Wardini Books Great Big Poetry Competition 2015
Judge’s Report (Paula Green)
It was great pleasure to get a bundle of fabulous poems, to read my way through them and to read them again. When you read lots of poems side by side, and your task is to pick a winner (always so very hard!), you are looking for the poem that stands out. For me it has to sound good and then it might do any of a thousand things. It might have terrific detail, it might build a shimmering picture in my mind or it might tell a tiny story that hooks. There will be words that pop on the line and images that catch and grow. Some of the very best poems take me by surprise and I just say ‘wow!’
Thank you for the opportunity to share in the poetry bubbling away in your schools and families.
Years 5 to 7
There were lots of wonderful poems about the seasons, lots of poems using senses, and lots of eye-catching words. The winner jumped out at me in this section, but I found it much harder to pick the Highly Recommended poems as it was very close.
Winner: Amelia B, age 6, ‘The Fairytale’
I loved this poem because it surprised me and every line sung in my ear so beautifully. I especially loved ‘soft dandelion sings.’ It sounded gorgeous when I read it aloud and I especially loved the ending. Congratulations Amelia.
Have you heard the fairytale
about the petal fairy wings?
Glitter in the moonlight
soft dandelion sings,
magic and fun
live inside of you.
Highly Recommended: Pete A age 5, ‘My Dog Jess’
This poem made such a fabulous picture of a dog I could almost touch it. I love the way the poem explores being warm and dressed up (both Pete and the dog, genius!)
Highly Recommended: Abbie C, age 7, Abbie made such a fascinating, topsy-turvy pattern for a poem it made me want to try one myself. I love this line: ‘The clouds take over the sky and the sky takes over the clouds.’
Highly Recommended: T’Qyn, age 7, ‘The snowy winter’
Lots of poems used this model but this one stood out for because it sounded so good when I read it out loud. Each line had a gorgeous rhythm. I especially loved the third line, ‘I can touch the freezing snow with my gloved hand.’ I love the word ‘gloved’ in there.
Years 8 to 10
There were lots of colour poems, lots of frosty poems and poems describing things. In this group two young poets stood out for me, Yasmine and Sophie. Their poems were sparklingly original. They managed to capture a place (as though the poem was a shiny photograph) by using great detail, exquisite sounding lines and electric words. Each poem built a gorgeous image in my head that stuck.
Winner: Yasmine Tiedemann, age 8, ‘Sea’
I adored the music of each line in this poem and the way each line added to the sea picture, with simplicity and playfulness. The poem showed me the sea in a new light because the poet hunted for fresh detail that would surprise me. For example ‘Washing waves and swirling seaweed.’ The word ‘washing’ lifts the line up several notches. Congratulations Yasmine.
Washing waves and swirling seaweed
Little fish busy for escape
Turtles king of the reefs
Astonishing lion fish
Pumping with poison
Little blues quacking their tunes
Starfish clinging to rocks like glue.
Extremely Highly Recommended Sophie Tiedemann, age 10, ‘Piwakawaka’
I loved all Sophie’s poems but this one stood out because it is so original and has such a fine rhythm and choice of words. I also loved the feeling that the choice of words built. You have to read the whole poem to see how it works together so beautifully. Wonderful!
I will carve you a fantail
flitting and free
from the precious dark wood
of a Kauri tree.
He will flitter and flutter
from his perch in the Kauri tree.
Highly Recommended Oskar Norman ‘Blue’
There were lots of colour poems following this pattern but this one stood out for because the rhythm of the lines is spectacular. Oskar has a great ear. “Blue is the feeling of cold a shivering.’
Highly Recommended Hunter Brownrigg, age 8, ‘What is frost?’
My pick from all the wintry poems because it had standout similies (‘The frost is a ghost haunting the grass) and words that sounded so good together (frost/sloth). I loved the different sounding lines too as it added to the music of the poem.
Year 11 to 13
In this bunch there was a clear winner, but it was much harder to choose the Highly Recommended poems as they were so close. War was a common theme, along with poems that explored different feelings.
Winner Jack Winiana, age 12, ‘Storm’
I adore this poem and it felt like the poet has a real feel for the way words make magic on the page and in the ear. When you listen to it read aloud you hear the words that surprise and pop. Words make lightning connections with other words and fizz and spark in your ear (carve, dark, canvas, night, smoke, moon, punctures, pummels, rolls forward). It is also a feast for the eye as the image of the storm builds so beautifully. Congratulations Jack.
Flashes of lightning carve
glowing patterns into the dark
canvas of the night sky.
Dark clouds rise like smoke to
consume the light of the stars
And as rain punctuates the clouds
and pummels the ground, the storm
rolls forward across the land.
Highly Recommended Josh Tomlinson, age 12, ‘A Deafening Silence’
This poem stood out for me in the group of war-poem entries because it has created a small but perfect moment that moves you. Words make striking chords for the ear (death/left; freezes/screeching). It doesn’t overstate feeling but the feeling is so powerful in that gap between silence and sound. Remarkable.
Highly Recommended Amber-Rose, age 13, ‘On My Birthday’
This poem deals with a strong feeling of exclusion and isolation but it does it in a way that is playful and poetic. The poem sounds good, the line are tight and the similes fresh and inventive. It is very easy for a poem about a feeling to drown in that feeling. This poem shows how strong detail gives clues to a feeling without overstating it. Great rhythm too!