Tūhono: Some More of Our Favourites!

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.
Glimmering prisms.

Thick metal bars cut
across my line of sight.
The thick stench of grime
and urine fills my nostrils.
Brusque voices ring down
the corridor.
Are they coming for me?

I’m shaking.
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 JourneyRonan’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 connectionand 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 BirdsWe loved this quirky poem that contrasts two very different characters — and in doing so, draws connections between them:

Two Birds

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

Need Help Writing Your Poem for Tūhono?

Kia ora! We have loved receiving all of your entries so far for Tūhono, our brand new poetry journal for young Wellington writers! If you need a refresher on what Tūhono is, feel free to check out our first blog post about it.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting some useful tips and tricks on writing poetry on this blog, to help you with your submission! We thought we would start by recommending some really good books you can borrow from our libraries that are all about how to write poetry, and what poetry is all about. Big thanks to Stephanie, the wonderful librarian who buys all of our books for children and teenagers, for putting this list together for us!

How to write poems / Coelho, Joseph
Our first books is packed with exciting activities and starting points to get you creating your own poetic masterpieces! This book is really great for beginners as well as more experienced poets. There are many different types of poetry covered in this comprehensive ‘how to’ guide. If you want to reserve it, you can click on the book’s title, and then the orange “Place Reserve” button — then just choose which library you would like to collect the book from!

What is poetry? : the essential guide to reading & writing poems / Rosen, Michael
Michael Rosen is a well-known and popular British poet. In this book, he draws on his many years of experience to share information and tips on how you can become a poet too. What makes this book especially interesting is that he takes the time to walk you through a number of his own poems, explaining how and why he wrote them. Understanding the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of poetry is really important if you want to write your own some day!

Jabberwalking / Herrera, Juan Felipe
What exactly is ‘Jabberwalking’? The author Juan Felipe Herrera (a well-known American poet) explains that jabberwalking poets aim to create something that’s not like a typical poem. To be a jabberwalking poet you must move and write at the same time! You must write everything that comes into your head — things you see, things you hear, and things you feel. The challenge then is to interpret all your scribbles and turn them into a poem. This is an incredibly creative and unusual way to craft a weird, wild poem — just the kind of poetry we’d love to see in Tūhono.

The Usborne creative writer’s handbook / Daynes, Katie
This super useful handbook covers many different forms of creative writing, including a useful section on poetry. You will find though that much of the advice you can find throughout this books is relevant to crafting poems — for example, coming up with ideas, planning, grammar, and punctuation. With this book in your poetic toolbelt, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a super successful writer!