Tag Archives: Bill Nagelkerke

Poetry Box review: Bill Nagelkerke’s The Ghosts on the Hill

Try my October poem challenge

The Ghosts on the Hill, Bill Nagelkerke, The Cuba Press, 2020

Bill Nagelkerke writes terrific poetry for children so it is not surprising his junior novel sings in the ear. I love the novel for its attention to detail.

The story takes place in Lyttelton in 1884, and the story imagines what might have happened to two young boys who went missing on the Bridle Path in a storm. Bill has used newspaper archives to research the real-life event, but nobody ever found out exactly what happened. Their bodies were found but not the full story. So Bill gets imagining.

Elsie likes fishing and being outdoors. She does not like going to school. She feels bad, a deep sadness, at the tragedy. She yearns to know what happened. Mrs James was the last person to see the boys alive and is also plagued with sadness and regret. Mr James often fishes alongside Elsie on the pier, and has many a gold nugget of wisdom to share. She misses her dad who lives elsewhere. Especially his stories.

I muse on how different things were for children then. Choosing not to go to school. Heading off alone to cross the Bridal Path. Roaming in the neighbourhood. A ‘wild childhood’ as a terrific exhibition at Auckland Museum once said. I’m also musing on how tough it was for women who raised children on their own, doing domestic chores without modern day appliances and gadgets, working fingers to the bone. No time for themselves. As poor as can be. Different freedoms and different restrictions for both adults and children. I love how Bill’s book sparks trains of musings.

But the book explores a mystery. The scene is set. Elsie sets off across the Bridle Path to deliver hand-me-down baby clothes to her newly born cousin but, more importantly, to follow in the boys’ footsteps. She wants to get closer to what may have happened. However, just as it was for the boys, the weather is about to turn to storm.

Here is where I step back and leave the unfolding story behind a screen so you can unfold it yourself. Bill has written a layered and captivating novel that gets you thinking about regret, personal safety, how times change on the one hand and stay the same on the other. Elsie is complex and compelling character. I especially loved her conversations with Mr James.

I gobbled The Ghosts on the Hill up in a flash. And yes the title is a clue!

A former children’s librarian, Bill Nagelkerke has written short stories, poems, plays and books for all ages, as well as translating other people’s books from Dutch into English. His novel Old Bones (2006) was a Storylines Notable Book and Sitting on the Fence (2007) was a finalist in the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. In 2013 he was awarded the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal for a distinguished contribution to New Zealand children’s literature and literacy.

The Cuba Press page

Poetry Box NATIONAL POETRY DAY celebration: 8 NZ children’s authors read a poem for you – plus poetry challenges – plus book giveaways – IDEAS for SCHOOLS and for LOCKDOWN TIME

National Poetry Day is on Friday August 27th. To celebrate I invited 8 of my favourite children’s authors to read a poem they love. I have put some poetry challenges under each reading for you to try. I am fairly sure National Poetry Day events will be reinvented online so I am sharing this poetry festival now.

Perfect for National Poetry Day but even more perfect for lockdown. Writing and reading poems is my happy place! Have a go!

I am currently in a state of drift and daze so do let me know if I have made mistakes – I am always grateful not offended.

🌻 A big bouquet of warm thanks and salty west-coast air and mānuka scent and blue skies to the eight authors who did such glorious mahi out of poetry love and the poets who gave permission. Thank you!

Listen to the authors read a poem

Try some of my poem challenges

Deadline: 10th September

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

Include: name, age, year, name of school or homeschooled

Don’t forget to put National Poetry Day Poem in subject line so I don’t miss it

I will post some favourite poems on 17th September. I will have loads of books to give away! I will read all the poems and email you back by this date.

IF YOU MAKE a video – I need parental permission to post it if I pick it.

TOP TIP: Leave your poem for a day and then read it out loud. Listen again before you send it to me.

Happy National Poetry Day!

Keep safe, be kind, share the joy in poetry.

The Poets reading Poems

Vasanti Unka

Vasanti Unka reads ‘When the Lid Slides back’ by Bill Manhire

Poem challenges

Choose a favourite object and write a poem about it.

Pick five favourite words in Bill’s poem and use them in a poem of your own.

Bill loved using his coloured pencils. What do you love doing? Write a poem, long or short, about a favourite thing to do. You might start with an object or you might collect verbs to get you started.

You could turn any of these ideas into a picture/shape/concrete poem. You could make an audio or video of yourself reading your poem or even making your poem!! (need parental permission to send me)

Poem source: Bill Manhire is one of my favourite NZ poets and I especially love this poem. I picked it for A Treasury of NZ Poetry for Children (Penguin Random House). It is in Bill’s collection The Victims of Lightning (Victoria University Press).

Vasanti Unka is a picture book creator who writes, illustrates and designs books for ages, 4 – 108 year olds. Over the years, her work has won a range of awards. Her latest book, I Am the Universe won the Booksellers best kids book for 2021. She was born in Pukekohe and presently works out of her sunroom in Auckland. Vasanti’s blogspot. Penguin author page

Bill Manhire’s most recent poetry book Wow (VUP) was longlisted for the NZ Book Awards 2020. He was New Zealand’s inaugural poet laureate, and founded and for many years taught at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington. Many New Zealand poets have been through this highly acclaimed writing propgramme. In 2005 he was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit and in in the same year was named an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate. He has edited major poetry anthologies. You can listen to some of his poems here.

Gareth Ward

Gareth Ward reads ‘The Door’ by Daniel Stokes (written aged 10)

Poetry Challenges

Choose a portal, maybe a door or window, and build a poem around it. Your poem might be IMAGINARY or REALISTIC.

You could do a list poem. A window is … OR A door is … OR A gate is …

Or you could write a poem that uses a portal to tell a story. Think of the scene, the mood, fascinating things that might be on the other side.

Poem source: Toitoi 21. This is a wonderful journal of writing and artwork by children. You can find details about it here.

Gareth Ward, a.k.a. The Great Wardini, is a magician, hypnotist, storyteller, bookseller and author. He has worked as a Royal Marine Commando, Police Officer, Evil Magician and Zombie. He basically likes jobs where you get to wear really cool hats. He currently resides in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand where he runs two independent bookshops, Wardini Books and Wardini Books Napier with his wife Louise. He has a goldfish called Luna, a dog called Tonks and is certain his letter from Hogwarts has been lost in the post.

His first novel, The Traitor and the Thief, a rip-roaring young adult Steampunk adventure, won the 2016 Storylines Tessa Duder Award, the 2018 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Youth Novel, a 2018 Storylines Notable Book Award and was a finalist in two categories at The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. His second novel, The Clockill and the Thief was released in August 2019 and won a Sir Julius Vogel award for best youth novel. Brasswitch and Bot is Gareth’s third novel and the first in the Rise of the Remarkables series. It is set in the city of York, where Gareth went to University.

My name is Daniel, I was born in Hamilton and still live here. I am 11 years old, turning 12 in December. I live with my sister (Abby), my mum (Kate) and my dad (David). My many hobbies include Irish dancing, reading, and trumpet, which have all become very important to me. I am working towards Grade 5 for practical trumpet and music theory.  I have also developed an interest in waterpolo earlier this year. I am very passionate about that and look forward to the next season. 


The first writing I enjoyed was poetry, which my many teachers at my old school, Hukanui School, made me do all the time. That then brought me into the world of writing. In the last few years I went from disliking writing quite strongly to enjoying it very much. The problem that I had always had with writing was not the actual ideas and content, it was the physical writing and having a link between what I was thinking (which goes 100 miles an hour) to what I was writing (which was much, much slower). Poetry allowed me to think less about grammatical structure and the amount of words and more about how I could bend words to my advantage, by investigating how groups of words sound together to paint a picture.

Philippa Werry

Phillipa Werry reads ‘If you feel blue get on your skidoo’ by Margaret Mahy

Poetry Challenges courtesy of Phillipa:

Write a poem about another mode of transport that plays on its name, as Margaret does with skidoo.  You could pick submarine, double-decker bus, helicopter, train, bicycle, balloon, snowboard, lorry … or something other fascinating means of travelling. 

Write a list poem that starts If you feel ….. (some emotion). You could feel happy, sad, scared, lonely lost, cross, shy, bored … you pick!

Write a poem with some made-up words in it. 

Your poem might tell a story or just have fun with WORDS!

Let your imagine go flying!

Poem source: This fabulous poem is in Margaret’s fabulous poetry collection The Word Witch, edited by Tessa Duder, illustrations by David Elliot (HarperCollins)

Philippa Werry writes fiction, non-fiction, plays and poetry for children and young adults. She has a particular interest in history which has led to titles such as Anzac Day, Best Mates (illustrated by Bob Kerr), Waitangi Day, The New Zealand Wars, The Telegram and This is Where I Stand (illustrated by Kieran Rynhart). She has also been to Antarctica!

Margaret Mahy (1936 – 2012) is one of New Zealand’s most beloved authors. She wrote over two hundred titles from dazzling picture books for the very young to award-winning novels for teenagers. She wrote poems, novels, non-fiction, picture books and countless school readers. Margaret was awarded the Hans Christian Anderson Medal which is an enormous, international honour.

Donovan Bixley

Donovan Bixley reads ‘The Circus’ by Joy Cowley

Poetry Challenges

Donovan says he loves funny poems and poems with an AH HA! moment in the middle. I do too!

Try writing a poem that is funny. It might be a funny character, a funny event, a funny place, funny food, funny jokes.

Write a poem about something funny that has happened to you.

Write a poem that has a surprise or a twist in the middle or at the end.

Poem source: Elephant Rhymes, Joy Cowley, illustrated by Brent Putzee (Scholastic) I am such a fan of Joy’s poems. Check our her Gobbledegook book (see her bio).

Donovan Bixley is one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed picture book creators with over 120 books published in 31 countries. His award-winning titles span high–brow to low–brow and every brow in between, from his illustrated biography Much Ado About Shakespeare, to the hilarious hijinks of pussycats in planes in Paris in his Flying Furballs seriesHe’s most well-known for his best-selling pre-school books such as The Wheels on the Bus and The Great Kiwi ABC Book, as well as his colourful and humorous retellings of of the legends of Māui. Among his many accolades Donovan was the recipient of the 2017 Mallinson Rendel Illustrators Laureate Award, which places Donovan’s body of work alongside some of New Zealand’s most celebrated artists. His books have been twice selected for the International Youth Library’s White Raven award which annually lists the top 200 children’s books in the world, and in 2021 he was named a Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for his services to New Zealand children’s literature.Donovan grew up in Taupō and still lives beside the great lake. When not immersed in the world of picture books Donovan is involved in local theatre and plays saxophone in several bands.

Joy Cowley is one of New Zealand’s best-loved writers. Her awards include the Margaret Mahy Medal; the NZ Post Children’s Book Award 2006; the Roberta Long Medal, Alabama, USA; and the AW Reed Award for Contribution to New Zealand Literature. She is a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Gecko Pres published the utterly magnificent gathering of Joy’s poems, with illustrations by Giselle Clarkson in The Gobbledegook Book: A Joy Cowley Anthology.

Melinda Szymanik

Melinda Szymanik reads ‘Sun Sonata’ by Elizabeth Pulford and ‘Waxing and Waning’ by Elena de Roo.

Poetry Challenges

Try writing a very small poem about the sun OR the moon that shows them in a new light.

Collect sun OR moon words and make poem patterns with them. Have word fun!

Write a very small poem with both the SUN and MOON in. Test out favourite lines and pick your favourites.

Poem sources: Elizabeth Pulford’s ‘Sun Sonata and Elena de Roo’s poems are both in A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children, edited by Paula Green (Penguin Random House).

Melinda Szymanik is an award-winning writer of stories and poetry for children and young adults. She was the 2014 University of Otago, College of Education, Creative New Zealand Children’s Writer in Residence, a judge for the 2016 NZCYA Book Awards and runs an online writing competition called Fabostory, for primary and intermediate age children with 9 other authors. Her most recent books are Moon and Sun (Upstart, 2021), My Elephant is Blue (Penguin, 2021) and Batkiwi (Scholastic, 2021).

Elena de Roo is a children’s poet and author who lives next to Cornwall Park in Auckland. As well as having a sweet tooth, she loves thinking up poems in her head while walking around the park. Her latest book, Rush! Rush! (illus. Jenny Cooper) One Tree House, is a story-poem inspired by a walk in Awhitu regional park. Elena also has several poems soon to appear in RoarSqueakPurr: A NZ Treasury of Animal Poems, (ed. Paula Green, illus. Jenny Cooper), Penguin Random House, due out in November. www.elenaderoo.com 

Elizabeth Pulford lives in a small village not far from the city of Dunedin, New Zealand, with one extra nice husband, and a gentle garden. She has two adult children and two grandchildren. She has published stories, poems and articles for both adults and children. Over sixty books for children, from early readers through to Young Adults; plus one adult’s novel. Many of her adult short stories have won competitions, while four of her children’s books, The Memory Tree (Scholastic NZ), Call of the Cruins (Scholastic NZ), Tussock (Walker Books Australia) and Finding Monkey Moon (Walker Books Australia & Candlewick USA) reached the finals of the New Zealand Children’s Book Awards.

Tania Roxborogh

Tania Roxborogh reads ‘My Sister’s Top’ by Ruth Sun (Year 7)

Poetry Challenge

Think of an everyday object that you can describe in a poem, and that says something about who you are and your place in the world.

Use someone’s favourite piece of clothing to write a poem about them.

Choose your own favourite piece of clothing and see where that takes you in a poem. You might get a story, a word pattern, a picture poem, a list poem.

Poem source: Ruth wrote this poem when she did writing workshops with Tania over six weeks in 2006.

Tania Roxborogh (Ngāti Porou) is a veteran educator and an award-winning writer of over thirty published works. Her latest children’s novel, Charlie Tangaroa and the creature from the sea, published by Huia Publishers September 2020, won the Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction and Margaret Mahy Book of the Year in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, 2021. Tania’s happy places are: her classroom, at home with her husband and her young border collie, enjoying pyjama days, and wherever she can snatch time to read – most often books recommended by her students.

From Ruth Sun: I was a massive reader all through my teenage years, at the time I really liked fantasy and always wanted to be the next Tamora Pierce or Terry Pratchett. I was at Columba College in Dunedin. I used to read and write constantly, although I didn’t actually like poetry much at the time. 

Unfortunately I don’t really do any writing anymore, although it’s something I always think about getting back into. Funnily enough I love reading poetry now, I still love Tamora Pierce and Terry Pratchett as well. I’m now a dentist based in Wellington/Porirua. I have a big collection of books but they’re all in storage at the moment. I’m sure mum still has that top somewhere!

Elena de Roo

Elena de Roo reads ‘Parcel’ by Bill Nagelkerke

Poetry Challenges

Think of a place you love and unwrap it in a poem! It might be your grandparents’ place, or aunt or uncle’s, or in another town or city, in the countryside, another country.

Hunt for detail that will make the place glow in your poem.

Poetry Source: The Night the Moon Fell Down and other poems, Bill Nagelkerke (Copy Press) – some terrific poems in this collection! PG

Elena de Roo is a children’s poet and author who lives next to Cornwall Park in Auckland. As well as having a sweet tooth, she loves thinking up poems in her head while walking around the park. Her latest book, Rush! Rush! (illus. Jenny Cooper) One Tree House, is a story-poem inspired by a walk in Awhitu regional park. Elena also has several poems soon to appear in RoarSqueakPurr: A NZ Treasury of Animal Poems, (ed. Paula Green, illus. Jenny Cooper), Penguin Random House, due out in November. www.elenaderoo.com 

A former children’s librarian, Bill Nagelkerke has written short stories, poems, plays and books for all ages, as well as translating other people’s books from Dutch into English. His most recent titles are a collection of poems, The night the moon fell down (dist. The Copy Press, 2019) and a ghost story, The ghosts on the hill (Cuba Press, 2020). His translation of the children’s novel I’ll keep you close (Levine Querido, 2021) by Dutch writer Jeska Verstegen will be published towards the end of the year.

Bill Nagelkerke

Bill Nagelkerke reads ‘No rhyme’ by Tim Upperton

Poetry Challenge

Tim Upperton’s poem offers lots of challenges for poets! Try writing a poem where you use your imagination and see the world in surprising ways.

Look out the window and rewrite what you see in a poem, letting your imagination soar.

Poem source: ‘No rhyme’ was published in the School Journal Level 3 August 2015 

A former children’s librarian, Bill Nagelkerke has written short stories, poems, plays and books for all ages, as well as translating other people’s books from Dutch into English. His most recent titles are a collection of poems, The night the moon fell down (dist. The Copy Press, 2019) and a ghost story, The ghosts on the hill (Cuba Press, 2020). His translation of the children’s novel I’ll keep you close (Levine Querido, 2021) by Dutch writer Jeska Verstegen will be published towards the end of the year.

Tim Upperton is a poet, writer, reviewer and teacher, living in Palmerston North. He is the winner of two international poetry competitions. He has been published in numerous literary journals and has published several poetry collections.

Poetry Box feature: Lily and Rose (8) interview Bill Nagelkerke

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 Way back then

 

My best friend’s

Mother’s

Mother’s

Mother,

And my best friend’s

Mother’s

Mother’s

Mother’s

Brother,

Rode scooters

In their youth:

Ninety years

(Or so)

Ago.

 

My best friend

Brought a photo

Of her

Mother’s

Mother’s

Mother,

 

 

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And her

Mother’s

Mother’s

Mother’s

Brother,

To show the class

That it was true.

Who knew

That kids had scooters,

Way back then?

 

 

from The night the moon fell down and other poems (Copy Press, 2019)

 

Bill Nagelkerke has a book of poems for children out – so Lily and Rose agreed to interview him.

You can find my review of the book here.

 

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The interview:

 

Did you always like writing at school or did you only start liking writing when you were an adult?

I started off by enjoying stories that were read to me and then stories I was able to read by myself – as well as stories I watched on TV. That led to me wanting to write my own stories, which I did when was about your age. I made them into little books, which I still have!. The first story I had published – and was paid for! – was when I was at high school. It appeared in a local paper.

 

Do you like writing poetry or novels best?

I like all kinds of writing but I think poetry can sometimes be the most difficult, because usually you don’t have very many words to work with and they have to be just the right ones.
If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?

An elephant, perhaps. They have good memories and are thought to be very wise. They still get a very tough time though.

 

What are your 5 favourite books you’ve written and why?

My favourite book will always be the next one because I always hope it will be better than the last. But I do like the two short books I’ve written about Emily, a nine year old who loves to write. (Emily’s Penny Dreadful and Emily, the Dreadfuls and the Dead Skin Gang), as well as the stories about two brothers, Patrick and Pete, which you can find in a collection of stories called Egghead, and other surprises. A story called Old bones is also special because it’s set in a place where I used to live. A new book is due out next year, called The ghosts on the hill and its one I really enjoyed writing because it takes place in one of my favourite locations. (See question 6)

 

In the poem book you gave us, Lily’s favourite poem is the shoelace poem because of the words and she likes the shape poems especially the one about the moon, because it’s clever how it reflects. Rose’s favourite poem is about a mother and she likes the pictures throughout the book. Which is your favourite poem in this collection Bill?

That’s tough question . . . I like the poems that you’ve both picked and the reasons you’ve picked them. I’m also quite fond of the one called ‘Way back then’ – about the fact that children already had scooters nearly 100 years ago – because it was inspired by an old family photo. It’s so hard to choose, though. One day’s favourite might have to change places with another day’s favourite!

 

Have you visited any other countries? If yes, do you have a favourite place (in NZ or overseas)?

I’ve been to a few other places. I have lots and lots of cousins in the Netherlands, as well. One of my favourite places, though, has always been the Port Hills of Christchurch. (See Question 4)

 

What is your favourite colour and why?

Yellow. I don’t really know why. Perhaps because it’s such a cheerful colour.

 

What are you curious about?

Everything. There’s so much to be curious about!

 

Do you have any pets?

No, I don’t.

 

What is your favourite thing in the world?

Kindness.

 

Have your friends ever told you that they don’t like your writing? If yes, what did you do about this?

No, I don’t think they have. In fact, I’m probably my own worst critic. 🙂

 

 

A former children’s librarian, Bill Nagelkerke has written short stories, poems, plays and books for all ages, as well as translating other people’s books from Dutch into English. In 2013 he was awarded the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal for a distinguished contribution to New Zealand children’s literature and literacy.

Lily is 8 years old and has a twin sister called Rose. She is an animal lover and especially loves crocodiles. Her favourite kind of books to read are chapter books. She is a keen writer, and co-wrote wrote her own chapter book this year with her mum about a heroic Crocodile called “Agent C” who tries to solve problems in his community. Lily’s favourite subject at school is art. In her spare time she likes doing Gymnastics and is working on a dance called “Masterpiece”. Lily was once in a Lifeline TV commercial to raise money for this charity and thinks the most important thing in life is love. Her favourite food is doughnuts.

Rose is 8 years old too and….surprise! She has a twin sister called Lily. Rose’s favourite celebrity is Steve Irwin and she loves all animals, especially otters. Her favourite things to do at school are learning maths and class bike riding sessions. Rose’s favourite foods are carrots and raspberries. In her spare time, Rose takes drama classes and is starting as a chip eater in an end-of-year Harry Potter themed production. Rose likes to read books about brave and courageous NZ leaders and adventures (the Oh Boy and Go Girl series). She thinks the most important thing in life is to be a problem solver.

 

Poetry Box review: Bill Nagelkerke’s The Night the Moon Fell Down and other poems with an invite for a child interviewer

 

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Bill Nagelkerke, The Night the Moon Fell Down and other poems, Copy Press, 2019

HOT NEWS: I have a copy of Bill’s new book for one child who would like to interview Bill. See below if you want to put your name in the hat to be picked.

 

At night

 

At night I look up at the sky,

I see the moon and stars sweep by.

I take the universe to bed,

And keep it safe inside my head.

 

 

A former librarian, Bill Nagelkerke is a busy children’s author, publishing fiction for children of all ages, and translating children’s books from Dutch (including a number of Gecko titles such as the magnificent Wolf and Dog by Sylvia Vanden Heede). I discovered Bill’s poetry in the School Journal and was instantly attracted to his deft and playful use of words. I included his poems in A Treasury of NZ Poetry for Children and and am now delighted to see he has a debut children’s poetry collection out.

In 2013 Nagelkerke was awarded the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture Award in recognition of his dedicated contribution to children’s literature and literacy in New Zealand.

I was very happy to write a small blurb for Bill’s book so some of my words of praise are singing on the cover. I loved the way

 

in The Night the Moon Fell Down words fizz, lines glide, rhymes sizzle. You will find soccer balls, winter cats and concrete cakes; there are bottled stars adventure parks and elephant rocks. Bill Nagelkirke is a poetry wizard.

 

Looking at poetry on a screen is never the same as holding a book and seeing how the words and white space fit on the page with the illustrations. The images have personalities of their own just like poems; there are photographs, drawings, silhouettes, prints, things I can’t identify. They are dark and light and intriguing.

Why do I love Bill’s poetry? I love it because his poems dance with life, humour, imagination, stories. Sometimes they start with a simple idea – like switching on the light at night – and then produce an image that is warm in your mind. He is a wizard at this.

 

Switch

 

One quick flick

One sharp click

One small bulb of light

Scares away the big, dark night

 

Authors often get asked where they get their ideas from – I think poems have starting points, leaping pads – and it seems Bill’s come from both his own experience and his inventive mind. There is a poem about his dad (which may or may not be about his actual dad!) who loves making jokes by making puns (when a word has more than one meaning as in ‘kneads’ and ‘needs’). The poem’s last line makes me hope this is a little biography because it is tender link between father and son!

 

(My dad loves words as well.)

 

Bill can take a subject that a universe of poets have written poems about (think the rain, the stars, cats, rocks, leaves) and make the subject fresh. I picked his poem ‘Rain’ for the Treasury because the image sparks all my senses and the lines both surprise and delight me. I love the opening lines:

 

I like the straight-down

Silky rain

 

Some poems are puzzles. I mean they really are puzzles such as ‘A picture-puzzler poem’. This might be a new poem form. I want to give it a go! So inventive!

Some poems surprise, especially with similes and metaphors. I love the poem ‘Parcel’. Holland is a parcel that gets unwrapped every Christmas – Holland gets unwrapped! The parcel gets unwrapped as do memories. The gift calendar shows a snowy Dutch December but here in New Zealand things are different. I love the way this poem got me musing.

I also love the way one word sometimes chimes through a Bill-Nagelkerke poem like a musical note and then leaves you with a startling image.

 

Leaves

 

‘Wipe your shoes

Don’t leave

Leaves

All over the mat.’

 

The leaves in the forest

Are like that mat.

 

 

The arrival of a collection of poetry for children is a rare treat in Aotearoa and is an extra special treat when the book is by an author whose poetry you have long admired. I see this collection as a treasury in its own right.

You can dip in and find just the right poem for the day’s weather, for your mood, to spark you to write your own poems or to remind you how delicious words are. Some poems made me laugh, some poems made me sit still and savour an image, some poems made me thoughtful. Some poems made me look back at the world I am used to and see it in new lights. This is the joy and magic of poetry.

Yes Bill Nagelkerke is a poetry wizard and this book ought to be in every school library and the hands of every child who loves  poetry gymnasiums.

 

Bamboo

 

I wandered

In a forest of tall bamboo,

Bamboozled.

 

 

 

 

HOT NEWS: I have a copy of Bill’s new book for one child who would like to interview Bill.  I will pick one child to interview him and I will post the interview on my blog.

If you want to be picked send your name, year, age and school to paulajoygreen@gmail.com

Don’t forget to put Bill interview in email subject line.

Deadline: Thursday 17th October

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Box audio spot: Bill Nagelkerke reads two poems

 

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Bill Nagelkerke has written short stories, poems, plays and books for all ages, as well as translating other people’s books from Dutch into English. His novel Old bones was a Storylines Notable Book and Sitting on the fence, which tells the story of the controversial Springbok rugby tour of 1981, was a finalist in the 2008 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. In 2013 Bill was awarded the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture Award for a distinguished contribution to New Zealand children’s literature and literacy.

 

Puke Ariki event was a smorgasbord of poems

Wow! What a great event at Puke Ariki last night. A good crowd of parents and children and poetry fans turned up. We even made up a poem for the library and museum.

I would have loved Fiona Farrell, Bill Nagelkerke and Joy Cowley to hear children from Egmont Village School recite their poems. Just fabulous. If only you could have heard Breanna recite Joy’s ‘Haere Mai ki te Moe. ‘ wonderful! Jasmin had brought a gigantic bear to hold as she recited James K Baxter’s ‘Growley Bear. ‘

Emily Boulton, who now goes to Hawera Intermediate, read her poem in the Treasury and a few newer ones.
So lovely to meet her and have her sign books with me and Elizabeth Smither. Elizabeth was our special Taranaki guest. She picked a squishy tomato poem by Fiona Farrell and one of Sam Hunt’s earliest poems (written when he was about 7!) along with her own. I just love her daisy poem and had read to a school in the afternoon!

So moving to hear children from Egmont Village School, Woodleigh School and Frankley School read poems on the theme of Our Place.

I loved them all but I especially loved Emma Kehely reading ‘My Grandma Cup Cake Making’ and Riley Tuuta reading ‘My Special Place.’ Congratulations young poets, you all did your selves and schools proud.

It is 6am as I write this and I have glowing goose bumps thinking of it!

Thank you New Plymouth. Thank you teachers, Poppies and Puke Ariki.

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Reading Festival: Bill Nagelkirke says books are like old friends

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Bill Nagelkerke is a writer and translator living in Christchurch. He has some very tasty poems you will get to see in A Treasury of New Zealand Poems for Children next year.

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What kind of books did you like to read? I enjoyed lots of different books. Some favourites included the Rupert annuals, Enid Blyton’s Tales of brave adventure and the Tom Swift series of science fiction stories. The Rupert annuals gave me one of my early introductions to poetry, as each of the illustrations was accompanied by a rhyming couplet.

What did the library mean to you? We went every week. I was always on the lookout for the latest Tintin or Asterix adventure.

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Do you remember being read to? Yes, definitely. My mother in particular read stories to us. She loved books and reading.

Was there a book that stood out that a teacher read to you? I have a vivid memory of a teacher reading Elsie Locke’s The Runaway Settlers. It had just been published. This was probably the first time I heard a story where events were happening in a place close to where I lived, not somewhere else altogether. It made me look at those places differently.

Runaway settlers  Runaway settlers

What did books mean to you? How did they add to your life? I borrowed books from the library and bought my own books, too. I seemed to have kept a lot of them! They’re like old friends, and full of memories.

Do you still read children’s books? Do you have a favourite this week? All the time. I’ve just finished Geraldine McCaughrean’s latest, The Middle of Nowhere, set in Australia. I feel it’s not her best book but, as always, her writing sings. She chooses her words so carefully.

Bill Nagelkerke at The Margaret Mahy Day

Yesterday morning I went to the Storylines Margaret Mahy Award Day. I got to see emerging writers get awards for their new manuscripts and I got to hear Bill Nagelkerke give the Margaret Mahy lecture. He was awarded the Margaret Mahy Medal for his outstanding contribution to Children’s Literature in New Zealand as both a writer and a librarian. He lives in Christchurch.

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In his speech he talked about the strength of stories in our lives — whether we are readers or writers.

One important source of stories, he said, is memory, and I think it is an important source for poems. So I would say, in memory lies poetry (and other places of course).

Bill also said stories are full of both lies and truth. I would say poems are also full of lies and truth. It seems to me children spend most of their time at school writing the truth — writing what they know. This has produced wonderful writing for decades and decades. But it is also fruitful to make things up when you write. I don’t think children do so much of this in school but I could be wrong.

I will be exploring truth and lies a lot on the blog over the next year (what really happened and what might happen in your imagination). This week I am doing a post on Bill Manhire — he shares three great ideas for making things up. I want to try them myself!

I will also be posting a Bill Nagelkerke poem sometime soon.