Visiting St Cuthbert’s – the winning school in Auckland – the library is a hot spot!

This week I spent two days at St Cuthbert’s Junior School (Y0 – 6), the Auckland winner of the Fourth Fabulous Poetry Competition. I did two performances, lots of workshops and a writing workshop with the staff. Everyone was very enthusiastic about poetry (young and old) so it made my visit a real delight.

The library was a hot spot in the school for me. The fabulous school librarian, Crissi Blair, has created a vibrant space where children hang out at lunch time tucked into books. Warm, cosy, inviting. Lots of challenges for children to do. I stationed myself there in the breaks so children could share poems they had written with me and bring me books to sign. Wonderful!

Libraries can be such important places in schools and librarians such important bridges between books and children.

School libraries matter. They enhance the reading and thus writing life of both teacher and child. So congratulations Crissi.


I am going to post some poems as a poem diary of my wonderful two days of poetry with children. My diary will come in three parts!



First up an interactive poetry performance with Y4 to 6. I read poems, we made up poems and started a few poems. Imaginations were reaching, words went flying. I loved it.



Glittering light

rocky craters

surface soft smooth,





the night

black sky.


(we played with the form of my Night Cat poem)



A second performance  with Y0 – 3 and again words were skidaddling and imaginations cartwheeling. I loved this too! This is one of the poems we made up (inspired by my Rain poem).



Rain is like

ice breaking

ckch ckch ckch ckch ckch ckch


Rain is like

little bubbles popping



Rain falls like

a stampede of rhinos



Rain is like

somebody crying



Rain is like

somebody whispering




I love the way children leave the performances humming with poetry especially when they go back to class, roll up their poetry sleeves and get writing. One class had already made pictures of invented animals so, inspired by my ‘Anifable’ poem, made up poems to match. Bravo!






Y 5 and 6 invented spectacular trees. I loved the imaginations at work here.


The Imaginary Tree

Reaching up to endless blue

standing out in a crowd.

It cannot move,

forever still

leaves bunched up

like a curled

oval brush.

Tall and proud

as stiff as bricks,

no-one to challenge,

not even the wind.

Hannah Y6


The Falling Acorn (the first part of the poem)

Brown towering figures

creased vibrant

colours shedding

red, green, orange


hard acorns

lush brown


never stop falling

Charlotte Y5


We also wrote poems about native birds. I loved the way the students searched for detail that made the birds come alive on the page and listened to the music of every line.

The students still have to edit their poems. I am challenging them to look for words they repeat. To listen to the flow of every line. To make sure their endings don’t get too waffly (sometimes you can cut it back to a handful of words and it will be stronger!).

Hannah wrote a terrific short poem and then transformed it into a longer poem. Here is the short version she wrote first. I really love the standout similes she chose. I really love her longer poem too but want her to edit the ending with her ears and eyes.



Its playful, cheet-cheet voice

milk chocolate wings,

a ballerina’s skirt, lit

up with pillars of pure white light.

Hannah Y6


The Blue Duck

Craak, whio, craak,

calls the blue duck,

its chest like rosy apples

and its beady hazelnut eyes.

It floats down the river

waddling, scrapping, diving,

its feathers black as charcoal,

fluttering and glistening,

ready to begin flight.

Clementine Y6


Thank you Year 5 and 6 students, I really loved my time with you. Best wishes for completing your poems.







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