Today though I am going to answer a question Tierney sent me: ‘How do you get your ideas?’

Tierney also wondered whether there are ways to encourage ideas to come to you more frequently?

Instead of hunting for ideas for poems I gather starting points. It is like I have a radio antenna stuck off my sun cap and it collects little things. Things that surprise me, make me feel something, make me look twice at something, make me laugh, make me remember something. Most importantly my antenna collects little things that make me start playing with words.

Then I will write these starting points in a little notebook (it can fit in a pocket).

Here are five favourite ways I get my starting points and from these starting points I like to play:

1. Words. I love collecting words or things I hear people say. Like when I heard Michael say the surfboard on the car next to us looked like a surf ladder. So then I started thinking of weird things like why not a grasshopper bat? Maybe this will make it into one of my poems!

2. Things. A thing is a great starting point for a poem. Maybe it is a favourite thing, or someone else’s favourite thing, or a thing you had forgotten about, or a thing you see when you go out. Start collecting a list of things that fascinate you or that seem very ordinary.

When I write a poem I can leapfrog from a thing to all kinds of words.

3. Memory. I love digging up something that happened to me once or I saw and turning it into a poem (sometimes a memory just comes in a flash!). Like something that made me happy or mad or sad or puzzled or proud or scared or bored or full of laughter or surprised (the list could go on and on!)

4. Experience. I love using things that happen to me as the starting point for a poem. It might be as small or as big as dropping the frying pan on my foot or watching the kereru flap and crash into our windows or eating an Easter egg or flying to another country.

5. Imagination. I love letting my imagination go when I write poetry. I often ask what if. What if a woman has a really tall hat and keeps things inside it? What if I am so stretchy I can stretch into outer space? What if you cross an albatross with a crocodile? I have written poems  from all these starting points.

Do you have some great starting-point tips? I would be happy to post any tips from other writers or teachers or parents or students on this one. Send to

If you are a child include your name, age, year and name of school.

Or take one of my starting points, write a poem and send it to me (Children up to Year 8). Don’t forget to say it it is the starting point challenge. Include your name, age, year, name of school. You could also include your teacher’s name and email if you like.

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