Posts tagged poetry

Your turn!

Your turn to write a poem

I find lots of people think that poetry is so hard to write.

Yet a poem can be written with rhythm, strength and strong feeling by just using two words for each line, a bit like a ladder, all the way down that page

Here are some photos that might help you to have a go.




Here’s an example:

Brown towers

cobble stones

sky paving

giraffe tall.

(c)  Lorraine Marwood

See if you can write ten lines like this- after all that is only a 20 word poem.  Have a go.  Post your poems in the comments section.  I’d love to read them.

This type of poem cuts out all the unnecessary words and allows the poem to breathe.  It also makes us use the strong words of writing like nouns and verbs.

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Childhood and its influence on my writing.

Now that’s an interesting topic!  I know that what I liked as a child, I still like now.

One thing I loved to do was explore.  We lived near the bush and near the abandoned workings of one of Bendigo’s famous gold fields.

I walked through some paddocks and into the old mining area.  It was very dangerous when I look back now, because many of the mines were uncapped and so deep and so full of water , way down.

But I could feel the history, the untold stories, the drama, the hardships, the excitement of finding gold.  I also began to read about the gold fields.  So many thousands of people came to Bendigo from all over the world to find their fortune.  Many Chinese came too and you can still see the re-workings of abandoned mines by the Chinese, they made the mine shaft circular, different to the Cornish miners.

I began to imagine.  For years an idea ran through my head.  I even have the draft of a story I wrote before my goldfield story ‘Ratwhiskers and me’ was published by Walker books.


The story is written in a different way, as a verse novel.  I realised that particular genre was just what I needed to complete that story.

I remember begin ‘stuck’ half way through the writing.  So I took a thermos and sat just in a little park near an abandoned gold field.  My characters began to breathe easy and as I soaked in the atmosphere, my writing had a new direction.

This was a story I had to write.  I love finding snippets of history and breathing new life into them.


Here is a photo of the graves of many Chinese miners who died on the Bendigo gold field.  A cemetery is often an interesting place to walk through.

So this is one aspect of my childhood that lives on in one of my books.

What do/did you like as a child and are you still interested in those things?  I’d love to hear about them.

Lorraine M

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Gathering Ideas for writing

How does an author gather ideas?

How does a poet gather ideas?

My answer:

We look and observe, capture a tiny detail, embroider it

look at it from a different angle, then surprise the reader and ourselves.

I use exercise books like this to keep all my ideas together:


I always write the date in, I jot down a thought, a sight, a little treasure of a word, or a sudden idea.

(or even the complete poem)

If I don’t write it down straight away it goes away never to return.

Here is a suggestion for you to begin your own ‘ideas’ book.

Try keeping an ideas book each day for a week.

  1. Just write down a conversation that was funny or unusual you were a part of or overheard.

Here’s an example:

While on a walk recently  I overheard these comments:

‘I bet a thousand dollars…’


‘It’ll make you dizzy.’


‘But then you would never…

These fragments could become part of a story, or a poem or lead to more ideas.

2.  Just write down a few words about what was happening in your world, even the weather.

3.  Even a quick sketch of your pet and a few words about what they like to do best.  Sketching and writing is a great idea.

For my latest collection of poetry ‘Guinea Pig town and other poems about animals’ Walker books, I was able to observe animals and then write from this.  Taking a photograph to look back later was great also.

Here are two photos of two animals.  Both were in London and both are the subjects of poems in my book.



If you are able to look in a copy of ‘Guinea Pig town and other Animal poems’ then look up:

‘A big bathroom’


Then you can see the finished poems.

What do you like to write about?  I’d love to hear from you.

Lorraine M

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Meet our October Star Author Lorraine Marwood

Our wonderful October Star Author is Lorraine Marwood.  Lorraine was born and raised in the country, and lived for most of her married life on a dairy farm. She is an award-winning poet who often writes about country life, and she has also published several children’s novels and collections of poetry.  Her books include a verse novel called Starjumps, Ratwhiskers and Me, and collections of poetry, including Note on the Door, and Guinea Pig Town and Other Animal Poems.

Thanks for joining us Lorraine!  We look forward to hearing all about your writing and books.

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Bananas In My Ears – Poems by Michael Rosen

Michael Rosen is a cool poet and author who has been writing poems for years.  His poetry collections always have really funny titles like Lunch Boxes Don’t Fly and Mustard, Custard, Grumble Belly and Gravy.  His latest collection, Bananas In My Ears, is full of weird and wonderful poems.

In Bananas In My Ears there are poems about everyday life, like things that happen at breakfast time or when you go to the doctors, but there are also poems about silly things that could happen.  My favourite poems in the book are called ‘What if…’ and they’re about things like ‘What if a piece of toast turned into a ghost just as you were eating it?’ or ‘What if they made children-sized diggers?’  They’re really funny and things get completely out of control in them.  Each of the poems are illustrated by Quentin Blake, who you might recognize as the illustrator that did the covers and illustrations for all of Roald Dahl’s books.

Poems are great to read if you don’t have alot of time to read or just want something short and Bananas In My Ears is a collection of poems you’ll want to read again and again.

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Sticky Ends – Poems by Jeanne Willis

There are all sorts of poetry books you can find in the library.  There are nice, sweet poems about friends, poems about animals, or poems about monsters.  Some of them rhyme and some of them twist and turn all over the page.  Sticky Ends is a new collection of twenty-six very funny cautionary verses where the characters come to a sticky end.  Some of them are stupendously silly, some are horribly gross, but they’re all funny.

In Sticky Ends you’ll meet Bubblegum Pete who ate all the bubblegum he could eat, but then comes to a sticky end when he blows the biggest bubble and gets blown away.  There’s a very naughty Father Christmas who gets blackmailed by a naughty boy, Lardy Marge who eats too much butter, and Filthy Frankie who gets cocooned in snot.

If you ever need a really funny poem to read aloud at school or to make your parents squirm, Sticky Ends has a great selection to choose from.  If you’re looking for it in the library, just look for the picture of an elephant sitting on a person on the front cover.

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It’s nearly the end of the second week of term three already. In my class we’ve been doing lots of Maori art in traditional and non-traditional colours. Everyone is choosing their favourite pieces to display. They look awesome!

Last night I went to the Regional Science Fair in Fairlie. There were lots of great investigations and experiments to look at. Well done to all students involved and especially to the winners.

Thanks to the people who have been posting comments, including Mark and Ansja Whetu. Mark is one of New Zealand’s best known mountaineers and adventurers. I have been lucky to teach both of his and Ansja’s super-cool kids. Last summer Mark took my book to Antarctica to read when he was down there guiding a group of American scientists. He told me they all read and loved my book but they couldn’t believe it was written from someone in little old Twizel in little old New Zealand!  He also told me that most of them had never heard of Iron Bottom Sound or Guadalcanal, which I think is really sad because thousands of Americans died there.

Do you think it’s important to know the history of your own country? I’d be interested in your thoughts.

I have decided to share some poems with you. Here’s the first one.

POEM ONE: This is a poem from The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound. I didn’t really write this poem. I copied most of it from a poem written for me by my Australian e-mail friend Mac Gregory.

The ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound

Are murmuring in the deep,

Underwater cameras have disturbed them

From their long, long sleep.

 In case you are wondering: Mac’s poem was about a Kiwi Writer disturbing the ghosts, not underwater cameras – the Kiwi Writer was of course me!

Log on again soon for another poem. The next one will be from my not-yet-published second book The Lucky Ship.

Ka kite ano

From Sandy Nelson

Author of The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound

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Poetry by Kezia

Hi everyone

At my school lately, we’ve been writing poetry about sadness.

I’m putting mine on the blog because it goes in deep and you really feel it.

It’s a sad sad day, when you feel deaths ice-cold fingers.

It’s a sad sad day, when your curiosity turns on you.

It’s a sad sad day, when anxiety presses on your mind.

It’s a sad sad day, when your hopes are crushed.

It’s a sad sad day, when your struggle was for nothing.

On happier terms,

we also did lots of poetry on Autumn surrounding the senses.

For example,

Autumn is the bliss of warm water, as it runs through your fingers.

Autumn is the taste of smoke, as you sit by the fire.

Autumn is silence, nothing at all.

And lots of others.

We’ve also done Quinquan.


By Kezia.

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Instant Poems

I assume we are all getting the rain this morning. (It just became heavier when I wrote that!) I feel inspired to give you one of my poetry secrets – and rain is a good thing to write about.

I call these “Instant Poems” – because they’re quick to write and they get your brain working fast.

Line 1: (Use one of these choices…or something similar for the opening)

The rain falls…

The rain pours…

The rain comes down…

Line 2: Hint – this is where we think of something similar to the rain

Choose one of these examples, or one of your own: tears, overflowing tap, waterfall, river…

So if we choose waterfall, our first two lines could be…

The rain comes down

Like a waterfall tumbling over an invisible cliff…

Lines 3 and 4: This is where we brainstorm a waterfall (or whichever other similar thing we chose)

Waterfall brainstorm: rushing, thick, thunderous, hidden air pockets, heavy, loud, white out, never ending, incessant, persistent, wet, vertical, soaking etc

We can do anything with these words for lines 3 and 4. Here is an example of how we might use those words together

It thunders head first to its destination below,

Soaking everything in its path instantly

Line 5: This line is about you, your feelings or your wishes.

Start with: I wish, I feel, I think, I wonder, I want

Here are some possibilities:

I wish we could return to the dry sunny silence of yesterday.

I feel scared that it will never end.

I think the ground is a magnet for the rain.

I wonder if Heaven is crying.

I want to run outside and drink every drop.

Finally: here’s how our rain poem might look…

The rain comes down

Like a waterfall tumbling over an invisible cliff.

It thunders head first to its destination below,

Soaking everything in its path instantly

I think the ground is a magnet for the rain.

So, there you are. An instant poem about the rain. You can use this technique to write about anything in five lines.  I would love to read your instant poems!

Bye for now


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Seeing the Blue Between compiled by Paul B. Janeczko

Seeing the Blue Between is a book so packed full of inspiration that each individual page equals a new idea. Each part of the book has a letter from a famous poet to the reader, and one or two poems that the poet has written. I found each letter inspiring but in different ways. For instance, some encourage the use of crazy ideas, while others explain how to keep going and write more poetry. As for the poems themselves, I enjoyed them immensely, but I thought that some of the ones that rhymed were a little corny. Even so, I give this book a 9 out of 10. If you think that poetry books are boring, think again! Try reading this book and you may find that poetry is the thing for you. I think that both boys and girls of all ages would like this book.

By Tierney.

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A Pinch of Poetry – Grumpy Eyes by Michelle A. Taylor

I have grumpy eyes.
They should go back to sleep.
This morning woke up early
From all that counting sheep.

Night time is still dreaming
Somewhere in my bed.
And right behind my eyelids
Lies the day ahead…

By Michelle A. Taylor from her book If the World Belonged to Dogs.

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A Pinch of Poetry – Riddle by Lorraine Marwood

Two pieces of string
under one over one, tuck like an elbow
curve like a wing
meet in the middle.
Worms! Stop that wriggle.

Practice, practice
over under, through and through
tying laces
to get me places.

By Lorraine Marwood. Lorraine kindly sent us this poem for our blog. Check out her books including Ratwhiskers and Me, and Star jumps.

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A Pinch of Poetry – My Dog May Be a Genius by Jack Prelutsky

My dog may be a genius,
and in fact there’s little doubt.
He recognizes many words,
unless I spell them out.
If I so much as whisper “walk,”
he hurries off at once
to fetch his leash…it’s evident
my dog is not a dunce.

I can’t say “food” in front of him,
I spell f-o-o-d,
and he goes wild unless I spell
his t-r-e-a-t.
But recently this tactic
isn’t working out too well.
I think my d-o-g has learned
to s-p-e-l-l.

By Jack Prelutsky from his book My Dog May Be a Genius.

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A Pinch of Poetry – My Best Pal by Colin McNaughton

There’s a boy in our class
Name of Billy McMillan,
And everyone knows
He’s a bit of a villain.

My mum doesn’t like him,
No more does my dad,
They say he’s a hooligan;
This makes me mad.

Okay, so he’s scruffy
And hopeless at school,
But that doesn’t mean he’s
An absolute fool.

He’s brilliant at spitting,
And juggling with balls,
And no one can beat him
At peeing up walls.

He’s my best mate
And I think he’s just fine,
You can choose your friends,
And I will choose mine.

By Colin McNaughton from his book, There’s an Awful Lot of Weirdos in our Neighbourhood.

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Share your favourite poems and WIN Smiggle goodies

Cover imageFriday 3oth July is National Poetry Day in New Zealand so July is the perfect month to share some of your favourite poems.  I know lots of funny and silly poems that I loved as a kid and still love now because they make me laugh.  My favourite type of poems are the ones that rhyme because I think they’re more fun to read.  My favourite poet is Colin McNaughton whose books of poetry, There’s an Awful Lot or Weirdos in our Neighbourhood and Wish You Were Here (and I Wasn’t), include some of the funniest poems I’ve ever read. 

Throughout the rest of July I’ll be sharing some of my favourite poems right here on the blog and we want you to share some of your favourite poems with us too.  If you’ve written your own poems that you’d like to share it would be great to read these too.  The person who posts the best poem will win a prize pack of Smiggle goodies, including some pencils and a journal, so get posting your poems.  You can either add them as a comment on the bottom of this post or write your own blog post.  Just remember to add your first name  so that we can contact you if you win. 

The winner will be drawn on Friday 30 July and notified by email.

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