Tag Archives: story poems

Curious poems, curious things–thank you Curioseum!

The_Curioseum_cover-197x300   The_Curioseum_cover-197x300

I introduced you to this astonishing new book from Te Papa Press called The Curioseum: Collected Stories of the Odd and the Marvellous (It’s filled to an electric brim with poems, stories and illustrations). You can hear some of the writers read here! See my post here.

These are my favourite poems from my challenge to write about an object that fascinates you.

It was really hard to pick just one poet to give a copy of the book to, but thanks to Te Papa Press I am sending a copy to Mitchell. I loved how he used so few words to say so much. He made the watch come alive for me.

First up Ewen‘s terrific poem. I love the mood of this poem and I definitely agree with the ending! She told me: ‘I borrowed this book, The Curiouseum, from our local library and my favourite part was ‘The Saurus’ by Marisa Maepu, I loved how this animal ate so many words that it couldn’t fit in its book! My poem is about my grandfather’s calculator.’


Complicated Simplicity

From my grandfather

math teacher,

something filled

with numbers.


Inscribed in small,

delicate letters,

‘mini calculator’

it says.


Though how

does it work,

my brother comes

to see,

clicking numbers

discovering how.


It’s simple when

you know how

but more complicated

than it looks.


Ewen aged 11, Year 7, Cobham Intermediate School, Christchurch


Dylan‘s poem has super-duper detail and super-duper similes. I love the picture it makes in my head and I love the ending! Great job!


My Witch

I bought a witch from the shops.

Her hat is like a dinner-plate

with a carrot on the top.

Her hair looks like spider webs

her eyes are like pebbles.

Her eyebrows are like caterpillars

or worms.

Her nose is bony

she has a broomstick chin.

Her shoes are black and old

(they are dirty too)

her toes are poking out.

I think my witch

needs a bath.

by Dylan O, 6yrs old, Year 2, Roydvale School, Christchurch


My other favourite poems for this challenge came in a cluster from Russley School in Christchurch. The teacher (and writer!) Melanie Koster told me this:  ‘I brought in some old, curious objects to school to inspire the young poets. We had an old pocket-watch, a florin and a battered old German dictionary that was given to my grandfather while he was in a POW camp in Germany.

I got a copy of The Curioseum and read a couple of pieces to the children (fantastic book! Thanks for the recommendation!) We also listened to some of the writers read their work on YouTube.’

How wonderful! Here is what a couple of the young poets came up with (I loved them all but just picked a few to post today):

I love the way Riley‘s poem ends and the way it flows:


Bang! Clatter!

I’m made.

1962 has a new florin in town.


I’ve met up with my million relatives.

I’m thrown in a big sack.

The top opens

thousands of my relatives

start screaming.

As they go away from me

tears start to roll down

my surface.


As 46 years have passed

I’ve nearly been around every shop

but one

antique store.


I see a person walking in

through a small crack

in the cash register

He purchases a pound of butter

he hands over five dollars

the register opens

I’m handed over to the man.


He walks straight over the road

and into the antique store.

He looks at me and I look back

I’m put on the shelf

as an antique.

By Riley G, Year 7


Holly‘s poem has great detail and sounds good when you say it out loud:

I Am the Great Old Book

I’m old

a great old book

I’m thin

the front of me is bent

I was published in Great Britain

my spine is getting wrecked

and turning light green

edges coloured with pinky purple

and cream

By Holly, Year 5


MItchell‘s poem shows how an object can hold such memories and move you:

The soldier’s watch

looks like a circle

the back is green

with silver sparkles


sounds like guns

banging very loud


feels sad in the heart

missing family


smells like gunpowder

By Mitchell, Year 7


Azryn‘s poem is short but full of things to discover in it:

Understanding German


The old tattered spine

has string falling out.

Nowhere to go but on a bookshelf.

Should it be in a museum or

should it be in a house?

My prisoner of war number will always

be remembered.

By Azryn Year 6


Monica‘s poem makes a book come alive inside her poem with stunning detail. I loved it!:

Life of a Book

I was once a beautiful tree.

My leaves were so smooth that they shined,

but the axe cut through my waist,

a disgusting stump left behind.


My body was sliced into slithers,

a needle stitched me together.

Words were tattooed on my belly,

I was bound in a cover of leather.


I rode in a monster of wheels,

to a place of joy and delight.

I was placed with more of my kind,

and stayed there overnight.


In the early morning a bell rang,

adults and kids filled the shop

I felt myself fly through the air,

and then I came to a stop.


In front of my cover a girl stood,

she opened me up wide,

she read the words that covered me

I felt an amazing feeling inside.


I heard her read my story,

of adventure, mystery and quest,

I felt the love that she had for me,

my heart felt very blessed.


Now I’m a very old book.

my home is the little girl’s shelf.

I’ve watched her live her life.

now she’s getting old herself.


That girl made my life amazing,

I’m glad I’m the one that she took

I was once a beautiful tree,

and now I’m a beautiful book.

By Monica K, Year 7

My favourite story poems based on real things

So many story poems dropped in my email box over the past month. It was such fun reading them all. I have picked a few to post. I can’t post everything so do try again! Thank you so much for sending them for me to read. I loved them!

First up is a poem by Phoebe. She told me she wrote about the day her grandmother died. I think it is a wonderful thing–to tell the story of something that happens to you in the form of a poem. Phoebe told me she came to my workshop at the Writers Festival and I can tell she thought about sound and detail. It has made this poem strong. It moved me.

Congratulations! I am sending you a book. A copy of one of my favourite novels. It is a kind of sad glad book about a boy who looks different. It is called Wonder and it’s by RJ Palacio.


Poem for a Star

Wide awake

I can hear

But I’d rather be deaf than hear those words that shatter

My beating heart

Buh boom buh boom



My Mum’s bloodshot eyes like a window to her grief

Shaky knees, my knees shaking

Tears shedding

Chaos everywhere

But I can only listen to my beating heart

Buh boom buh boom



And it’s strange to me that all I can think about is the smell of her lipstick

The taste of bread and butter, her soothing hands,

Flicking through magazines I can’t yet read

As the sun rises



I approach the room

Her room

Where she now lies on her own

The air, still and deathly quiet

Perfumed with suffocating gardenia flowers



I’m hesitant to go

But where else?

One last breath



Buh boom

By Phoebe J, 11 yrs, Year 7, Balmoral Intermediate


Sophia‘s poem catches the mood of a day at the beach perfectly as her story unfolds:

A day at the beach

The sky is blue,

The sun is shining.

The seagulls are screeching,

My brother is… Whining!

I don’t see why he can’t have fun,

Just splash in the waves,

Relax in the sun.

Instead he is crying,

My parents are sighing,

We leave the beach then

And travel home again.

 Sophia, Year 8, Saint Kentigern Girls’ School


What a brilliant poem this is from Gemma. How I love the rhythm, the playful rhyme and the repetitions. It felt like was I there! It is like a sandwich poem with a different bit in the middle. I think it really adds to a story when you change things like this. I might try and get an audio file of Gemma reading this poem!

Right Royal Rain

Looked out the window pane

In the pouring rain

Breakfast was Nutrigrain

In the pouring rain

The traffic was insane

In the pouring rain

Made us miss our train

In the pouring rain

Rushed up the lane

In the pouring rain

Got to the domain

In the pouring rain

Waiting was a pain

In the pouring rain

But we didn’t complain

In the pouring rain

Played games inside our brain

In the pouring rain

People formed a chain

In the pouring rain

Then eyes began to strain

In the pouring rain


But suddenly

The sun came out

It shone on the Royals

They came and talked to us

And said “it’s nice to meet you”

We were awestruck…


The there we were again

In the pouring rain

They left to board their plane

In the pouring rain

No need to remain

In the pouring rain

Went back to the train

In the pouring rain

And we’d do it all again –


In the pouring rain.

Gemma L , Age 8, Year 4, Adventure School


Antony‘s poem is an action poem with words that sound good. The short lines work well. Wonderful!

Helicopter Ride

Chop, chop, chop,

Blades chopping the air

Machine gun sounds everywhere.


Up, up, up,

Walkie-talkies booming in my ear

People look like dots from here.


Snow, snow, snow

Mt Taranaki is bright

Volcano-top 3000m height.


Clouds, clouds, clouds,

Rain but light

My best day in flight.


Down, down, down,

Uh oh a splash of blood found!

Ryan’s nose bleeding = crying sound.


Home, home, home,

Safe and sound

Feet are back on the ground.

Anthony D is aged 9 and goes to St Mary’s in Tauranga.


Isla sent me this letter: ‘I am 11 years old, and I go to St Mary’s College in Ponsonby. I came and saw you with my school at the Auckland Writer’s Festival, and afterwards I was so inspired! Here is one of the poems I have written. I also like to include stories in poems, like this one, which happened to my two friends in real life!’ Note from Paula: You catch the action well Isla, with your short lines and punchy rhythm! Brilliant! And oh no at the ending!

Missing the Ferry

Arriving early



Play a game?

the number of ferries

we can see



5… 6… 7…

bored already



how many people

are there who

are waiting?



0. . .?

Our ferry

is sailing away

but we are not on board.


Phoebe also goes to St Mary’s College. She is in Year 7, aged 11. She sent me this terrific poem which might be true but is full of imaginative leaps and that is just what stories can do. I love the way the poem moves!

The Devious Cat

At a friend’s house,

after a scrap with my pet.

  All eyes turned to my scarred thumb.

“What happened?” they say, “What is that?”

Well, I could say it was made by a tiger,

but that wouldn’t be true.

“It was crafted by a black panther,

by the name of Charlotte,”

I reply,

“An elegant, collared thing she is,

just don’t annoy her

on the couch”

Gemma has updated The Owl and the Pussy Cat


When I got a copy of an updated version of The Owl and the Pussycat  I thought it would be fun for you to do an updated poem.

Gemma wrote my favourite one ( I especially loved the lime green car and the loud crowd!) so I am sending her a copy of the book.


Young Owl and Pussy Cat

Young Owl and Young Pussy Cat went to the City

In a fancy big lime green car

They thought it was funny

‘Coz neither told mummy

Their naughtiest act, by far!


The two little rascals went straight to McDonalds

Ordered fries, shakes and a Big Mac

But got caught in a crowd

That was scarily loud

And couldn’t wait to get back.

Gemma, Year 4, aged 8, Adventure School




my favourite story poems where something changes


Making something change in your poem can give your poem extra zest. That is what these young poets have done.

Can you spot how the poems change or what changes inside the poem?


Emily surprised me with her story poem. I liked the way this story changed very much indeed and its juicy words. Congratulations! I am sending you a copy of my book, Flamingo Bendalingo.


Away in the jungle

A rattle snake wriggled across the floor,

A tiger paddled down the corridor,

The birds in the curtains began to sing, and…

Just as the tiger was about to spring,

The teacher stopped at my desk and said…

“Your work is very good but is demonstrating

Complete lack of…. IMAGINATION!”

By Emily S, Year 6, Room 7, Waterview Primary School


Gregory‘s poem changes in how the main character sees things! Phew. This poem builds great tension. Exciting! Great job!

The gun goes pop
My legs drop
The paint goes splat
Right in my back

I let out a shriek
From my beak
I pull a trigger
I hear a yelp

I’ve hit
A girl
Right in the leg
She lets out a silent cry
I see her in my eye

Now she’s screaming at me!
I don’t know why
But then I realise
She is on my team!
She’s now after me!

So now I run
But I’m not fast enough
Because she’s mutinous
Then I hear a pop
My legs drop
Then I flop.

By Gregory L, Age12 Year 8, St Patrick’s Catholic School Taupo


And from Ewen, a shift from noise to quiet. But there are other shifts as well! Can you spot them? I love these delicious layers.


A rowdy racket,

in a hall,

then boom!


Thunder strikes,

a shrill scream,


Minutes later,

sun shines,

smiles all round,

normality as its best.

Ewen W, aged 11, Year 7, Cobham Intermediate School, Christchurch


Joshua has written a poem that explores shadow and light. It is very atmospheric! All kinds of shifts and changes. Wonderful!

Umbrae Mortis

The Darkness is a cloak, hiding all the living things,

The Darkness is a shroud, the mist on the sea on cold mornings.

The Darkness is a raven, preying on those weak and fearful,

The Darkness will Reign, and the Fear shall rule.


The Darkness hides from the light,

Yet the light is concealed by the Darkness,

The Darkness rules the night, the light shall rule the day,

People hide in their houses, lights and candles shining,

Fire keeps the Darkness at bay, flames licking in the shadows,


The Darkness shall walk around the earth, hiding from the sun,stars, and moon,

The Darkness shall fade, to the morning cobalt gloom.

The Sun reaches its long arms to embrace the world,

The Sun speaks the name that which, the Darkness always fears.

Joshua L, 11 years old, Year 7, Remuera Intermediate.

my long-weekend poem

It is a   l l  oo  nn  gg

weekend. The perfect time to write a poem!

S c r o l  l

back though all my story poem ideas and see if you can                             F I N D

one you want to       tRy.    (see         b     e       l       o        w )


Lots of exciting things coming up on Poetry Box  …. I can’t wait!  But this me, this weekend:


My Long Weekend

I will clean the house

and answer emails

and weed the garden

and wash clothes and

cook dinner and find

lost things and write

letters and simmer

a poem and take

a photo and go to a movie

and swim in the ocean

and read a book

and read another

book and lie on the couch

and dream of snow

and very tall mountains

and going on tour

and having one

super power so

I can fly to faraway

places and

faraway people.



DEADLINE for your Story-Poem Challenge: Wednesday June 4th

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 Story-Poem challenge.

I will post my favourites and have a book prize for some poets.

questions questions questions … and a frozen cat

When you write stories you often have questions in your head.

what? when? why? who? what next? how? what if?

What happens if you try writing a story poem and you play with some of these questions and mix them up and ask them more than once?

This is a poem-story-question adventure! Give it a go!

Does it make your story-poem more interesting?

Does it make your story-poem more boring?

Is there too much going on?

What can you leave out to make it more interesting?

Mix up the order of the questions.

I had a go here (I could change the order and see what happens!):


A dog tripped

over the cat

because the cat

saw a big blue hat

that looked like

a blue hat monster,

so the cat froze,

even though

the sun was shining.




When the sun was shining

on a big blue terrifying hat,

a cat froze in fright

and a dog tripped over

the icy sight.


(I think I like the first one better! It does make a difference what order you tell things)

(I looked again this morning and now I prefer the second one!)


DEADLINE for your Story-Poem Challenge: Wednesday June 4th

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 Story-Poem challenge.

I will post my favourites and have a book prize for some poets.




A curious challenge to go with a marvellous book The Curioseum: Collected Stories of the Odd and Marvellous

The_Curioseum_cover-197x300   The_Curioseum_cover-197x300

Objects are fascinating. Things are fascinating.

So many things have stories. That is why I like going to museums and looking at things that take me to another place and another time. There is something mysterious about looking into a glass case and seeing something that is OUTSIDE what I know.

Objects are a stepping stone to a poetry adventure.

I was very excited to get a new book for children from Te Papa. I love this book! It fills me with all kinds of ideas I would like to do. It makes me want to write and it makes me want to catch a plane to Te Papa and see the objects there (ah, if only  could!). It makes me curious!

That is the perfect word to use, as the book is called: The Curioseum: Collected Stories of the Odd and Marvellous (Te Papa Press, 2014). Adrienne Jansen was the editor and worked with publishing students from Whitireia on the book.

Some of my favourite New Zealand poets and authors have stories and poems in here: Joy Cowley, Elizabeth Knox, Bill Manhire, Mandy Hager, Margaret Mahy, Barbara Else, James Brown, Bill Manhire. I love everything in the book, but I especially loved discovering a new author, Frances Samuel, who has written a cool story about a monster fish who has a boat stuck on its back. I especially loved Bill’s poem about stepping into and seeing colossal things. His poem made me laugh out loud.

They picked: a doll, some pounamu, the colossal squid, a purse, a dinosaur bone, the kiore (rat), a ceramic fish, a box of beetles, a foldaway boy, a spirit house, a cloak, a rifle, a fantail, a waka, a castaway suit, a bike, the kuri (dog), a teddy bear, a Pacific Island dog, Phar Lap.

This is one of my favourite books so far this year!

You can hear some of the authors reading their work here.

It also has zesty (good enough to eat!) illustrations by Sarah Laing who illustrated my book, Macaroni Moon.

At the back of the book, each author tells you what they saw in the museum that sparked their writing. What a great idea!


So … time for a challenge for you. I want you to find an object that has a story behind it. The object might be in a museum but it might belong to someone you know–your parents or grandparents or aunt or uncle.

The object might be odd or marvellous or strange or quite ordinary.

Use what you discover to help you write a poem.

I will post my favourite poems as part of the Story-Poem Challenge and, thanks to Te Papa Press, I have a copy of this wonderful book for one young poet. Woohoo!


DEADLINE for your Story-Poem Challenge: Wednesday June 4th

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 Story-Poem challenge.



I challenge you to write a story poem that is funny! and my Spike Milligan true story


I love writing funny poems and I love writing poems that make you laugh. It is true–laughter is the best medicine. Some of the poems in my book  Macaroni Moon are based on true stories because funny things do seem to happen to me.

Our cat Charlie (that’s big fluffy grey one) really did covered in blue paint!

I have got lots of poetry books that make me laugh! Sometime the language is ordinary and sometimes the language is really inventive and fun to say out loud.

These are some of my favourite poets who are really good at writing funny poems (often they tell a story!): Michael Rosen, Edward Lear, Spike Milligan, Jack Prelutsky, Ogden Nash, Roger McGough.

I even have a funny story about one of them that I have turned into a poem.


Spike Milligan

One day when I lived in London

I saw Spike Milligan cycling towards me

and I was so surprised I started laughing

and because I started laughing

he started laughing and because

he started laughing he nearly

fell of his bike.


So! Why don’t you have a go at writing a story poem that is funny. I have copy of The Book of Complete Nonsense to give to my favorite one.


DEADLINE for your Story-Poem Challenge: Wednesday June 4th

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 Story-Poem challenge.

I will post my favourites from all the Story-Poem Challenges and have a book prize for some poets (Year 0 to Year 8).




another story poem challenge: c h a n g e

When I was at the second School Day at the Auckland Writer’s Festival I heard Eleanor Catton talk to students about writing stories.

She said an important ingredient in stories is change.

So  thought it would be fun to write a story poem where something changes. When I read your poem I will be able to discover the change.

The change might make the poem more interesting. It might be surprising. It might add a layer.

The change might be in the weather or what happens to someone or something. It might be in how you see something or feel about something. You can make it really obvious or you can slightly hide it so we can discover it.


DEADLINE for your Story-Poem Challenge: Wednesday June 4th

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 Story-Poem challenge.

I will post my favourites from all the Story-Poem Challenges and have a book prize for some poets (Year 0 to Year 8).




Melinda Szymanik’s The Song of the Kauri is simple, poetic and important

9781775432289  9781775432289    9781775432289

Melinda Szymanik, The Song of the Kauri, illustrated by Dominique Ford, Scholastic, 2014

This book has a beautiful cover in orange and browns with a shiny embossed koru that you can trace with your finger and feel its smoothness.

This is how the story begins: ‘Once upon a time, when the land was new, and time and memory were just beginning, a giant began to grow out of the rich earth.’

This a beautiful sentence– simple but full of possibilities.

The sentence leads you into the story of a kauri. The sun knew what it was good at. The moon knew what it was good at. And the kauri just kept growing and growing as the world kept changing and changing.

The story is simple, poetic and important. It makes you think about the place of things in the world by showing us what they do. It never preaches or shouts messages. It just tells a story using sentences that have been lovingly cared for.

And it has gorgeous illustrations — these too have been lovingly cared for. This is a book you should hunt down when it comes out in early July. It has been crafted with love by the author, the illustrator and the publishing team at Scholastic. I just adore it! I am sure it will become one of New Zealand’s best loved books!

You could try writing a story poem about a tree. Find the book first and read it and then have a go at a poem. Make you tree come alive on the page with great detail. Where is your tree? What happens to your tree? You might to do a bit of research. You might need to use your imagination.


DEADLINE for your Story-Poem Challenge: Wednesday June 4th

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 Story-Poem challenge.

I will post my favourites and have a book prize for some poets.