Kia ora! Many thanks and a massive congratulations to all of you who submitted poems to Tūhono, our new poetry journal for children and teens in Wellington. Altogether we had about 200 poems, all of which are going into the final book, which is currently being put together by our talented editorial team! We’ll let you know when it’s all ready to read.
While you’re waiting for the book to arrive on the shelves (or on your screens, if you use the eLibrary), we thought we’d share with you three of our favourite poems written by kids that are going into the book. As you’ll see, they all explored the theme of “tūhono — connection” very differently indeed!
The first poem, View from Matiu Somes, is by Isla, age 11. We were super excited by Isla’s exploration of the connection between place and history, and the powerfully evocative images she uses to paint a picture of how our perception of Matiu/Somes Island is changed by the forces of nature, the events of history, and our emotional reactions to those things. Here’s Isla’s poem:
View From Matiu Somes
White horses tip the waves
But inevitably will collapse
Under the weight of the tide.
I know they are destined
to wreck themselves
on the shoreline.
The only light blazing
from a crocheted throw of
stars placed precisely on a
pitch-black midnight sky.
Thick metal bars cut
across my line of sight.
The thick stench of grime
and urine fills my nostrils.
Brusque voices ring down
Are they coming for me?
My hands, covered in blue, purple bruises
and raw cuts from
Moving heavy rocks from one
side of the island to the other.
We are building roads
I will never use.
I hate this place.
— Isla, age 11
Our next poem is by Ronan, age 5, and is called My Butterfly Journey. Ronan’s delightful poem imagines what life would be like as a caterpillar, then a cocoon, then a butterfly, and teaches us a lot about the connections we experience at different stages of our lives:
My Butterfly Journey
I can’t move
I’m in a chrysalis
I will have butterfly powers when I come out
I will go where the butterflies go
I will lay eggs
Then I will die
The caterpillar will do the journey back home
— Ronan, age 5
The third poem we wanted to highlight is simply entitled connection, and is written by Jericho, age 11. Jericho’s powerful tūhono with music is so inspiring to read about, and his use of language is always fresh, exciting, and evocative:
I have a connection to music,
as if it’s a part my life,
as it follows the beat of my heart,
over and over again.
It lives deep inside me,
it burns inside my heart,
as an eternal flame,
raging on inside of me.
It shocks my soul
It runs thru my body,
It harmonises my life,
As if when I listen to it
all fear and pain go away.
Music electrifies my very existence.
— Jericho, age 11
The fourth poem is by Elena, age 7, and is called Two Birds. We loved this quirky poem that contrasts two very different characters — and in doing so, draws connections between them:
My early bird has wings that shine like butter
My early bird has wings that flutter
My early bird has a body pictured like the pale morning sky
My early bird can fly so high
It can touch the moon
My late bird is cocooned up in its warm cosy nest
My late bird likes to sleep in and rest
My late bird sleeps until spring
Wow my late bird really needs an alarm clock – BING!
— Elena, age 7
The last poem we are highlighting today is called The Verselet Tree by Amelia, age 9. We thought this poem did a really fantastic job of writing about writing itself — not the easiest thing to do — and really excelled at finding a connection between a physical place and the mental and emotional state of feeling creative and inspired enough to write a poem. It really speaks to the whole point of Tūhono in the first place! Ka rawe, Amelia.
The Verselet Tree
Wise, knowing and smart,
When I sit beneath you I feel safe,
warm and comforted this feeling makes me want to drift off in a slow and steady sleep,
but before I do, a thought comes to my mind,
the thought grows as I sleep,
When I wake the thought has formed into a poem.
As I wander home,
I think of the poem and decide to write it down,
And then I will go back and get another poem from you.
— Amelia, age 9