Monthly Archives: August 2013

my grandmother’s garden, Piha, Onetangi and Maui … sizzling, simmering, shining

Here are the poems I have picked to post by the Year 6 children at Titirangi Primary School.  Not cats but favourite places.


Chelsea is 10. I really love this poem-picture she made of her grandmother’s garden. The real detail helped the picture grow. I especially love the way ‘garden’ is in the title but there is a slightly different word at the end of the poem.  I hope her grandmother reads this. Great job Chelsea!

My Grandmother’s Garden

Planting roses, bluebells and daffodils throughout the day

skipping under the sun, dancing and laughing.

Her purple cloak drags along the pebbly path

birds chirping, the wind howling.

Oh, I love my grandmother’s gardening.


Isabel is 11. I love the thoughtfulness of this poem. It took me right to the gallery and I felt like I was standing there looking at a painting. I really like the ending. It makes me pause and wonder too. Great job Isabel!

The Art Gallery

Cold stone tiles under my feet.

Sounds echo in the rooms.

People talking. Discussing.

Inspiration fills the building.

Glass walls show the world real art.

Bright colours and historic art meet.

Wonderment fills the eyes of the onlookers.

Big doors open.

A garden with sculptures surround me.

Green grass.

Stone sculptures.

It makes me pause, then wonder.


Cassidy is 11. I love the delicious words on the end of the lines in this poem. The poem makes a terrific picture of Piha. This is not any beach it is most definitely Piha so the words work well. Great job Cassidy!

Piha Beach

The hot black sand is burning

kids splashing in the shallows

Lion Rock is standing proud

the big dunes are covered in soft black sand

surfers are running across the beach.


Heather is 10. I love the bright detail in this poem. And the way the poem moves to the last line. Some very tasty words make this poem shine.  Great job Heather! 

Onetangi Beach

Skuttling crabs, hiding in the jagged rocks

Waves rippling on the long sandy shores

Children swimming, diving, playing

Pohutukawa trees

Casting shadows on the sand

Birds chirping like ongoing whistles,

Onetangi Beach.


Reid is 10. Reid has shown you don’t need to use heaps of words to write a cool poem. I love the delicious words, the striking images. I love saying this poem out loud: ‘sharp dark rocks’ — how good is that. I think Reid has made a poem postcard. Great job Reid!

The Beaches of Maui

Lots of loungers, light bright sand

like a burning hot oven, crashing

white waves, sharp dark rocks

people sunbathing all around and a 

big blue ocean view.









silly cats, baked-bean cats, cats cats cats!

This week I did some writing workshops at Titirangi Primary School. The children wrote some terrific poems, but what I really loved was the conversation we had about the poems when they read them out. We had an hour and half per session so we could really take our time. The students were great at listening to each other and picking out the little bits of XFactor in each poem. So congratulations budding poets — I really loved working with you. I loved the way you took up the challenges.

I have picked some poems from each session to post. These are from the Year 4 and 5 group. I was in the mood for cat poems, so we wrote about cats (plus a dog or two, a mouse and a bunny!). We went on a big cat word hunt and then used our ears to listen as we wrote.

Luke is aged 8 and is in Year 4. I love the first line of this poem as I am not sure what will come next. I also like the length of the lines he chose. They work well here. And I love the eating! Great job Luke!

Where’s My Snowball?

White blur, white blur

here and there

it looks like a

snowball fight

no, no, no

it is just my cat

chasing a big, juicy rat.

Ruby is aged 10. I love the first line of the poem and I love the last line and I love all the lines in between. This poem tells a little story and it sounds good. Great job Ruby!

My Silly Silly Cat

Tip toeing closer to the pantry

meowing a high pitch


looking around with

big eyes

then gobble gobble gobble,

down goes the whipped cream

and biscuits.

Meg is 9 and in Year 5. Meg is got great detail in her poem. I can picture the cat so well in my  mind because of the real things Meg thought of. Her poem flows well and tells a story. Great job Meg.

A Fat Cat’s Life

My cat always

sleeps on my bed

and begs to be patted.

She is curious because

she was found in the wild.

She loves baked beans

but since she’s fat

she has to eat diet food.

Her eyes are bright and shining.

She hides under my parent’s bed

when other cats are around

because she is scared.

Her fur is short

but it’s soft and smooth,

and she often whines by her food bowl.

Her eyes are half closed when she’s happy.

She plays with a toy mouse

and her name

is Toki.

Kiera is aged 9 and is in Year 5. I love the sounds in this poem — the way you go from dab to dob to red and bed. Kiera has picked lots of words that shine in the line. Plus I liked the ending. It surprised me.Great job Kiera!

Lexus Texas Burger Bear

She’s brown

with a hint of ginger.

She has a dab of white

and a dob of red.

She hides under the bed

and bathes in the sun.

She’s my cat

that one,

as cheeky as she is

wonderful and kind

and all she wants to do

is cuddle up to you.

At night she creeps over the fence

and strides up a tree

and stalks her prey,

and when she comes home

she turns Mum’s hair grey.

Louis is aged 8 and is in Year 4. I love this poem because it surprised me. I like the way the first two lines swap about. I like the word ‘hiss’ on the end of the line. I like the way chase rhymes with pace. There is a lot of splendid action in this poem and some very shiny words. Great job Louis!


Gala swiftly chasing minor birds

minor birds chasing Gala.

Now they come to peck her.

She sees a dog and starts to hiss

but when the dog

starts to chase,

brown fur on its end,

off she goes

pace by pace.

Oscar is aged 10 and is in Year 5. I love the way you can tell Oscar loves his bunny in this poem. He has chosen great words and his poem has a great rhythm. Great job Oscar!

My Bunny So Cuddly & Cute

A flash of brown, white and black


all over the place

so so soft and


My bunny is funny,

he nibbles holes

in my pants.

A warm, cosy

bunny, so lovely

to have.

I hear

soft foot

steps on the wood

coming closer

& closer,

So fast and

cute, my favourite


Arlo is aged 8 and is in Year 4. I love this poem. Mumford sounds a bit mischievous. Arlo has really made the dog come alive in his poem as he has hunted for great detail.  This poem sounded good read aloud. It told a story. (Yes the dog is named after Mumford and Sons) Great job Arlo!

My Dog Mumford

My dog Mumford

is brown, grey and black

with smooth straight hair

on his back

he always

sleeps on my bed

my feet always feel

his furry little head

he chases our cats

which he gets in trouble for

and then my mum

locks him out the back door

he barks and yaps and then

my mum

lets him n again

but then

he gets my rugby ball

and runs with it right up

the hall.

two sheep under a tree

Today on the way to the beach I saw two sheep under a tree and it gave me an idea for poems, but when I came back to photograph them for you there were no longer two sheep under a tree. They had vamooshed!


But… not far down the road I saw two horses under a tree staring at me. Amazing! So I thought that could be the starting point for a poem too. You could do horses or sheep in my suggestions.

So here are some poem challenges for the weekend:

1. I took a photo of the horses, why not ‘take a poem‘ of the horses (or sheep). So your poem would be catching the horses with words.

2. Think of the horse words you can (or sheep) and play with them until you come up with a horse (or sheep) poem.

3. ‘Two horses under a tree’ or ‘Two sheep under a tree’ might be the last line — but where else might they be? This might be Dr Seuss zany or more serious. It might rhyme or not rhyme.

4. Try a writing a horse poem (or sheep of course) using ten verbs (action words or doing words).

5. Try a writing a two horses under a tree poem with a surprising ending.


Have fun and send to Include your name, age ,year and anme of school.

Akaroa, Lake Wanaka and Boyne Island -these poems moved me on Poetry Box

When I was in Christchurch I visited Fendalton Open Air School, and did a long workshop with keen writers. It was such a great experience for me as the room buzzed with scratching pens and poems. I loved the way students were willing to give anything a go and take their poems into the playground of words. Thank you lovely young poets – visiting you was a treat!

Here are three poems that caught my ear as the students stood and shared them.

Rory is aged ten and in Year 5. I love this poem. I love the way the words curve and repeat and sing and shine. It makes a place I have never been to (I want to very much!) come alive in my mind – a little glowing Akaroa. Great job Rory!


Glistening sun
burning down on hills
like a ray of fire.
Birds chirping
and slowly
gliding down from the cloudless sky.
People laughing
and talking
as they tread down the sloped hills.
Hotels standing
tall and still
like trees not making a sound.
Not much sound
as the mountains
stand tall and quiet.
As the cars
take off

dirt flies behind.



Patrick wrote this wonderful poem about a place he went to stay in Australia after the quake. When I hear him read it i could hear the love he felt for it shimmering in every line. The short lines work a treat. I love the build up of things that make the place so vivid. Great job Patrick!

Boyne Island


My friends,

Shouting my name,

Bell ringing,

Lunch is over,

Lots of work,

But not so hard,

Library time,

It’s like another planet,

Home time,

A house on stilts,

Heavy rain,


Heavy rain,








Too hot at times,

Too cold at times,

The new world,

I wish to escape,

And travel there,

But gravity will not let me,


Thick and thin,

Salty air,

Rusting our BBQ,

Wake up early,

Reading when the world’s asleep,

The bridge,

Gateway to this paradise.


Charlotte wrote this poem. She is 11 and in Year 6. I really love this poem as it has surprising lines that make me see Lake Wanaka a bit differently. I also like the shifting rhythms in the poem. Great job Charlotte!



Lake Wanaka Beach


Water lapping

ducks aboard the water

low cloud sinking down


Drowning boulders

startled people

running across

the beach

screaming and yelling


Whistling wind

puts shivers to



Boggy swamps

trees not free

never a hope to live


Tourists noises

camera clicks

taking in what’s

best to them

sometimes it is wonderful getting really wet

It was one of those poetry days on the beach this morning with the wind tearing like a wild thing up and down and the hail nipping my cheeks like a fierce puppy. Some tourists were racing back, sopping wet. Soon I was sopping wet and all I could see were the faint dots of Michael and the dogs running in the distance. Sometimes it is really wonderful getting really wet and really cold before you get home to get really warm and eat a piping hot savoury scone before you have to go out and do things.


a little rosie rosie poem that is oh so cool!

When I was at Storylines Family Day in Auckland I had a box where children could post poems for NZ Poetry Box.I am now posting the winner. See below for the prize.

I really love this little poem by Emma. Emma is in Year 1 and aged 5. Hip hooray Emma, this is a beautiful poem. I do hope you send in some more. Even 5 year olds can go in the competitions.


Rosie Rosie lives

in a crack in my garden

Rosie Rosie is an ant


Thanks to Scholastic Emma will get a copy of There’s a Hole in My Bucket. The story is beautifully illustrated by Jenny Cooper and the song is sung by The Topp Twins. (Scholastic, 2013).


Story poems can be short, story poems can be long – runaway sheep and santa’s elf

Here are two poems that got sent in for the fabulous poetry competition. One is short and one is long. Both of these poems rhyme but remember story poems don’t always have to rhyme. Sometimes I read poems where the rhyme fights so hard to rhyme it no longer makes sense which is a trap! Sometimes it stops the flow of the story. But when it is good it can help the flow and add to the music of the poem. Like it does here!


Cara is 8 and goes to Freemans Bay Primary School in Auckland (this poem made me laugh!).


Run away sheep

I looked at my boss and heard him yell as loud as a bell

Some sheep have escaped from a peak

So I looked out the window and what did I see

A mountain of sheep running to a creek.


Louie is in Year 5, is aged 9 and goes to St Martins Primary School in Christchurch. He has written a longer poem that also made me laugh! The rhyme here works beautifully.


The Naughty Elf

Santa was asleep, dosing in bed,

when away snuck an elf by the name of Fred.

Fred was naughty and Fred was bad,

Fred was horrid and would even trick his dad.

Fred was clever and Fred was quick,

Fred was sneaky and Fred was slick.

Fred went away to do something nasty

and I can assure you that it was dastardly.

Fred’s plan was bad and certainly not nice,

Fred was going to fill Santa’s pillow with ice!

Fred pulled out the pillow, smooth as actress,

Santa’s head fell and rested on his mattress.

Fred brought the pillow over to the freezer,

it was cold and frosty and made him feel queasier.

Fred got the tray and poured in the ice,

and just for good measure, poured in some spice.

Fred pushed the pillow back in the dead of the night,

Santa woke up quickly; it gave him such a fright.

But Santa saw Fred escape, out the creaking door,

and gave him a big punishment — mopping up the floor.

on the beach, a brick

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The beach is magnificent in the morning. Hardly any people. I see if I can recognise the footprints. Sometimes mine are the first! I follow along in the steps of a bird or a dog or a local.

Today though I saw a brick. It seemed strange to see a brick on the beach. It made little poems buzz in my head as walked along. That’s the thing about poems — they can start anywhere, anytime, any place. A brick seems like a strange place to start a poem but I will give it a go. Keep an eye out for things that surprise you — then start writing!



The Brick

On the beach

a golden brick, maybe

it travelled across the Tasman Sea

in a beautiful pale green boat

with an owl and a pussy cat,

singing songs for the moon

that I see soft and white

in the morning sky.

at the end of our garden is the Lake of Fog

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This is what I saw when I looked out the window this morning. It felt like the starting point for a poem. Starting points can take you anywhere! They can lead you to all kinds of poems.

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When I walked along the beach I saw one of the rock faces had become a fog face. I saw the fog racing out to sea down the valley as though it couldn’t wait to get to the water. And as I walked a little fog poem grew in my head. Because we are doing story poems at the moment, my poem became a story poem.

The Lake of Fog

At the end of our garden is the Lake of Fog.

The mother fog lives with the father fog

and their three fog daughters.

They eat fog toast for breakfast with fog butter

and their little foggy cat eats fog sardines.

Today is the second fog daughter’s birthday,

she is wearing a brightly coloured

dress so she can dance in the fog

and not get lost. She will blow

out seven candles and eat vanilla cake.

She will get a skipping rope and

an atlas of the world because

they never know where their lake

of fog will end up next.

My favourite Book Week costume

Last week I visited Hebron Christian College as part of their Book Week. Many of the students and teachers had dressed up for their book parade. My favourite costume was the teacher dressed up as ‘I’m a little tea-pot.’ The librarian was dressed up as the pussy cat who went to sea with the owl. The other adult is Little Miss Muffett. Brilliant costumes!



The Librarian had lots of great ideas for the library. She had a chart where students got to add lines to poetry towers (you can see in the photo how tall they are getting) and she had a poster of the book-spine poems that students had made (these are all the rage at the moment!). It is always very inspiring to visit a school with lots going on in their library!

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