Poetry Box July challenge: Selina Tusitala Marsh’s Mophead as a poem springboard




Mophead, Selina Tusitala Marsh,  Auckland University Press 2020

Shortlisted for the NZ Children’s Book Awards 2020

AUP author page


Selina Tusitala Marsh was New Zealand Poet Laureate from 2017 until 2019 (it is now David Eggleton). She has done extraordinary things and written extraordinary poetry. Her latest book Mophead , a graphic memoir, is her first book for children. She has written and illustrated what it was what like for her as child with big frizzy hair. She used to get teased for being afakasi (‘being Samoan and something else’) and was called ‘mophead.’

I love this book so much – I love the way Selina has described and She chooses to let her hair out. The illustrations are popping with life and zest, and the writing is in the glorious voice of the Selina. I can feel her presence in the writing and the drawings.

Selina is such an extraordinary woman, she has inspired many young people to write and perform poems, to be themselves.

Selina has done many firsts – she performed a poem in front of the Queen at a special occasion in London, she read a poem for USA’s first black president, President Obama, and for His Highness in Samoa. She was the first Pasifika woman to become New Zealand Poet Laureate. She has published a number of poetry collections.

Mophead takes us back to the little girl who had to deal with bullying and the paths that lead to her wonderful achievements. She says poet Sam Hunt was a big influence on the road to becoming a poet.


We all have different childhoods; we have things we love and things we don’t like so much, we have favourite people and favourite places. And I am so hoping we are on the road to being kind, generous, wise, considerate human beings. Some of us have lives full of riches and some of us have lives where we go hungry and don’t have all the things we need. We are good at some things and not good at others.

Being extraordinary can happen in the everyday lives we lead. Only a very few people get to be famous, but we are all special, unique human beings. Small things are just as important as big things.

Think about what is special about you!


The July challenge feels really important to me. I want you to think about who you are.

Here are some ideas to help you brainstorm (if you want) before you write a poem! Use what you want how you want!


What are you like?

What do you love?

What don’t you like?

What do you look like?

What do you like to wear?

Where do you like to go or be?

What do you like to do? Or eat? Or look at?

What is important to you?

What makes you happy?

What makes you sad?

What makes you cross?

What three words sum you up?

What is the most important thing you have learnt?



Write a poem about YOU. Imagine you are a writing a poem to put in bottle to show your grown-up self what it was like for you are as a child.

You can also include drawings or paintings! Or do a poem comic strip.


TOP TIP: Keep the poem for a week before you send it to me – have another listen.

Put it in box or notebook or bottle to read when you are older!


DEADLINE: July 28th

SEND TO: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

INCLUDE: your name, age, year, name of school

DON”T FORGET TO PUT self poem in subject line so I don’t miss your email

I will POST at the end of the month and will have a few books to give away.




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