Tag Archives: NZ poet

double storm poems! a swarm of storm poems!

Hello poetry fans,

I realise that I have had two stormy weekends in a row and accidentally made storm the topic for two different challenges. How confusing for you and me!

We lost power for two nights the first weekend and part of a day in the second storm. So storms were on my mind!

I do think you can return to a topic though and find new things to say about it. That’s what I love to try and do in my own writing.

I am hard at work writing every morning which is why I only answer your emails in the afternoon.

I have had SO many storm poems that have played with lines it is going to be SO hard to choose just a few to post in the morning.

Remember this week’s challenge was to write a storm poem and use your EARS and LISTEN to your poem when you have finished writing it.

Happy poetry days!



The Treasury Interviews: Joni interviews Renee Liang


About Joni  Year 3 (7 ½ years old), Haumoana School.

  1. My mother and father named me after Joni Mitchell (one of their favourite folk singers), Dad’s grandma Beatrice Ashton, and of course, I have my Dad’s family name (Uytendaal – pronounced Oh-ten-darl), originally from the Netherlands.
  2. I was born in Tasmania and then I moved to New Zealand four and a half years ago.
  3. I live in Te Awanga with my sister, Erin, and mother and father.
  4. I love to write stories and draw pictures. At the moment I like to write about haunted places (mansions, streets, ships) and draw people and plants and animals.
  5. My birthday is on October the fourteenth, the day after my father’s birthday. This year I’d like to go camping under the stars with a few of my mates and family at Kuripapango and eat birthday cake and hard-boiled lollies!


Bio about Renee Liang

Renee Liang is a paediatrician (a doctor who specialises in children’s illnesses) who also writes poems and plays. Her parents moved to New Zealand from Hong Kong before Renee was born. She has two sisters. Her Chinese Wen-Wei which means literary blossom. She lives in Auckland with her husband and two children.

When did you decide you wanted to be an author?
When I was about your age. When I was six my teacher started reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, by CS Lewis, to us in class.  I must have talked about that book all the time because for my seventh birthday my parents bought me the entire set of Narnia books.  From then on I was hooked on reading – whenever I got the chance, and even sometimes when I was supposed to be doing something else, my nose was in a book!  I remember reading C S Lewis’ introduction to his stories, when he said that he wrote the stories that he himself wanted to read. That made complete sense to me. And from that day on I wanted to be an author.
What is the first story you wrote called?
It was called “The Hole In the Forest”, and I wrote and illustrated it aged five. I still have it. It features a tiger who falls through a hole in the forest into a magical world. And it has a golden spine, made of stapled cardboard.
Where are you from?
I am from New Zealand, but my parents are from Hong Kong and they were born in China.  My family has always loved travelling – my parents must have been on the biggest adventure of their lives when they decided to come a third of the way across the world to live here!!  I have their sense of adventure to thank for my wonderful life and opportunities.  I love to travel too. I’ve been to Europe, Africa, South America and Antarctica.
When do you mostly like to write stories?
My most creative time is at night. I’ve always been a night owl. There’s something about staying up past everyone else, and staring out my dark window, and dreaming of far away worlds.  Sometimes I’ve stayed up so late it becomes morning again.
Why did you choose to be an author?
I don’t think people choose to become writers….writing finds them.  When people tell me that stories bubble up inside them and they can’t stop thinking about them, then I know they are true writers. And my advice to them is, to write. To give in to the delicious urges and let themselves indulge in creating these worlds and characters that only they could make.
Who is your inspiration?
I’m inspired all the time by everyone that I meet. When I meet people, whether it be in my job as a children’s doctor or at the supermarket or elsewhere in my daily life, I start wondering about what it is that makes them tick.  Sometimes the wondering turns into a character in a story. Other times I learn something from the things that they tell me.  I read a lot too, and watch a lot of plays. I think, ‘oh, this is an interesting question’ or ‘I’ve never seen a story told this way before’, and it all goes into my brain for later.  Right now I’m watching my kids (a toddler, and a baby) a lot as they’re constantly exploring and learning. They teach me how to see the world in new ways.
7.  What do you like to write about most?
I write about whatever’s affecting me in my life. It’s changed over the years.  I wrote a lot about love; about family; and about who I thought I was.  I’m used to people asking me where I’m from and complimenting me on my English, even though I was born here! So I write about identity.  Now that I have kids, I’m starting to think about writing stories for them.

Thanks for the questions Joni, and also sharing the information about yourself!  I hope to read some of your writing one day. Renee


Note from Paula: What a fantastic interview. I loved reading this.  Thanks Joni and Renee. Renee has a cool poem in A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children called ‘Caterpillar’ about a children’s game.

The Treasury Interviews: Eloïse interviews Raewyn Alexander


My name is Eloïse M, and I am 11. I go to Balmoral School in Auckland. I love to read (I used to be told off by my teachers for reading books under my desk!) and I also play the piano.

Raewyn Alexander pic by Geneva Alexander-Marsters

picture credit to Geneva Alexander-Masters

A biography of Raewyn Alexander:

Raewyn Alexander has written novels, poetry, and non-fiction (guides co-written with Olwyn Stewart).  Her writing has been featured in publications such as the NZ School Journal.
She has performed her poetry at literature events. Raewyn was born in Hamilton but currently lives in Auckland. I have seen some examples of Raewyn’s poems online and they’re wonderful.


The Interview:
Hi Eloise,
I hear you go to Balmoral School. I am so pleased you study poetry and writing there. The study and writing of poetry is my life’s joy, while other writing compliments and feeds from that.
When I was 11, about your age, we had a school magazine and we could send in our writing to be published. I hope you also have one and send your writing in to the school magazine.
Now here are replies to your questions. I hope my answers are helpful and entertaining in some way.

1. Where do you get ideas for writing?
The late great Michael King said to say in answer to this question, “I go to the ideas tree and pick them off there.” He was joking of course, but in a way it is like that. Ideas are everywhere.
A good writer can write about anything at all. The ideas are not as important as the writing, the work itself. Practice makes a good writer great, so I hope you practise your writing, and read lots of books.

2. Have you always wanted to be an author/poet?
I have deeply loved language and stories since I can remember. My mother was an excellent story-teller, mainly with fascinating anecdotes from her everyday life. Such an eye for detail, and a great turn of phrase. Love for people also came out in what she said and gave her stories vitality. Then too, my paternal grandfather played with language all the time and gave us grandchildren nicknames. Mine was Topsyana Whizz Bang Pom-pom. He sang to us and told us stories, too. My dad would come home tired from work, but we’d press him for stories at the dinner table. He sometimes made us laugh and gasp, the work-world was so exotic to us.
I grew up pre-TV, in a rich oral culture, conversations everywhere. Listening to people talking together is still a delight. This is the kind of experience that made me want to work with language.
My first paid work was a letter of the week when I was about nine or ten, in the Weekly News, against racism. I received ten shillings, a lot of money at the time. It was so exciting to think I could get published, and be paid.
I told people I wanted to be a writer from about 14, but no one took any notice.
I just ploughed on anyway. It was rare to be a writer in NZ, then. Those of us who kept on trying are the ones who succeeded. Writing is always good, however, keeping on learning and mastering the form.

3. How hard was it to get first published?
Well, to be published as a letter of the week was easy in a way, it was the first time I’d sent a letter anywhere like that, (but I did write to relatives and pen pals, previously). Before that I had written lots of work at school, and writing at home in notebooks. I also told many stories I made up, or knew, to the little children in the neighbourhood, and read about four or five books to myself, a week. So lots of work went into becoming a writer, however it was a joy to take it on and simply feels great to do, even if it gets difficult. I call it ‘Exploring the infinite world within.’ I love how time expands, how I go into my own world, so good for my spirits.
For years in my twenties I wrote stories and sent them off, to places like Metro, The Listener… and got them rejected. Some rejection letters were encouraging, though. But I did often have letters to the editor published in The Herald. I also wrote many advertisements and press releases for our fashion business, Zephyr. (We are mentioned in The Dress Circle, A History of NZ Fashion). Then my various boyfriends were in bands and I helped write some song lyrics, and also, with inventing names for bands. Words and writing have many applications.
It took me many tries to get a poem in Poetry NZ, but I did get a few into smaller literary magazines before that, Printout, Spin, and so on. That also took a while to happen. I always looked at the poem again, thinking how to make it better, if it was rejected. Some editors sent me suggestions for reading and so on, so lucky. I just kept reading lots of books and magazines, and writing.
Then, I wrote six novels to see if I could produce one I liked. The seventh one I sent away and it was accepted, but I had to rewrite the whole thing. The publishers asked me to. It took three bottles of Twink to get that redone, no computer in those days.
The other novels I had tossed under the sofa, and when I found them one day spring cleaning, I realised they’d all helped me write the last, successful first novel, so they were not wasted.

4. What is your favourite genre to write in?
Mainly I write literary work, poetry, stories, essays, novels and plays. I prefer thoughtful work, up-to-date playful language, with a strong sub-text. I also like to bring in my political stance, and explore serious issues through placing characters in difficult circumstances then having them change their lives to be happier, and more successful in decent ways. For poetry I try all kinds of things as my fancy takes me. Now and then I write for a competition, essays, stories and so on, then the deadline forces hard work out of me. I believe we have to write what we love, in any case, as Ray Bradbury says, or don’t write, do something else.

5. What is it like getting published and seeing your name on books?
I always find it startling and pleasing to be published. I feel truly blessed to even be able to write, to get published is unbelievable.
It’s such a lovely surprise when people say they like something too, or have some comment to make. People love my latest novel, Glam Rock Boyfriends, for instance, they keep telling me they cried, or laughed, or love it. I am always amazed, then delighted. They often help me keep going with their support or criticism.
The hardest thing is when someone gets the wrong idea. I find some readers do not understand what I meant, but everyone has their own opinion, it’s just the way life is.
Usually once a book is out I am onto a new project, the finished product often helps me move on, and feel like I did do something substantial.

Thanks Eloïse , for asking me questions about writing, it’s helped me see what I am doing in a fresh light.

Note from Paula: What a great interview Eloïse and Raewyn. Thank you! Raewyn has a cool skipping poem in A Treasury of NZ Poetry for Children.


The Treasury Interviews: A St Margaret’s College Class of Y7 and 8 interviews Maria McMillan


Our class is made up of 16 Year 7 girls at St Margaret’s College in Christchurch. We combine English and Social Science (ENSS) so that means we have the same teacher for 10 periods a week. We think we are fairly typical Year 7 girls because we like … yummy food (butter chicken, sushi, McDonald’s, pies, chocolate, Subway, ice cream to name a few), books (such as Divergent, The Dark Blue 100 Ride Bus Ticket, The Hunger Games series), sport (horse riding, netball, swimming, water polo, hockey, athletics, basketball, squash, climbing and touch rugby), subjects at school (LUNCH, PE/Health, ENSS, Art, Speech and Drama, Performing Arts, RE). We also love Margaret Mahy, Roald Dahl, lots of singers and actors and of course technology!


Maria (pronounced Mariah) McMillan lives on the Kapiti Coast of New Zealand. She grew up surrounded by books and loved reading. When she was seven she was given an anthology of poetry and this was the beginning of her love of poetry. Maria is conscious of all the injustice in the world and said she “would prefer to write bad important poems than good trivial ones.”

The Interview:

1. What is your favourite type of poem to write?

I like writing poems that start with a big question or an interesting idea and then the poem tries to prove it or disprove it. Maybe it starts with an outrageous statement and then the poem defends that statement.

2.  Does it usually take you long to write a poem?

Sometimes I write the first draft of a poem in one sitting so it might be an hour or so. But I almost always have to go back to it at least once to edit it. I’ll spend a long time changing words around, or the order of the lines. I’ll read the poem out loud to myself a lot to help me understand when the lines sound awkward and when they sound like I want them to. I add things and take things away and then add them back in in a different way.  Some poems take ages, I need to sneak up to them over and over again, trying to get them to behave the way I want them to.

3. Do you have any pets?

We have a tabby kitten called Tuesday. One Tuesday someone found him crying and abandoned in a park near where we live and rescued him. The next Tuesday our family met him and brought him home so we think Tuesday is a lucky name for him.

4. Do you like curry, if so what is your favourite type?

I love curry. I would happily eat curry every day. I go through phases. I like Palak Paneer a lot at the moment. It has lovely blobs of creamy cheese which offset the curry sauce perfectly.

5. Do you have any children? If so, what are their names and are they writers? Is anyone else in your family a writer?

I have a daughter called Abbie who is eight, and a daughter called Lily who is five. Abbie writes stories now and wants to be a children’s book writer and illustrator when she grows up. Abbie and her friend Sophie have written comic books about a Pig and a Koala. My Dad is also a writer. He was a newspaper journalist for many years, and has written lots about international relations – how different countries behave to one another and why.

6. What is your favourite type of chocolate?

I think Whittaker’s Dark Peppermint Chocolate is really good.

7. If you were a celebrity who would you be?

Hmm, tricky, who do you suggest?

8. What is your favourite colour?

Greeny-blue, but sometimes blue-y green. I go into shops and try to look at things or clothes in other colours but almost always what I really want is the blue one.

9. Did you like English when you were at school?

I had a horrible time at my first high school so I didn’t like much of anything there. Some of my teachers were pretty dull too. If anyone should have had a good time in English it was me because I loved reading and writing. In my last year of high school though I swapped schools and my English teacher, Helen Leahy, was just fantastic. She had us reading lots of contemporary New Zealand women writers, and I got all inspired again.

10. Do you ever write poems about people you know?

I write lots of poems about people I know. Only the nice and interesting ones though otherwise I might get in trouble. The title of my poem in the book “I know just about everything now I know” was an actual quote from my niece Bridget. She said it when she was four and was about to start school. She didn’t know what they’d teach her because she knew everything already. She is twenty now!

Thank you for a fabulous interview Maria and St Margaret’s girls. Maria’s poem in the Treasury is a very cool list poem of things you might know. It is a great idea for a poem and I might use it on Poetry Box.

The Treasury Interviews: Ewen W interviews Fiona Farrell


The interviewed: Fiona Farrell is a writer of many genres mostly for an adult audience; her first book (poetry) was Cutting Out (1987) and her latest book (Christchurch earthquake poetry) is The Broken Book (2011). She has won many awards for her books, some of them are: 1982 Bruce Mason Award (Poetry), 1993 New Zealand Book Award for Fiction, 2007 Prime Minister’s Award for Fiction and the ONZM 2012 Queen’s Birthday and Diamond Jubilee Honours for services in literature.

The interviewer: My name is Ewen Wong, I am 12 years old, I go to Cobham Intermediate, Christchurch and used to go to Fendalton Open Air School. My favourite authors are: Angie Sage, JK Rowling, Michael Morpurgo, Derek Landy, Paul B. Janeczko and Paula Green. I like to read and write  poetry, fantasy and magic. My favourite subject is writing but I also like Maths, running and biking.

The Interview:

Which book did you most enjoy writing?

I’ve enjoyed writing all my books, but the first one to be published –a book of poems — was the most exciting!


At what age did you start getting interested in writing?

I began writing poems when I was little and when I was 10 or so I collected them in a little notebook that I still own. Here is my first poem, which I wrote when I was five.

Come little kitty,

Come to me.

Come little kitty

And have your tea.


What is your favourite genre to write or read?

I like reading poetry, non-fiction and realistic fiction. I don’t like fantasy, books that try too hard to be funny or biographies of boring people.


When did you move from Oamaru?

I left Oamaru when I was 18 to go to Dunedin to university.


Where do you like to write and read?

I like writing in a little hut in a paddock next our house on Banks Peninsula. It is very quiet and sunny and I can concentrate and read things aloud without anyone overhearing. I like reading in bed or sitting on the swingseat on a sunny day.


What is your favourite word to use when writing?

‘The End’ (can I choose two words?) because that means the book is finished and I can begin to think about the next one!

Good luck with your writing, Ewen.


What a great interview Ewen and Fiona. Thank you! Fiona has four poems in A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children. One is about a vagabond tomato and one is about a bright red kiwi fruit. Fiona has a great ear at work when she writes because these four poems sound simply delicious.


Young poets: I need your help to launch the Letterbox Cat

Letterbox Cat   Letterbox Cat     Letterbox Cat

Time to show you the cover of my new book, The Letterbox Cat and other poems. I am really excited. I love the look of it inside too. Scholastic are publishing it in August. Thank you Scholastic! Myles Lawford did the cool illustrations.

In August I will post a competition for all of NZ and have some copies of the book as prizes.

But right now I am on the hunt for some young Auckland poets to help my launch my book at Storylines Family Day in Auckland.


What you have to do: Write a poem about a cat. It might be funny. It might be a true story. It might make a picture of a cat grow with words. It DOES need to sound good read aloud.

Send to me by August 15th to paulajoygreen@gmail.com


My favourite poets will get to read their cat poems with me at the Family Day launch.

When:Sunday August 31st ( I don’t know exact time yet)

Where: Aotea Centre, Auckland


You need to include: Your name, age, year, name of school (home-schooled is okay too!)

You need to include the name and email of your parent or guardian

You can also include the name and email of your teacher

Your parent or guardian needs to give permission for you to read at my launch



my periscope cloud and another winter challenge

Children often ask me where I get my ideas from.  I usually say the world. Ideas just come to me like little flocks of birds. Little starting points jump out at me.

This poem I wrote fits our Winter theme this week. It was the most amazing sight! Maybe you can have a go at a cloud poem for the Winter challenge. Where to send it is below!


Today at the beach

I saw a skinny cloud

sticking its long skinny head

up like a periscope, as though

it wanted to see over the Tasman Sea

to Australia, and see what all

the other clouds were doing

and to see (most especially)

if any other cloud

knew how to look like

a long skinny periscope!



DEADLINE for your Winter-Poem Challenge: Thursday June 12th

Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, year, age and name of school. You can include your teacher’s name and email. PLEASE say it’s for the Winter-Poem challenge.

I will post my favourites  and have a book prize for one poet (Year 0 to Year 8).

Juliet McLachlan has published her poems (written aged 6 to 11!)

A Door to the North cover     A Door to the North cover

The Door to The North, Juliet McLachlan, Steele Roberts, 2013

In a month when we are exploring the way poems can sound good (and all kinds of other things) it is a treat to be able to tell you about a new book out.

Steele Roberts have published a book of poems, A Door to the North, written by Juliet McLachlan when she was a child (she is still young!). Juliet has already been published in anthologies and her local newspaper, The Press. On the back of the book, I read that she also likes ‘dancing, music, karate, circus skills and debating’ (how many of these can sneak into the pen of the poet?).

Juliet photo sepia -small

The book reminded me of Laura Ranger’s collection, Laura’s Poems, that she had published when she was child. I don’t want to start comparing these two books too much as they are quite different, but I can tell both young poets had a passion for words, for playing with words, for seeing where words led them. Like Laura, Juliet has clustered poems in age brackets: 5/6, 7/8, 9/ 10, 11. Both books light up a joy in words.

Juliet’s poems show how simple writing can shine in lots of different ways. Her poems don’t rhyme and they hardly ever use similes or metaphors (that’s not to say you shouldn’t as fabulous poems do!). Juliet’s poems do have a great sense of rhythm. I love the words on the ends of the lines and the way she mixes up the number of words on the line.

Juliet has listened to each line and the way it sounds. I love these: ‘the clouds shadow/ over / the land.’ What is surprising with this, is the way ‘shadow’ is unexpected — the word catches you by surprise and it sounds good (and it also helps paint a picture of what the poets sees).

As you might imagine over a long priod of time there are lots of different topics: mum, peace, the stars, the weather, camouflage, trying to escape having a shower.

Poems for Juliet, from an early age to the more sophisticated poems, are a place to wonder. She thinks about things, yet the poems still hold onto simplicity. Looking into one of her poems isn’t like looking into a muddy stream but a clear pool where you too can ponder.

Congratulations Juliet on this fine debut. I look forward to se where your passion for words leads you next.

I have kindly been granted permission to post one of Juliet’s poems, ‘How to tell a story.’ This poem was written when she was 7 or 8. This is a great example of Juliet’s skill with rhythm and choice of words on the ends of lines. I love the way it shows how poems can tell little stories too, but not quite like in story books! Wonderful!


How to tell a story


Listen up


in the


air, sink


down in


your jacket


think of


the past


years, spill


your breath


in a


lake, stay


in the






© Juliet McLachlan



I don’t have a spare book to give away, but I am inviting you to write a poem using Juliet’s title. Play with how your poem sounds but do what ever you like! It can be very different from Juliet’s poem. I will post my favourites and have a book prize for one young poet.

Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age, year, name of school. You may include your teacher’s name and email address.

Deadline: Monday February 24th

Peter Bland talks to Poetry Box about wandering, drawing and hops and skips

Peter Bland is one of my favourite poets for children. He lives in New Zealand but has spent his life living between here and England with his family. His poems are on all kinds of subjects but the words always dance and dart, swing and skate as though they are in playground. Peter knows how to play with words and he knows how to write for children.

images-1  images-2  images-1     images-2

Peter has published two collections of poems for childrenThe Night Kite (Mallinson Rendel, 2004) and When Gulls Fly High (Penguin, 2011). His daughter (Joanna Bland) painted pictures for one and his son (Carl Bland) painted pictures for the other which makes these two books pretty special. I have so many favourite poems in these books that it was hard choosing one to post here! You will have to hunt for his books yourself. The poems are always playful and will take you to all kinds of places and put you in all kinds of moods.

4      5   5

Peter has kindly given me permission to post one of his poems. I picked ‘The Bed Boat’ as I love the way an ordinary thing (like your bed) can become so much else. I also love the words on the end of the line and their tricky rhymes.

The Bed Boat

My bed is a boat.

The mattress won’t leak.

My head-board’s a rudder,

my sail is a sheet.


I sail every night

exploring my room,

past wardrobes like ships,

past mirrors like moons.


As I drift into sleep

my bed-boat sails on,

though where it sails to

is known to no one.


But when I wake up,

my voyage safely done,

I throw back the curtains

and let in the sun.

© Peter Bland The Night Kite Mallinson Rendel 2004

Peter kindly answered these questions for Poetry Box:

What did you like to write when you were little?
I wasn’t encouraged to use my imagination or write anything as a child. I mostly did drawings of battleships and fighter planes and buildings getting blown up. This is because I was brought up in England during the last war. As a ten year old I began drawing things from nature … fossils ans mushrooms and birds and ponds. I also invented maps leading to buried treasure.

What else did you like doing?
I was left on my own a lot, so I took to the wandering through the surrounding countryside exploring.

Do you have any favourite children’s poetry?
I liked Walter de la Mare‘s poetry because it was lonely and spooky and full of mystery.

Do you have three tips for young writers?
Always write about what really interests you.
Have fun with words. Be as silly as you like with them. Learn to speak your own poems to yourself as you’re writing them. Voice is the way a poem comes into the world.

What do you think is important when you write poems for a children’s book?
Try not to offer advice or instruction. Be playful and imaginative and full of physical relish. Children’s poems have to be immediately accessible and bursting with energy and invention. When you write a poem for children it has to take you by surprise as you write it. I wrote a lot of my poems for my own children to read to them at bedtime. This was in the 50’s and 60’s before television. I enjoyed that shared experience so much I’ve gone on writing them. Grown-ups seem to like them as much as children. I think this is because it brings back to life the forgotten child in their own nature. Children have a wonderful ability to be fully at home in the moment, and poetry is very sympathetic to this. It likes to hop and skip.