Tag Archives: sound

Margaret Mahy’s adjectives SOUND good — so here’s a challenge for you!

9780140506303    9780140506303

The New Zealand Book Council has been on the hunt for New Zealand’s best loved book (a classic book). It will be announced at a special session at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival in May.

I was invited to send in my pick and the first book that popped into my head was the book that stayed in my head for all kinds of reasons. I was OVER the MOON that I had picked a children’s author.

I picked Margaret Mahy‘s The Lion in the Meadow. They will post the reasons why, but I will tell you one thing. She is really good with adjectives in the book.

I love this repeating phrase: ‘a big, roaring, yellow, whiskery lion in the meadow’

Margaret would have PLAYED with these adjectives until she got them SOUNDING just right. How DELICIOUS they are to say out loud!

 

NOW your TURN!

Try writing a poem where you use a string of adjectives like Margaret has —  but you play with them first to get them sounding good. Maybe you repeat the line in your poem. You can pick a different animal or bird for your adjective line:

The ……….,   ………….,   …………..,  ……………….  cat

or

The ……….,   ………….,   …………..,  ……………….  owl

or

The ……….,   ………….,   …………..,  ……………….  elephant

or

The ……….,   ………….,   …………..,  ……………….  tiger

OR ANY ANIMAL or BIRD you like!

Once you are happy with your line use it in a poem (you can use it more than once)!

 

You can enter you list poem in the February sound-poem competition.

Deadline: February 27th

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

I am posting my favourites and will have a book prize for one young poet.

Poetry Box Tip: Using your ears

Poetry Box Tip  will be useful when you are writing your poems for the sound competition.

It is really good to LISTEN to your poems. Say them out loud. I always say my poems out loud as I am writing them. Then when I have finished a draft I read the whole thing out loud to the birds and the dogs and the cats. My ears will catch a word that doesn’t sound right, or a line that doesn’t seem to belong.

Listen to the rhythm of each line. Do you stumble on a line when you say it like you have hit a traffic jam?

Listen to the word at the end of the line. Listen out for words that sound really juicy, delicious, surprising.

Listen to someone else read a poem. Which word catches your ear?

I am going to give lots more tips on sound over the next year but for now think of your ears as an important tool when you write poetry.

When I say my poems out loud, I like to listen to the sound of one word when it is next to another word.

Remember there is no one right way to write a poem. Poems are golden opportunities toPLAY.

The poem-that-sounds-good competition is due February 27th.

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

I am posting my favourites and will have a book prize for one young poet.

Margaret Mahy’s The Word Witch and a mini challenge

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.

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I met Margaret several times and I loved many things about her. I loved her generosity with words — not just on the paper where they wove spectacular (and quiet) magic but with other people. She always wanted to listen to others, to read the books of others, to delight in the lives of others — and she devoted much attention to children. To me she was an exceptional role model for authors.

Once she asked me to recite one of my poems. I was surprised and shocked she would ask me but my poem Blind as a Beetroot came into my head and I recited that. I was quaking in my jandals but she roared with laughter and slapped her knees when I finished. That was such kindness on her part.

Today I am going to tell you what I love about her poetry collection The Word Witch and talk about a poem of hers that HarperCollins has so kindly given me permission to post. Tessa Duder went on a fabulous hunting expedition to gather the poems togther for the book. Before I talk about the book though, I am going to give you a mini challenge. Write and tell me which Margaret Mahy poem you love and why.

You have until 5pm Saturday 23rd March. Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com with your name, age, class year, name of school, teacher’s name and email and I will post the winner on Monday 25th March.

Word Witch (With CD)   Word Witch (With CD)

Margaret’s poems never sit still. It is as though she sat on a rocky beach hunting for marvellous words with patience and daring and a knowing eye and ear. Each word is like a little rock or shell or pebble and Margaret could see what made that pebble word special. She knew how to make a pebble chain (of words) that gleamed and glistened and sparked.

Some of her poems are long and are terrific read aloud — I love ‘Down the Back of the Chair,’  ‘A Summery Saturday Morning’ and ‘Bubble Trouble.’ These poems have infectious rhythms that get your body moving, but they also have dazzling alliteration (‘calculated catchwork’) and rhymes that duck and weave and chime. Margaret is our Rhyme Queen.

Three salutes because Margaret was never afraid of big words (nefarious, cacophony, gallant). Perhaps like me the dictionary was one of her favourite books as a child. It is a bit harder now with spell check and computer dictionaries to snuggle up and hunt for words.

I love the made-up words that find their way into Margaret’s poems: flingamango, sandified, fandandical.

I love too those poems that tell a story; the rhyme and the rhythm and Margaret’s spectacular imagination sweep you along the curves of the story (‘Bubble Trouble’ is a great example).

I am posting ‘Baby is falling Asleep‘ thanks to HarperCollins (see credit at the end of the poem).

This poem has it all. It starts with a very ordinary, everyday thing. The baby manages to fall asleep amidst the clutter and racket in a household full of cats, dogs, mother, father, sisters, brother and bagpipes! Margaret makes that racket boom and burst on the page and in your ear. Say her words out loud and listen to her sounds: ‘grousing and grumbling’ and ‘pinging and popping and piping and clattering.’ Marvellous. Her rhyme is slipping and sliding and making music magic. She is not afraid to put in ‘cacophony.’ Say that word out loud and hear how good it is.

I like the way she plays with the last lines so that they are nearly the same but not quite. Try it!

Altogether this is a poem that reading once is just not good enough. You need to read it again and again. Perhaps you will be like me and the poem will make you want to get writing too.

I have felt a bit sad writing this post knowing that Margaret is no longer with us and we no longer have the joy of her presence, but I am full of such gladness that we have the richness and joy of her words.

 

Baby is Falling Asleep

 

The happy home rumbles with racket and rumpus

and Mother and Father both jiggle and jump as

the fracas flows in from each point of the compass . . .

yet baby is falling asleep.

 

Kate’s in the kitchen. She’s grousing and grumbling

at Sam on his skates. He is sliding and stumbling

upsetting the saucepans. Ka-BOOM! They go tumbling!

But baby is falling asleep.

 

Florrie and Fern are commencing a flounce-about!

Two of the cats start a passionate pounce-about,

dogs begin barking, embroiled in a bounce-about.

Baby is drifting to sleep.

 

Mervyn makes music no ceiling can soften. He

blows on his bagpipes. Amazing how often he

hits a wrong note, and produces cacophony!

Baby has fallen asleep.

 

Sleep, little darling, through family clattering,

blaring and banging and booming and battering,

pinging and popping and piping and pattering!

Sink into whispering sleep!

 

© The Word Witch

By Margaret Mahy, edited by Tessa Duder, illustrations by David Elliot

Published by HarperCollins New Zealand

 

This week on NZ Poetry Box and Challenge #3 Sounding Out

Thanks to all the children, teachers and parents (and fans of poetry) who are supporting NZ Poetry Box. I am still finding my way so I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions. What a treat to read your small poems last week young poets! I have had some great feedback on the finalists’ poems. Don’t forget if you want email alerts on my new posts you can follow the site (scroll down on the right).

This week and next week NZ Poetry Box celebrates Margaret Mahy and looks at the way poems can sound.

Word Witch (With CD)

I have been a fan of Margaret’s writing since I got my first copy of The Lion in the Meadows in the 1970s. Of all the children’s authors in the world she was the one that showed me how words can make extraordinary music in your ear as well as taking you on extraordinary adventures.

On Monday there will be a new poetry challenge, on Tuesday there will be a poetry tip to help that challenge, on Wednesday I will talk about the way Margaret’s poetry book The Word Witch makes poetry magic, on Thursday it is time for Poetry Play and on Friday I will tell you what I love about Margaret’s picture book The Moon & Farmer McPhee.

This week’s Poetry Challenge is to write a poem that sounds amazing when you read it aloud. You will have to think about how many words you use. Margaret loved the sound of words — you can tell when you read her poems. Tomorrow I will give a pick ‘n mix bag of sound tips to help you. I will be looking out for juicy words and listening to each line. Use anything from 2 to 14 lines. Open for Year 1 to Year 8 students.

DEADLINE: You have two weeks! Send your entry to paulajoygreen@gmail.com by 5pm Thursday 28th March. Please include your name, age, year, name of school and teacher’s name and email address. The winner and other favourites will be posted on Friday 29th March in the morning. The winners  (one older and one younger) will get a copy of Margaret Mahy’s  The Word Witch (thanks to HarperCollins NZ).

Poetry Box Tip #2 Listen listen listen

Poetry Box Tip #2 will be useful when you are writing your poems for The Fabulous Poetry Competition.

It is really good to LISTEN to your poems. Say them out loud. I always say my poems out loud as I am writing them. Then when I have finished a draft I read the whole thing out loud to the birds and the dogs and the cats. My ears will catch a word that doesn’t sound right, or a line that doesn’t seem to belong.

Listen to the rhythm of each line. Do you stumble on a line when you say it like you have hit a traffic jam?

Listen to the word at the end of the line. Listen out for words that sound really juicy, delicious, surprising.

Listen to someone else read a poem. Which word catches your ear?

I am going to give lots of tips on sound over the next year but for now think of your ears as an important tool when you write poetry.

When I say my poems out loud, I like to listen to the sound of one word when it is next to another word.

Remember there is no one right way to write a poem. Poems are golden opportunities to PLAY.