Monthly Archives: April 2022

Poetry Box noticeboard: Elsie Locke Writing Prize at Toitoi

Elsie reading to students at South Brighton School
Kia ora tatou e hoa mā,

We are thrilled to announce that the Elsie Locke Writing Prize is coming to Toitoi in Term 2, 2022! The prize commemorates Elsie Locke’s life and career as a writer, historian and activist.
The Writing Prize is offered by the Elsie Locke Memorial Trust. It provides a wonderful opportunity for young writers ages 5-13 to develop an original piece of writing for publication inspired by New Zealand history and Elsie’s work for peace, the environment, women’s issues, and our community.
Submissions can be any writing on a topic – past, present or future – that you think would have been of interest to Elsie. For example: personal narratives, poems, articles, essays, speeches or plays. The winner will receive $250 and their story will be published in Toitoi 29. They will also receive a copy of Toitoi’s latest hardback publication – Jillion 2.

Email your writing to by July 8, 2022 and include your name, age, school and a parent or teacher’s name and contact details. Check out the submissions guidelines here, then take the leap! We can’t wait to hear from yo
The Elsie Locke Writing Prize

Deadline: July 8, 2022
Publication: Term 4, 2022Make a submission
About Elsie Locke
Elsie Locke was a writer, broadcaster, social historian, environmentalist, and an activist for peace and civil rights. She campaigned for women’s rights, nuclear disarmament, social justice, and the environment. Learn more about Elsie’s life here.
Elsie was also a writer. She wrote stories and books about New Zealand and its history for children and for adults, and enjoyed writing by young people as much as writing for them. Elsie was a contributor to the School Journal for more than 40 years.
Learn more about Elsie’s life here.

Elsie learned to speak te reo Maori as an adult and used her analytical skills to support iwi to research the history of their land. She was also a keen tramper and swimmer, and brought up four children. See some photos from Elsie’s life here.

Poetry Box review: Philippa Werry’s The Other Sister

The Other Sister, Philippa Werry, Pipi Press, 2021

Philippa Werry is one of my favourite New Zealand children’s authors. She is a fan of history and many of her novels take you back into the past. You get to experience historical events, characters and places that are so vividly detailed you feel you are there too. It is as though you are hiding behind the curtains witnessing a scene. It’s important, this rich research-dependent detail, but I am even more drawn to the way the past is reviewed in new lights. A trip to the past can reconsider how girls are shaped, how people of colour are treated, how damaging ideas are circulated. How individuals can make a difference.

Philippa’s most recent novel, The Other Sister, is set in 1920 after the end of World War One. It is sumptuous in detail and and resonates with refreshing lights. Tilly Thomas is about to go to secondary school. It is the beginning of a new decade and she wants to do ‘something remarkable’. But she has no idea who she is and how she wants to be in the world. Expectations for girls in 1920 were not what they are in 2022. Back then, marriage and babies was their chief destination.

I wished there was a map to follow, or a path, like the way I walked to school. I wished I knew that when I got to this intersection, this would happen, and when I crossed that road, I’d be up to that stage. The future’s so invisible. The Principal told us there were all these new opportunities waiting for us, but how would we know where to find them?

In her endnote, Philippa says the female characters are some of her favourite heroines. And I can see why. I love these young girls stretching into knowledge and new experiences, finding empathy. Tilly, of course, but also her sister Beaty, her best friend Olivia who lives in an orphanage, Ingrid, Molly, to name a few.

Even though the war had ended, the world was not the same. The sharp grim edges of war were brought home by soldiers – there were the wounded and there were the dead. The war was carried back on scarred bodies, in the troubled hearts and minds of the young men, and this heavy luggage affected friends and families. At the weekends, Tilly works in a nursing home with wounded men. At first she finds it tough. But she draws closer and closer to the residents and their stories, and it opens life wider. Education, as her school principal indicates, occurs in all kinds of ways. It is book learning, but it is so much more.

As I hide and observe from the nooks and crannies of the novel ( I am so embedded in it!), I take such comfort in seeing a young girl grow in strength and wisdom. To see her question racism and sexism. She is friendly with Jim Lee, a Chinese delivery boy, and despises the way others treat him. She becomes best friends with Ingrid, a German girl, and despises the way she is treated.

I love this intricately crafted, exquisitely written, entertaining book, that brims with warmth, humanity, insight. With life! I love how Tilly looks up to her older sister (she was the town’s first telegram girl in wartime), and is then able to find her own directions, her own self belief. In 2022 we live in a precarious time. Back then, there was the flu pandemic, and now we have Covid. We still witness and experience unspeakable racism, sexism, genderism, global hunger, a threat of war, actual wars. I am thinking too of the online misogyny directed at our Prime Minster (and other women MPs) because she is a woman. These things overwhelm and feel unspeakable, yet we must speak them.

We must speak the past in new lights in order to speak and address the present. Philippa’s sublime and enriching novel does exactly this. It is a book of now as much it is a book of then. I love it so much.

Philippa Werry website

Philip Werry lives in Wellington with her family. She was born in Auckland, went to school in Wellington, Auckland and New Plymouth. She wrote poems and stories from the age of six, some of which were published in The Evening Post. She studied Greek and English at university, travelled, trained to be a librarian, got married, travelled some more. Her writing has been published in the School Journal and her novels include The Telegram, Enemy at the Gate, The Lighthouse Family and Harbour Bridge. She has also written the nonfiction book: Anzac Day: The New Zealand Story.

Poetry Box April challenge: Cloud poems

For centuries poets have written cloud poems. I will never grow tired of the way clouds drift in and out of poetry. They can be the star of a poem or a passing shadow. They can add mood. They can add to a scene. They can add mystery. They can add beauty.

From my kitchen table, I have an excellent view of clouds bustling to and fro, from the Tasman Sea to the Waitākere Ranges. Sometimes they sit and sleep like tiny cloud islands above our bush. They surprise me and delight me. I watch them every day!

For April, I challenge you to write a cloud poem. Clouds (or a cloud) might be the star of your poem, or clouds (or a cloud) might have a bit part. Over to you!

I will read all the poems at the end of the month and choose a few favourites to post. It is not a competition but I will give a few books away as I love giving books away.

Tips and starting points

Draw a cloud then fill it with as many cloud words as you can. Think colour, texture, movement, shape, size. What do they remind you of? Use some of your words to kickstart a poem. Or any of the ideas below.

Find some cloud facts and use one to launch a poem.

Tell a cloud story in the form of a poem.

Write a poem as though you are the cloud. From its point of view!

Make a concrete cloud poem (or shape or picture poem). Use some poem lines or cloud words to make the shape of a cloud (or clouds).

Make a pattern poem with your cloud words. Listen to the sound your pattern makes. Does it make your ear HAPPY?

Make a cloud pattern poem that pleases your EYE!

Let your imagination go running with clouds! Who knows what will happen in your poem. It will be a poem discovery.

Go outside and describe the clouds you see in a poem.

Base your poem on a cloud experience.

Make a cloud list poem.

Add another character to your cloud poem. What or who will it be?

Go hunting for cloud similes. Which ones put a smile on your face?

Say your poem out loud and see if there is anything you want to change.

Try not to send the poem the day you write it. Read it the next day or even the next week and see which bits you might want to tweak.

Deadline: 26th April

Send to:

Don’t forget to include: name, age, year, name of school

Put CLOUD POEM in subject line so I don’t miss it.

I will read at end of April and post a few favourites.


fun writing cloud poems