Tag Archives: Bill Manhire

an EYE number plate that is an EYE poem

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Poet Bill Manhire tweeted this very cool photo of his car number plate.

When I was out driving with my girls when they were young, we used to try and turn number plates into poems … actually I still do sometimes when I am on a long drive.

Bill’s number plate is a poem by Aram Saroyran.

Ewen has taken up Bill Manhire’s memory challenge

Ewen from Fendalton Open Air School in Christchurch has taken up Bill Manhire’s idea for a poem. I thought it was a fun idea and the poems could go in all kinds of ways just like our imagination can. Ewen had fun writing this I can tell as her imagination took off. I like the way her poem takes us around the world and she has an ending that is a bit of a puzzle.

Great job Eewn, thanks for sending it to me. I really liked it!

I also love the way Poetry Box readers go back through my blogs hunting out challenges to do. It is never too late to send in poems for these!

 

Hello Paula,

This is the poem I wrote for Bill’s Challenge that you set in April.

It is the challenge that says that you: Write a poem where every line begins with the words “I remember”, but every memory is made-up.

 

True?

I remember sighting a pack of dinosaurs storming on the dry land

I remember feeling a vicious red-bellied piranha bite at my toes

I remember catching a glimpse of  the Loch Ness monster during my visit to Scotland

I remember being blown away by a tornado in Oklahoma City

I remember gazing up to find the Pegasus flying above my head

I remember seeing the untrue become true.

 

Ewen aged 10, Year 6, Fendalton Open Air Primary School

 

This week on NZ Poetry Box and Holiday Challenges

This week we are still playing with list poems. Today, though, I am going tell you about the school holiday challenge. On Tuesday it’s time for poetry play, on Wednesday I will post list poem by Elena de Roo and John Parker, on Thursday I will post my favourite poems from the list-poem challenge (and the winner) and on Friday I will post a poem by a secondary-school student (fingers-crossed!).

NZ Poetry Box is a blog aimed at students up to Year 8 but some secondary students have started following it. So here is your chance. I challenge you to write a list poem (Year 9 to Year 13). Catch up on what Bill Manhire says about list poems (April 11), check out my tips (April 9) and get writing! Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com by Thursday 5pm. Include your name, age, year and name of school.

Next week the school holidays begin and I would love to post at least a poem a day by a child. This is a safe site for young children and a perfect place to play with words during the holidays. I am happy to post your letters and comments. Get Mum or Dad or Gran to help you.

I will give you some mini challenges throughout this week — but as a holiday challenge you could try one of Bill Manhire’s ideas that he posted last Thursday.  Send your poems to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age, year school. Include your teacher’s name and email if you like. Say it is for the holiday challenge.

Here are Bill’s ideas. I want to try them too!

1. Try imagining what it’s like to be something else, and write as if you are that something else. Maybe you could be an elephant that’s sick of being in the circus. Or an iceberg that’s melting. Or an asteroid that’s about to hit the earth. Or maybe you could write a conversation (or a love poem!) between a stalagmite and a stalactite.

2. Write a brand new nursery rhyme, and put your best friend in it.

3. Write a poem where every line begins with the words “I remember”, but every memory is made-up.

During the holidays, I would also love to post ideas from teachers and parents on writing poems. A single idea or two in a paragraph or two.

Bill Manhire talks to Poetry Box about building huts

I don’t think Bill Manhire has ever written a book of poems for children, but he is one of my favourite New Zealand poets. Some poets who only ever really write for adults manage to write poems that readers love no matter how old they are.

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Bill has a knack of writing poems that make music. I love music so when I read a poem that has that musical touch it fills me with a good feeling. Bill’s rhymes are magnificent. Sometimes they are easy (my cat/ fancy that) and sometimes they are tricky (scooter/ euchre or xylophone/knucklebones) and sometimes his rhymes slip and slide all over the lines. However he is not afraid to rhyme at the end of the line either (this can make a poem great, but it can make a poem bad in the wrong hands).

Bill also poured his dreams, hard work and generosity into starting a programme for writers at Victoria University. With the help of a wealthy patron from America his dream turned into The International Institute of Modern Letters where many of our most celebrated writers have studied creative writing. Bill retired at the end of last year so will have lots of time for writing now.

One of the many good things that have come out of this programme is the annual poetry competition and workshops for secondary school students (it has had various names over the years).

Last year Victoria University Press published Bill’s Selected Poems. It contains lots of my favourite poems.

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Bill kindly agreed to answer some questions for Poetry Box:

1. What did you like to write when you were young?

I wrote my first poem when I was 7, and I still know it by heart. I don’t think I’ll quote it, though!  I didn’t write another poem till I was at high school.

At primary school I mostly used to write copies of the books that I really enjoyed reading.  So when I was 10 and 11 I wrote copies of the Tarzan story, and of Biggles. I also wrote a science fiction serial, which involved robbers who travelled through time. The other day I found a home-made book called Tony and the Magic Wishing Glove, which I must have made when I was 5 or 6.  Well, I found the cover ­– all the pages are missing.

2. What else did you like to do in your spare time?

I used to like building huts, but I realise now I would have been a terrible carpenter.  But in some ways putting a poem together is a bit like building a hut. You have to make sure all the bits of timber fit together, and that the hut’s big enough to get into and maybe stay in overnight.

3. Do you have a children’s poetry book you can recommend? Or a favourite children’s poem?

I’m a big fan of the poems of Charles Causley. One of my favourites is “I Saw a Jolly Hunter“, which has a serious point but is full of fun – including fun with words.  And I’ve always loved his “Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience“, which like all the best children’s poems is also for grown-ups. In fact it’s about the fact that we all have to grow up.  It’s written in ballad form. There’s a musical version of it by Natalie Merchant:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=depk09Jqsaw

Charles Causley also put together some great poetry anthologies – one of my favourites is The Puffin Book of Magic Verse.

4. Do you have three top tips for young writers (5 to 12 year olds)?

Well, maybe instead of tips, three writing ideas. You could try them as prose if they don’t work out as poems.

1. Try imagining what it’s like to be something else, and write as if you are that something else. Maybe you could be an elephant that’s sick of being in the circus. Or an iceberg that’s melting. Or an asteroid that’s about to hit the earth. Or maybe you could write a conversation (or a love poem!) between a stalagmite and a stalactite.

2. Write a brand new nursery rhyme, and put your best friend in it.

3. Write a poem where every line begins with the words “I remember”, but every memory is made-up.

5. You are really good at list poems. I love your 1950s poem and love reading it aloud. ‘Hotel Emergencies’ is one of my favourite poems of all time (particularly when I hear you read it). What do you like about writing poems like this?

I think what I especially like about list poems is that you can mix up serious things and silly things, loud things and quiet things, sadness and happiness. You can change tone and direction, but keep coming back to a strong structure which holds everything together.  The “I remember” idea I’ve suggested might be good for producing a wild mixture of things.

Thanks Bill!

Here is the first verse of Bill’s terrific list poem ‘1950s’:

My cricket bat. My football boots.

My fishing rod. My hula hoop.

My cowby chaps. My scooter.

Draughts. Happy families. Euchre.

Ludo. Snap. My Davy Crockett hat.

My bicycle. My bow and arrow.

My puncture kit. My cat.

The straight and narow. Fancy that.

© Bill Manhire from ‘1950s’ in The Victims of Lightning Victoria University Press 2010

This Week on Poetry Box & Making Lists

For the next two weeks we are going to play with list poems on Poetry Box. I have always loved poems that have a list of things in them. I like writing list poems and I like reading list poems. I even wrote a whole book where I played with lists in poems for adults (Making Lists for Frances Hodgkins published by Auckland University Press).

Today I am going to give you a challenge that you will have ten days to work on with a prize for the winner. On Tuesday I will give you some tips for writing list poems, on Wednesday I will give you some list starting points, on Thursday I will tell you about Bill Manhire who has written my favourite list poems of all time (I am not exaggerating!) and he will answer some questions, and on Friday I will post one of my list poems for children.

So yes, I am very excited about the next two weeks because I can’t wait to see what you write.

Your challenge is to write a poem that has a list of things in it. List poems can work in all sorts of ways as you will discover over the next week or so.

Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Don’t forget to include your name, age, year, school and name of teacher and teacher’s email address. DEADLINE 9am Thursday 18th April.

The winner will receive a copy of my book of animal poems, Flamingo Bendalingo (it has a list poem in that I had great fun writing!). A big thanks to Auckland University Press for this prize.  I will also post a bunch of my favourites.