Tag Archives: poetry tips

Tips for bird poems: use your extra special poem-camera

Try taking a poem of a bird instead of a photo.

Your poem-camera is a pretty special thing though as it not only sees, it hears and catches movement.

Go on a hunt for bird words with your camera. Find as many words as you can that show what the bird looks like.

Use the moving lens and hunt for verbs that show how the bird moves.

Use the ear knob and hunt for the sounds of the bird.

Twist the poem-camera and see what the bird likes to do.

Look through the secret peephole to find out if there is anything special about this bird.

Now use some of these fabulous words and write a bird poem. You don’t have to say everything.

Read it out loud. Does it sound good?

Then ask yourself whether you have captured a good picture of the bird in your poem.

Remember you can send your bird poem to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age, year and name of school. Also include your teacher’s name and email if you can. have fun!.

Story poem tips and starting points …..

Here are some tips for writing story poems:

1. You don’t have to use lots of words and sentences like you do when you write a story.

2. Your first line is like the beginning (it can have one word or go to the end of the line!).

3. Your last line is like the end of the story. Will it surprise you, make you laugh, be a puzzle, or just tells us what happens at the end of the story? (it can have one word or go to the end of the line).

4. Will you find some words that shine on the line?

5. Before you start your poem, go on the hunt for good verbs (doing words). They will help you tell your story in a poem.

 

Here are some starting points (ideas) for a story poem:

1. Write about something that happened to you that you will always remember.

2. Write about what happens when you find a magic stone.

3. Write a poem as if you are a character from a nursery rhyme.

4. Write a poem as if you can fly.

5. Write a poem as if you are a Hero Cat.

6. Write a poem as if you had two magic wishes.

7. Write a poem about an animal that turns up at your place.

8. Write a poem about a dog, a mouse and an elephant (or any three animals you like). What happens?

9. Write a poem about a lazy cat and a hardworking chicken.

10. Make up your own poem about a porridge pot that never stops bubbling over in your kitchen.

11. Make up a poem about the worst day of your life (you can use your imagination).

12. Write a poem about the best day of your life (you can use your imagination).

13. Retell a myth or legend as a poem but use no more than 20 words.

memory is poemagic: tips and starting points

I am very excited about this challenge.

Now that you are on the hunt for a childhood memory of your grandparent or parent here are some ideas to help you search:

Ask some of these questions to help find the memory for your poem.

Did you ever see anything that got in the newspaper or on tv?
Did you ever see anyone famous?
What was different when you were little? At school or at home? Food? Transport? Toys? After school time? Holidays? Clothes?
Did anything funny ever happen to you? Or strange? Or exciting? Or scary? Or kind?

Sometimes the best memories are very ordinary. I loved talking to Great Nana about her life as a girl. I think the memories of old people are like little treasures and poems are a great way to keep them safe.

Some tips for memory poems:

Stick to one memory.
Or make a list poem of all the things that were different.
Put real things in your poem to make it come alive.
Hunt for things you see or hear or smell.
You don’t have to fit everything in.
Your poem might flow like a conversation. The words might match the way you talk.
Your poem might flow like a little story.
Find words that shine on the line.
Use some of your Nana’s (or Granddad’s) words in the poem.
How many words will you put on the line?

This Week on NZ Poetry Box: Remember when Nana and Granddad

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Last week I read a wonderful book which made me change what I was going to do on Poetry Box this week. I read A Winter’s Day in 1939 by Melinda Szymanik (Scholastic 2013) and got caught up in another time. Melinda wrote the story of her father and his family when he was twelve. They had been forced to leave Poland and go and work in a Russian labour camp round about the time World War II was starting. They had to leave behind almost everything and live in a place that was tough, freezing and had hardly any food. Melinda used her father’s notebooks to help write the story. I loved the way this children’s novel opened a window wider on time when terrible things were happening in the world (unfortunately they still are).

So I thought it would be really great to set a challenge that involved two things: memory and our grandparents or our parents. It is time to go hunting for their memories and turn them into little poems (see below).

This week on NZ Poetry Box it’s all about memory. On Monday I will set you a memory challenge, on Tuesday I will give you some sizzling memory-poem tips and starting points, on Wednesday it is time for poetry play so we will think backwards, on Thursday I am posting an interview with one of my favourite children’s poets, Peter Bland, and on Friday I want to play with CAPITAL letters.

The Poetry Challenge:   

I challenge you to ask an older relation (Mum or Dad or Nana or Granddad) about a memory they have from their childhood. It might be something that happened to them and it might be funny or sad or exciting or interesting. It might be a memory that shows how things were different when they were young. This challenge can come through a school, a writing group or an individual child. I am excited!

It might help to write down words as your relative shares their memory. You could visit them or telephone them or write them a letter or email them. You might have to ask them questions to get them to talk more about their memory.

You have until June 13th (nearly three weeks) to do this challenge, because I am really excited about it (I want to do this challenge!)!

I will give you tips, and starting points during the week (especially tomorrow.

Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age, year and name of school. You can include your teacher’s name and email address if you like. This is of course also open to home-schooled children.

There are two prizes. An older child (up to Year 8 or 9) will get a copy of A Winter’s Day in 1939 by Melinda Szymanik published by Scholastic NZ in 2013.

A younger child will get a copy of The Song of the Ship Rat (2013) by the fabulous Ben Brown and Helen Taylor thanks to Scholastic NZ. This book, with Helen’s gorgeous illustrations and Ben’s sizzling words, is full of the memories of a rat at sea.

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Poetry Tips and Starting points: Memory is poemagic

I am very excited about this challenge.

Now that you are on the hunt for a childhood memory of your grandparent or parent here are some ideas to help you search:

Ask some of these questions to help find the memory for your poem.

Did you ever see anything that got in the newspaper or on tv?
Did you ever see anyone famous?
What was different when you were little? At school or at home? Food? Transport? Toys? After school time? Holidays? Clothes?
Did anything funny ever happen to you? Or strange? Or exciting? Or scary? Or kind?

Sometimes the best memories are very ordinary. I loved talking to Great Nana about her life as a girl. I think the memories of old people are like little treasures and poems are a great way to keep them safe.

Some tips for memory poems:

Stick to one memory.
Or make a list poem of all the things that were different.
Put real things in your poem to make it come alive.
Hunt for things you see or hear or smell.
You don’t have to fit everything in.
Your poem might flow like a conversation. The words might match the way you talk.
Your poem might flow like a little story.
Find words that shine on the line.
Use some of your Nana’s (or Granddad’s) words in the poem.
How many words will you put on the line?

Starting Points for story poems can lead you anywhere

Here are some starting points for story poems. They could lead you anywhere!

Before you start writing the poem try collecting lots of words and details and then only use some of them to make your poem. You can change your story a bit to suit your poem if you like.

1. What is your earliest memory?

2. Can you remember something that happened that made your family laugh?

3. What happened at your favourite birthday?

4. What might happen if you went back in time? Where would you go? What would happen to you?

5. What has happened to your pet ( I wrote a poem about our cat falling in the blue paint in Macaroni Moon).

6. If you had a super power what would it be? What would happen to you?

7. Has anything funny or exciting or surprising happened to you on holiday?

8. Have you ever got stuck somewhere?

9. Have you ever felt embarrassed when something happened? (Check out my petrol story on The Book Council website!!).

10. What would happen if you met your favourite character from a book?

11. Try coming up with 5 more starting points for a story poem and I will post my favourites. Open to teachers or writers or children. Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. If you are a child include your name, year, age and name of school.

Poetry Box Tips for Story Poems

A story is like a necklace — each bead is something happening.

We tell little and big stories everyday to each other about things that have happened.

Yesterday the weather was so wild that when I went to get the mail there was a torrent of water in the gutter and I got all wet (my daughter is learning to drive so I was in the passenger seat). Luckily I tucked the late poetry entries in the bag with the bread and leapt back over the gushing water, through the rain and into the car. My shoes were wet and the poems were dry!

That’s what happened. The poet in me wants to turn it into a poem:

Wild water rushing

through the gutter,

wet feet but the letters

are bone dry

in the bread bag.

I spent years studying what a story is at university so it is a favourite topic of mine! Now I like to keep it simple. A story will have a beginning, a middle and an end (no matter how we play with this and say it won’t). Things will happen (although some writers like to write stories where very little happens just like in life). There will be characters and a setting. Writers play around with these bare-bone ingredients and add whole lot more!

1. When you try writing your story poem play around with your first line (your beginning) and your last line (your ending).

2. Think about how each line sounds and how many words you will use on the line.

3. Which bit of your story will you leave for the reader to guess or will you tell them the whole story?

4. Maybe you could let the reader guess how you felt in the story. How did I feel in my wet gutter poem?

5. Do you need to use capital letters at the side? If you don’t, your story poem will flow better.

6. Think about the title. Will it be a clue to the story or tell the story in a nutshell? Both can work.

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

Starting Points for List Poems

My partner Michael used to make heaps of lists when he was a little boy: rivers, animals. capitial cities and made-up things. Here are some starting points for list poems:

A list of your favourite food.

A list of your favourite books.

A list of your favourite places in books you have read or your favourite characters (you could use words to add more than a name or just the name!).

A list of marvellous adjectives or verbs or nouns.

A list of what you like to do in the holidays.

A list of what you would do in the holidays if you could do anything.

A list of strange machines (what can they do?) or machines not yet invented.

A list of sounds you like or sounds you don’t like (or smells!).

A list of wonders of the world (they don’t need to be the Seven Wonders — make up your own!).

A list of your favourite toys or toys no-one has yet invented.

A list of what you like about your mum or your dad (I challenge you to think of real things they have done that show the way they are kind or funny or love you).

A list of what you see if you stand on a tall chair in your back garden.

A list of what you see at the beach or in the mountains or bush.

A list of your favourite clothes.

THIS LIST has got really really LONG so it is time to STOP and for you to give it a GO!

…  and don’t forget to have FUN!