Category Archives: Poetry

Poetry Box April Blog: Poetry is Sound

What a wonderfully busy month March was. I made a start on my big new book by spending a few days in a research library in Wellington. It was so amazing holding the letters of a poet who was born over a hundred years ago. It reminded me of how much I love exploring and finding out things.

Today I am off to Napier to help celebrate our new NZ Poet Laureate – CK Stead. I will be staying on a marae for two nights so I am very excited. I get to go out for pizza one night before reading my poems with the other poets.

And I will be getting my new collection of poems for adults ready. It comes out late May I think. It is called New York Pocket Book.


This month I thought you could explore ways to make a poem sound good. I love reading my poems out loud and I always want them to sound good.

I think writing a poem is a bit like making music.

This month you can send me a poem that sounds good when you read it out loud. This doesn’t mean it is a poem about sound. It means you listen to every line as you write.


My sound tips:

Play with how many words on a line. That changes the sound of your poem.

Play with long words and short words.

Hide rhyme in your poem.

Use words that almost rhyme.

Use words that sound delicious in pairs or triplets.

Put the words in surprising orders.

Listen to the rhythm of your lines. How can you change it?

Will you have verses?

Make sound patterns of words in a poem.


SEND your poem to

DEADLINE April 27th

Include your name, age, year and name of school. You can include your teacher’s email if you like.

PUT sound poem in the subject line of your email.

I will pick some favourites to post on the blog and have a book for at least one reader.

I will post on April 29th.


Happy poem days

from Paula x

Toitoi is a terrific new journal for young writers and artists – they publish poems!

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The very lovely Alice at Port Chalmers showed me this journal. Some of her students have work in it.

Then the editor sent me a copy! It is really really good. You can send in sample  drawings to see if you can illustrate poems or stories by other children. You can send in poems and stories.

I was so delighted to see Monica from (I know her from Christchurch) had done the cover drawing.

This is where you can go to check out submission details.


This seems like a great thing to work on over the summer. I think the poems in the first issue are wonderful. Congratulations!



Toitoi 2 is already in the pipeline but

Submissions close for Toitoi on Friday, February 19, 2016​.



My favourite mood poems from this term-long challenge


What a great idea to give you a challenge to play with over a number of weeks. Mood poems are a challenge. I gave you lots of tips to give your poems strength.


I really loved the poems that used strong detail.

I loved the poets who had used their ears to check their lines.

I loved the poems that hid the mood for the reader to guess.

I loved the poems that played with words.

I loved the poems that told a little story.

I loved the poems that had a surprise somewhere.

I loved the poems that built a strong image and that image built a mood.


Here are some of my favourite poems. I loved reading them all. Some needed a bit more editing with your ears and eyes. I did challenge you to write a suite of poems (or a class set) so I have mostly picked children who did.

This is not a competition but a challenge but I do like to spread books around. So I have a copy of The Letterbox Cat for Daisy (if you have it will find something else) and a book voucher for William.


Thank you so much for trying my challenging, especially the classes. I have picked one class to highlight in my next post but wow! You are all represented here as you all blew my pink socks off!


Quake Drill
Under desks,
Holding on,
Quake drill,
A deep gravely voice rang from the speaker,
Tummy summer salting,
Shaking like a steam train,
Quake drill done.

Jenna l  Year 5, 9 years old Vardon School


Salty as the Sea

My tears

make salty streams

entering the house.

I run to my bedroom

and shut the door

as silent as a mouse.

My tears stream

down the stairs

and my mother

rings the bell.

Time for tea

my tears

salty as the sea.


Hot as the Fire

My face grew hot as the fire,

My brother said it’s like a train,

He’s such an annoying liar.

When I get to school

I suffered the boys in my class.

Two poems by Daisy A Room 6 Ilam School.



Stay Awake

I make people lie down

And relax like a dog

Or like a cloud.

I make them

Want to stay up

Till later

You can’t stop this mood.


I’m Red

When children get laughed at

This mood can strike.

Donkeys get this mood

And the mood makes them

Kick you hard.

This mood can make faces red

With a scared look on others.


Umm …

This mood makes children scared

That they will say something silly.

So they just don’t say anything

And if their parent is there

They will just hide behind them

And hold them.

Three poems by William Sherborne  Age: 7 years St Andrews School


The Rainbow of My Moods 


Volcanoes in my stomach

Erupting in loud shouts

Fiery feelings fall from my head

Until the magma cools down



My words are mean

My mouth leaks with rudeness

I snap like a crocodile

Until things go my way



Bouncing with joy

I light up

I think before I say

I feel like doing what the family wants to do



Like an extra

Not needed


Wondering why I am here



Lacking energy

Disinclined to exert effort



Low spirits

No enthusiasm



My eyes turn everything into food

A book is a sandwich

A bouncy ball is an apple

A plate is a cookie

But my tummy still rumbles



I am the flat ocean

I am a tree with no breeze

I am peaceful music

And … asleep


Did you guess the moods?

Red = angry

Orange = snarky

Yellow = happy

Green = redundant

Blue = listless

Indigo = hungry

Violet = calm

Daniel Lovewell Age 6, Year 2, Adventure School, Porirua
Teacher Mrs Pepperell


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Gemma Lovewell Age 9 Year 5, Adventure School, Porirua
Teacher Mr Mac:



Oh, Yippee!

Best day, ever!

Nothing could be better!

Let everyone know my feelings!

Oops sorry Mum, too loud!

Adrenaline rushing through my veins!

I love this feeling!

Who doesn’t?

Let’s go to the playground!

Oh, ok,

I’m still ecstatic!

Yea, cheerful,

Yes, I’ll set the table!

I’ll do whatever you say,

Jessica A age 10 Gladstone Primary School Auckland


My Mood
My mood is a dog,
My mood is cat,
My mood is the bright sun shining.
My mood is a rainbow glimmering in the sky.

Ruby T, age 7, Year 3, Ilam School


Nothing here for me



Clouds blocking the sun.

Blue, black, white.

As alone as

the moon.



Elizabeth v W Age: 10 St Cuthbert’s College


Red Hot

Hot red cheeks

As hot as a fire

Awkwardly walking down halls


Charlotte W Age 10  St Cuthbert’s College



Raised Voice


covers my face,

growling like a bear.

explodes my brain, bang,

yelling, crying,

raised voice.


Lizzie H   Age 9 St Cuthbert’s College




everywhere anywhere.

Palms slippery,

my spine

like jelly wobbling,

internally alone

tip toeing, slowly, carefully,



for forever,


Lizzie H Age 9 St Cuthbert’s College



Fizzing Body

Yellow, jumping around,

Vibrating sweating sports playing.

Leopard fast as me,

Electricity runs through my veins.


Felicity Qin Age 9 St Cuthbert’s College


Uh Oh

Holding out the lollipop

Signs in

Cars zooming

Felling like it’s my first day of school.


Isabella C Age 9 St Cuthberts College



Shadows seem to follow,

in the dark of night.

Running away,

Nobody understands.

Defeated like deflated balloons.

Grey, black, white.


Elizabeth v W Age: 10 St Cuthbert’s College


When I’m singing

Rows and rows and children sitting on the exceptional stage
My heart was beating
I felt my adrenaline pumping
The stage felt like I was in a boiling hot oven
I could hear beautiful singing
There was a HUGE crowd in front of me
My family was very supportive
The funky monkeys in the spotlight
I could feel my legs shaking
I had a HUGE grin on my face

Name: Poppy P Year level: 5 Age: 9 School: Vardon School



Jumping around like a bunch of rabbits,
can’t help smiling,
wearing my special, white dress, above the knee with a white rose,
strap wraps around my body.

My friends arriving
Lots of laughing
Talking to each other
Chomping party food
Cake brought out
I hear my friends singing Happy birthday
eating cake
smoke coming from candles like smoke from a chimney.

Nisha 7 years old Vardon School
My teacher’s email is



Greasy butter polishing the popcorn,

large cup filled with lemonade,

this place is amazing

with all the action packed picture,

the seats are as a million pillows,

snacking on sweet and sour lollies,

they make my eyes squint,

this place is the best place on

a rainy day.


Dry, flavorous popcorn,

flat lemonade with too much ice,

what I’m watching is terrible,

the picture is rubbish,


my seat is so uncomfortable

someone’s kicking the back of my chair,

pulling chewing gum off my “NIKES”,

people chattering away I’m going to leave this place

I’m full of so much anger.


Screams Everywhere, I’m hiding under my jumper,

feels like they’re popping right at me

it’s like they are going

to pop right behind me,

I’ve spilt my drink and

popcorn everywhere,

I can’t stand this anymore.

Zachary Dew Year 8 Age: 13 Northcross intermediate    

The Best Time Of The Year

Frost creeping up the window making star like crystals

The smell of pine and the wind making a soothing whistle

I dive into fluffy white powder that feels soft like cashmere

I look up at the sky the snow crystallizing like a chandelier

Drinking hot cocoa in my comfy jacket

The snow covering the city like a huge white blanket

My nose and cheeks are rosy

Watching Christmas classics nice and cosy

Making yummy gingerbread houses covered with sweets

The holidays make everyone so upbeat

Presents under the tree

Make the kids squeal with glee

Ngaire L Year 8  Northcross Intermediate Sabine Brooke


Cowering In The Corner At Night

Cowering in the corner at night,

Shadows dance against the walls,

Where is it?

I know It’s here.


It’s up on the bunk bed,

It’s here, I can hear it,

I lean into the wall,

I can sense it.


It’s coming to get me!

From under the Bed!

Close my eyes, here it comes,

Cowering in the corner at night.

Willem C Age 10 Gladstone Primary School


Ants in my Pants
In the moment,
I think into the past
the present
and the future,
jumping on the tips
of my toes.

I find a smile
appear on my face,
a smile
nothing can wipe,
I try to stop it
but it only widens.

My heart flops
on its face,
my breath quickens,
a fist pump,
a jump,
ants in my pants!

During the weekend I traveled to West Auckland (Henderson) for the Future Problem Solving nationals.

I had a great time topped of with a win which means qualification to the worlds in Michigan next year. I wrote this mood poem about how I felt….

By Ewen W aged 13, Year 8, Cobham Intermediate School, Christchurch



 Nearly Bedtime!

Eyes drooping,

Floppy thinking,

Angry people,

Minds swirling,

Drowsy kids,


Nearly Bedtime!


Headaches coming,

Exasperated stomping,

Drained of any thought,

Sleepy children,

Drowsy ideas,




Nearly Bedtime!

Ella E Age 10 Y5 Gladstone Primary School Auckland



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Jasper St Peters School Cambridge


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Rory St Peters School Cambridge



A Blue Feeling
I stared out the window looking
At the dark and miserable clouds
At the same time, I glared
At the rain falling onto the
Ground with the others coming with them.
They reminded me of the time
When my great grandfather died of old age.

The Pink Flowers

The pink flowers
On the field,
Danced together with the wind
Elegantly and gently,
As though it was conducting a show.
And as the endless show lasted continuously,
Something flashed in my heart.
I remembered the time
When my sister was born 2 years ago.

The Green Swivelling Leaves
As I lay down in the shade,
Peacefully and quietly,
I closed my eyes
And thought of all the times
When it was like now.
I thought for a little while
Until I thought of something.
I remembered the time,
When I was at the beach,
Hearing the waves colliding into the sea shore.

By Akiko O 9 years old  St Andrew’s College



It strikes over me like lightening
It’s always happiness, it’s never anger
Its love to feel it, its hatred to not
The world depends on it
If it is gone the world is tumbled

Lily E, 8yrs, St Andrews Preparatory
A shadow
looms over me
like rain clouds
over a city.

My hands tremble
like lips in
a stutter.

My eyes search
for an exit,
ice in
a desert.

My heart beat rides
a tsunami wave,
rising as it nears,
the land.

My head is positioned
straight like a china doll
awaiting what it is
above me.

By Ewen W aged 13, Year 8, Cobham Intermediate School, Christchurch

Mood poem (1)
Grey, black, very stormy.
Pink, yellow, lots of fun.
Purple, blue, with their stories filled with sadness.

Mood poem (2)
Blue, sad, stories that are never ending.
Yellow, happy, a number of fairy tales.
Pink, glowing, watch it all light up,
green, fun, play all day,
purple, calm, see it fade…

Name: Frances Age: 8  School:Fendalton Open Air School

On the floor, the floor so cold

Lies the bones, the bones so old

The moss creeps through the sewer grate

The rats pour out and seal your fate

The putrid smell burns your nose

Through a crack a thorn bush grows

Behind the door of solid iron

They will never hear your crying

The lock is tough, you’ll never crack it

It can be heard, the shout of static

The shackles are cold on your wrists

You struggle free with a twist

Through the bars you see a ray of light

Then down goes the sun and outcomes the night

The drip in the corner is making you insane

Then you hear clank of a chain

You suddenly feel the worst of pains

Then your skull cracks open and outcome your brains

The grey stone floor is now drenched in blood

Your lifeless body drops with a thud

The floor now has a new set of bones

Lying on the old, cold stones


Ben H Year 7 11 Years old St Peters Cambridge<>


I. Eruption

It is so frustrating
I want to punch the wall
And stomp in heavy boots
All the way down the hall

II. Complete

Sometimes I want to do this
And I just don’t know why
I just want to jump up
Very very high!

III. Frozen

I run
I hide
I panic
I just can’t

IV. Drooping

A tear
I know
It is not
to be a
good day

Finn Pearce, Year 4, Age 8, Ilam School, Kerrin Davidson Creative Writing Teacher





My 1000th post on Poetry Box needs a wee celebration – a piece of cake for me and something for you



Woohooo!  This is my 1000th post on NZ Poetry Box.

This needs a wee celebration so I am about to have tea and cake.

To celebrate I will have a challenge:


Write a poem on any subject you like, however you like.

I will be choosing a few poems that stand out.


Will your poem sound good when I read it out loud?

Will your poem surprise me somewhere (it doesn’t have to)?

Will you use words that stand out?

How will your poem catch my eye or ear?

Think about about all the things you have explored on Poetry Box.



DEADLINE for your 1000th-Poem Challenge: Friday 27th November

Send to Include your name, year, age and name of school. You can include your teacher’s name and email.     This is a different email address to my usual one that is going wonky

PLEASE say it’s for the 1000th-Poem challenge. Put in the subject line of the email please.

I will post my favourites and have a bundle of books for at least one poet (Year 0 to Year 8).


St Cuthbert’s Y2 students go to the moon (Wow!) and a writing group write up a storm of cats

I find the imagination of Y2 students so refreshing. I felt inspired by the moon poems — by the little bits that glinted for my eye and my ear. I really loved my one session with you. Thank you for diving into the moon and coming up with glorious poems.


Shiny Moon

Shiny moon silvery moon

my moon sparkly moon

peaceful moon white moon

my moon helps me

go to sleep.

Isabella Y2


The Moon

White gray black moon

we see it

in the night

it looks like

a man

it’s sparkly

and bright

it’s a bedside

lamp when I


but all of us

know we’re

not allowed

to explore it.

Maddie Y2



The moon is

very rocky

white yellow

and blue.

Sometimes at

night I stay

up to look

at the moon.

It looks very far

away. And also very

sparkly. Sometimes

I imagine it’s

a potato and

I imagine I’m

eating it. It

reflects down

on the water

and looks just

like a mirror

and sometimes

it comes

out at day.

It sparkles. It twinkles.

Chloe Y2



The Moon

The moon is

like a fluffy


white red and


light shines the


That is my favourite


because it reminds

me of my aunt.

Sienna Y2


The Moon

The moon is sparkly

and bright, it is

like a fluffy pillow

in the sky,


Sofia F Y2


The Moon

White blue and red

sparkles glows and twinkles

blank sky when the moon

lights the way

the lovely bright moon

Sophie Y2



I also did a small workshop with a collection of students who love writing from a range of ages. We did cat poems. I love the way the students went off in direction cat directions. Thanks for all your creative energy!


My Cat Poem

Green grass that my

cat likes to run



He is white and grey like

a cloud,

slurping water

really loudly,

fluffy but fat

running like the


stretching like

a rubber band,


sitting as

still as a



I love my cat.

Lilyana Y6


The Cat

My gray, white and

brown cat likes to

lie flat and have

a little naughty time

and tease the dog. My cat

loves the black hat,

he sleeps

in there, eats in there and

then never ever comes

out …

Isabelle  Y4


Fat Cat

The cat is woken

anger through the brain,

stretches, arches


liver-food smell covers

the ramshackle house,

the lazy cat prowls

to a tree,

sneaks to the kitchen

looking for food,


back to the couch

to sleep

until …

Anna Y6


The Cat

It prowls

It arches

on the couch

lazy as can be,

climbs up a tree,


Anna H Y6




St Cuthbert’s students invent birds and sing the praises of favourite places

What a wonderful time I had with the Y3 and 4 students. Here are a few examples of the writing we did. Thank you. I really loved our sessions together. You were so focused!


My Home

The hot summer sun

shining bright

my puppy howling with fur

shimmering in the sun.

My cat snoring all day long.

I feel at home.

Eva Y3


The Other Side of the Cliff

Water hits my shoes

The breeze rushes by my face

I see my house up on the cliff

Big logs are on the ledge

Tumbled bits of dirt and stone

Small pink stones in the tide pools

Moss on the smooth wet rocks

It looks very old to me.

I see birds squawking and flapping

Or perched on mossy stones

Further in the ocean,

I see stranded rocks

A few meters away from me.

The cliff is very interesting.

Victoria Y3


My Bird

My bird is a bird of lava and fire

its body is a bright rainbow colour

its beak glows and is bright orange

its tail is very very white.

My bird grows claws that are dark grey.

It looks as beautiful as a peacock and as

dangerous as a rattle snake.

its petrifying call goes ‘crackle


Gliding high up in the burning red

no-one can find my bird except me.

This bird is magic and I

love it forever.

‘Crackle crackle.’

Sophia Y3


MY AJF Ocean Bird

My bird has a beak

curved like a snail’s shell.

Pop! Crack! goes my bird

like a crumbling building.


His big black wings

circle the ocean.

Red! Pink! Purple!

flash like fireworks,

very few live in trees

as they swish around.

These birds are not flightless

as they love to adventure.


The two breeds are the AJF,

one has a sweet fragrance

of flowers and honey,

the other is the fish

ocean bird.

Francesca Y4


My Bird

It’s like a bird cross cat but has a quarter

pound of dog, a pinch of horse and

rainbow. It’s black with shining blue.

If you take a photo, it chases after

you. It has a horse’s tail. It vomits

rainbows and sits on them. A nose

like a dog. It acts like a showoff

by flapping, floating, soaring

striking and lives on candyfloss

clouds and you might not believe

it but it’s very true. When it’s up in

clouds, it watches over you!

Eva Y3
















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.