Tag Archives: Cornwall Park District School

The Treasury Interviews: Emily interviews Emma Neale

Hello my name is Emily M. I am 11 years old and I attend Cornwall Park District School. I wrote my first ‘published’ piece when I was in Year 1, about a tree outside my house. I have been writing ever since. I prefer to write short snappy pieces such as poems or cameos because they can take any form, whether creative or a masterpiece worthy of Roald Dahl.

Emma Neale


Photo credit: Graham Warman

Emma Neale was born in Dunedin and raised in Christchurch, San Diego and Wellington. She writes lots of poems for adults, but an elk is suitable for all ages. Her primary publishers are Random House NZ and Steele Roberts. She has published a range of books, and is the winner of the Todd New Writer’s Bursary.

I like Emma’s poem ‘Elk’* because an elk is an animal unfamiliar to most children, therefore this poem is educating as well as quirky and creative. It morphs from topic to topic as smoothly as butter melts into liquid. Emma has her own NZ book council page.

* This is the poem that Emma has in A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children. It plays with language beautifully.


The Interview:

What advice would you give a budding author?

Read as widely as you can; share your draft work with other people whose critical opinions you trust; be prepared to rewrite in order for your work to really say what you mean it to say.

What is your favourite flavour of ice cream?

Only one?!?! Anything chocolatey and crunchy at at once – preferably covered in chocolate dip, too, oh and why not chocolate sprinkles, and a chocolate flake stuck in like a flag claiming the edible moon?

What is your favourite piece you have written?

I still really love the main male character from the novel Fosterling. There are passages in that book that feel to me as if they really happened – the passages where Bu’s mother, Lillian, recalls raising her small, disfigured boy in necessary isolation. They feel to me as if they came from some presence outside my own small and quiet life.

Who was your favourite author as a child?

Childhood has so many seasons,so there were different favourite authors for different phases. I loved the My Naughty Little Sister books when I first started school; then Judy Blume, Noel Streatfield, Madeleine L’Engle, John Wyndham, Penelope Farmer, poems by Eleanor Farjeon and John Masefield and AA Milne…. it’s a bit like ice cream. Very hard to choose just one flavour of book.

If you couldn’t become an author what occupation would you like?

An editor. I’m lucky enough to work as an editor part time at the moment: and it means I am involved in the creative process and getting my hands sticky with language even when I’m not writing my own work. I love it.

What inspired you to write?

Having fantastic English teachers, a house full of books, an imaginative mother, a father and mother who both listened and encouraged me to ask difficult questions, a sister who shared imaginary play with me, and just being immersed in the world of books from an early age. I think now that perhaps also having a mother who was a good actor helped: she read aloud to us from when we were tinier than the candlestick that Jack jumped over – and she has a wonderful sense of dramatic timing. So hearing her read was like sitting in on a private theatrical performance. I’m sure that this must have deeply embedded story as a sensuous experience as well as an intellectual one.

What a wonderful interview Emma and Emily. Inspired questions and inspiring answers. Thank you!

Aimee, Neo and I go the TV studio to record poems and an interview for The Book Show on Face TV


To celebrate The Letterbox Cat (Scholastic, out now) and A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children (Random House, out Oct 3rd), Carole Beu invited me to The Book Show. Aimee and Neo read poems and Carole and I chatted about the books, Poetry Box and my Hot Spot Poetry Tour of NZ.

Aimee and Neo go to Cornwall Park District School and read some poems. They got their mics on, stood against the green backdrop and recited their poems beautifully. I was so proud of them.

Afterwards we went to a cafe for hot chocolate and talked about books and poems and being on TV.

It was a great morning and I especially loved talking with Carole about poetry for and by children.

Here’s where and when you can see the episode:

Where: The Book Show, Face TV Sky 083

When: Wednesday October 1st 8.30pm, Thursday October 2nd 12.30pm

and from Thursday morning you watch it on YouTube.

Tomorrow morning you can find the link here if you look at the top of the Women’s Bookshop homepage and click on The Book Show. This is Episode Three.

His sticklike beak, pale and creamy (from Cornwall Park District School — bird poems with little gold nuggets)

Recently I visited the wonderful Cornwall Park District School. What a treat to work with all the Year 5 and 6s in the hall — sharing poems and making up poems and talking about poetry. I thought this was a tip top school to visit with children joining in with gusto and glasses of water on hand for me (and jellybeans!).

I also did a writing workshop with a group of year 5 and 6 students and their bird poems blew me away. There are nuggets of gold in these poems. Great detail makes their birds come alive on the page. Excellent verbs give their poems movement. And all the poems I picked have standout lines that I want to say over and over. I will let you go on the hunt for these delicious poetry treats. Feel free to write a commwent for the young poets and make their day.

The bird poems:



It stomps through the swamp

holding its head up high

Blue and white and black feathers

rustling in the wind.

Red beak snap snap snap at a spider

flaps its wings and takes off

soaring like an aeroplane

legs dangling like limp tree branches

after a storm.


By Jenny




Their tawny wings soar through the night

with wide yellow eyes and a hooked nose

beating their wings they take flight

but as they spot mice they slow.

They sweep up their prey

making sure it doesn’t fall

then they vanish before day

leaving nothing but their call.


By Sammy




Proud, majestic

stands as tall as a king,

nibbling berries with its bullet beak.

Slow swooshing wing beats in the air

emerald green plumage tumbles down its chest.

It flaps over the tall, thick forest

like a broken hang glider.

Ku ku ku ku, it softly cries,



By Emily




Tail feathers spread like a fan

Long, slender, smooth

Beak shaped like a thorn from a rose

Little, sharp, fuzzy

flapping its little wings like a butterfly,

flitter, flutter, flitter.


By Abby



Yellow Crowned parakeets

Multi coloured

gliding, swooping, clawing, biting

combed straight feathers

green with blue-tipped wings

tails like elastic being stretched

hooked beaks like an eagle’s

swoosh, swoosh sing the wings,

nearly extinct.


By Nick




Evading, twirling

grasping berries and insects

gliding peacefully over the lush green trees

beak shimmering in the sunlight.

It’s white eyebrow twitching in the wind

feeding the chirping chicks

grasping worms from the soil

fluttering from branch to branch

diving playfully after the insects,

the stitchbird.


By Robbie




Enveloped in a glossy blue coat

soaring through the bush

blissfully screeching,

red-apple beak

greedily plucking for worms,

a contented upkeep.


By Natalie





flapping its wings heavily

crashing through the undergrowth clumsily

a smooth, curved beak

vibrant plumage,

wood pigeon.


Laying eggs

chicks hatching

guzzling pigeon milk

offspring fledgling

wood pigeons.


By Max



The Hungry, Hungry Kiwi

Scouring the night

searching, searching

with beady eyes,

a low drumming call

as he wanders the night

his soft ruffles rustling,

his sticklike beak, pale and creamy,

scraping the ground for food.


By Marley

A suitcase, a bird, and a squirrel,

Here are some more poem collages from Cornwall Park District School. I would like to give this a go. I wonder how you do it? I loved the idea of filling a suitcase with things like the suitcase is the poem. That poem is by Soji.


This poem is by Jensen and Akshay. I like the way they have played with an acrostic poem. It is a bit different and that makes it interesting:


Flynn and Tom played with my poem. They really mixed up the lines so that adds to the poem beautifully:


bubbly foam and a hair comb … at Cornwall Park District School

This week I went to Cornwall Park District School and had a terrific time. Amanda was an excellent host and the students in Year 5 and 6 really joined in when I did my presentation in the hall.

I want to post some of the poems that came out of the workshop as they filled me with delight. But in the meantime, some students went away after the hall session and got writing.

I really like the way Jessica has reworked my poem. Her rhymes are sizzling!

Hiya Paula!
My name is Jessica, I go to Cornwall Park School. I am in Year 6 and I’m 11 years old.
You have just visited our school today, 16th September. I really enjoyed your visit! Here is my re-creation of your cheek pouch poem! I hope you like it.
I’m the girl that came up to you after your talk and recited my “soft” poem!