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Category: poetry Page 1 of 2

Tūhono: Submissions are Closed!

Well, folks, this is it — submissions for Tūhono, our inaugural poetry journal for children and teens, are officially over. We received nearly 200 valid entries, all of which are going to be included in the final publication.

At the moment, the editorial team is hard at work adding all of the poems into our design templates, and we’re super excited with how it’s looking! We thought we might share with you some of our favourite moments reading through the poems. One of the first entries that really stood out to us was this poem by Thyme, age 16. It’s called ‘Included Components: notes to my past self in the form of a contents list.’

CONTENTS:

ASSORTED COMPONENTS: BLOOD, CONNECTORS, BONES, ETC       Factory Settings: Standard. Possibility of inherited deficiency.
(blood tests aren’t as bad as you’d expect them to be, and you won’t regret getting them)

BRAIN, 1 COMPONENT           Factory Settings: Open to programming. Runs best when fully charged.
(you’ll want to be proud of this, and that’s fine, but remember it’s okay not to be the best. it’s okay to get lower marks. let yourself fail sometimes)

CHEST, RIBS, TORSO   Factory Settings: Standard Breathing. Growth in chest area expected and normal.
(you won’t like how it changes. look after your ribs when you work this out)

ARMS, 1 PAIR       Factory Settings: Standard Flexibility. Bones will remain malleable for approximately 12 years.
(you’ll break them three times, but don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt as much as you think. don’t worry about your first cast’s awful color – you’ll have plenty more opportunities)

LEGS, 1 PAIR         Factory Settings: Average Length, Standard Flexibility.
(you might not like these either, but understand there’s nothing wrong with them. standard sizing is frustrating but you will find yourself a pair of pants that fit properly)

EYES, 1 PAIR        Factory Settings: Slight Nearsightedness, Standard Cone Cells. Optic nerves also included.
(you’ll get them tested, and think that they’re okay, but don’t be afraid to test them again later. school is easier when you can read the board)

HANDS, 1 PAIR            Factory Settings: Standard Flexibility, Multiple Fingers, Opposable Thumbs. Useful for grasping.
(they won’t always feel like they belong to you – they do. they’ll learn to create nice things, and sometimes not so nice things as well, but I promise you the scratches will fade eventually

I can reveal that we’ve chosen this poem to open the collection — but it’s just one of literally hundreds of exceptional pieces of work from Wellingtonians aged 5-18 that are making their way onto the page, all of which explore in different ways what it means to be connected, whether that’s to yourself, to others, or to something that you can’t quite see or feel, but know is there. More updates are in the pipeline as we approach publication, so keep your eyes peeled!

Tūhono: Ideas to Kick-Start Your Poetical Musings

We’re now half-way through the month of November, which means we’re also half-way through the submission period for Tūhono, our new poetry journal for kids and teens! We’ve received so many radical entries already, but we’d love to have more. If you’re experiencing some writer’s block, or just aren’t sure where to start with your next poetical masterpiece, we thought we’d give you some starters here.

Your challenge is to take one of the following single lines of poetry and include it in your work, either at the beginning or the end. All of these lines come from real poems, but it’s totally fine to use them as inspiration or as a poetic springboard. If any of them speak to you, we really encourage you to read the full poem — most of them can be found in our collection:

  • Till human voices wake us, and we drown. (T.S. Eliot, ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)
  • He came home. Said nothing. (Wisława Szymborska, ‘Going Home’)
  • Petals on a wet, black bough (Ezra Pound, ‘In a Station of the Metro’)
  • I gazed–and gazed–but little thought (William Wordworth, ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’)
  • Here is no water but only rock (T.S. Eliot, ‘The Waste Land’)
  • Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold (W.B. Yeats, ‘The Second Coming’)
  • here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud (e.e. cummings, ‘[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]’)
  • This city, in plague time / knew our brief eternity (William Gibson, ‘Beloved: Voices for Three Heads’)
  • I eat men like air (Sylvia Plath, ‘Lady Lazarus’)
  • I am not the heterosexual neat freak my mother raised me to be. (Chen Chen, ‘Self-Portrait as So Much Potential’)
  • This city will always pursue you. (C.P. Cavafy, ‘The City’)
  • laughter for no cause, simply because the world is beautiful (Louise Glück, ‘Vita Nova’)
  • Maybe it’s time to stop swimming. (Porcupine Tree, ‘Stop Swimming’)
  • until the smallening world became absurd (e.e. cummings, ‘a clown’s smirk in the skull of a baboon’)
  • As light welled / that could devour water (Louise Glück, ‘The Egg’)

If you choose to put the line at the beginning, see how you can take the image and with each successive line, either expand on it, or confound it in some way. If you choose to put your quotation at the end, try to imagine what combination of images might lead up to that climactic point.

We can’t wait to see what you come up with. Don’t forget to submit your poems for Tūhono before the 30th of November to have them included in the inaugural publication!

Books to Help You Set Your Inner Poet Free!

If you’re as excited about Tūhono, our new poetry journal for young Wellington writers, as we are, you’ll have been working away furiously on your submission piece for weeks already. But we all need a bit of inspiration from time to time, so I asked the arcane sorcerers (and sorceresses) who stare into the metaphorical crystal ball of publisher summary releases and buy our books to choose some of their favourite poetry books from the YA collection for you to sink your claws into and extract whatever poetical life-force you need.

 Amen.

 

Some of these books come from the deepest, darkest depths of our collection warehouse — feel free to place a reserve, and our shelf-hopping minions will locate the book you crave and send it forth to whichever library location you choose. Some call it magic; we call it the Dewey Decimal System.


Poems to live your life by
In this gorgeous anthology, award-winning illustrator (and friend to libraries — yeah, we love this guy!) Chris Riddell has selected 46 poems to live your life by. Poems by both classic and modern poets sit alongside each other, including works from Shakespeare, Carol Anne Duffy, Neil Gaiman, Nick Cave, and W.B. Yeats. The poems are dividing into sections covering musings, youth, family, love, imagining, nature, war, and endings. A great place to start your poetic journey.


Poems to fall in love with / Riddell, Chris
Look, we admit it. We’re suckers for a good old love poem, okay? And we’re suckers for anything by Chris Riddell. This is, you guessed it, a whole anthology dedicated to LURRRVVVEEEE. Selected and edited by our boy Chris, this is another beautiful book that you won’t want to return to the library any time soon! Featuring classic love poems alongside more modern offerings, this book is an inspiring and heart-warming celebration of love in all its forms. <3


Overdrive cover SLAM! You’re Gonna Wanna Hear This, Nikita Gill (ebook)
If you’re not familiar with slam poetry, um, get enlightened, folks. It’s a form of performance poetry that combines elements of performance, writing, competition, and audience participation. In this eBook collection, Nikita Gill brings together a group of well-known and emerging poets from the spoken word scene who share their poetry and tips for creating awesome, inspiring, high energy slam poetry!


She is fierce : brave, bold and beautiful poems by women
This is a powerful collection of 150 poems written by women, that was published to celebrate the centenary of women’s suffrage. A range of different voices are represented — suffragettes, schoolgirls, slam poets, mothers, kitchen maids, and activists. We couldn’t recommend it more highly!


For everyone / Reynolds, Jason
This inspirational long-form poem was written and performed by Jason Reynolds as a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and Walter Dean Myers. Like the title says, though, it is for everyone — everyone who is a dreamer, who dreams of being more than they are, and wants to make their dreams come true. Sometimes your dreams take time to take shape. You just have to remember that sometimes, all it can take is a poem, a nod, a nothing to lose.


I thought I’d finish by sharing with you one of my favourite poems of all time, by the late, great Tom Leonard. Read it out loud — as all poetry should be read. Read it to someone you love. It just might change your life!

A Summer’s Day

yir eyes ur
eh
a mean yir

pirrit this wey
ah thingk yir
byewtifl like ehm

fact
fact a thingk yir
ach a luvyi thahts

thahts
jist thi wey it is like
thahts ehm
aw ther iz ti say

(© Tom Leonard, 1996)

Tūhono — We Want Your Poems!

We are excited to announce that Wellington City Libraries is launching its very own poetry journal for kids and teens — Tūhono! All throughout the month of November, we will be accepting submissions of poetry from young writers aged 5 – 18 in Wellington City. Unlike some other poetry journals, having your work accepted in Tūhono is not a competition — as long as you follow the rules of submission, every piece of work that gets submitted will be published. Tūhono itself — the collection of poetry from young people all over Wellington — will be published as an eBook on OverDrive, so that everyone with a library card can borrow it and bask in your talent and glory!

Let your poetic thoughts take wing!

Here is all the information you need to submit a poem for inclusion in Tūhono 2020:

When?

  • Submissions will be open from 1 – 30 November 2020.
  • The journal will be published and available to borrow from the library in December 2020.

Where?

  • Submissions for Tūhono have now closed.

Who?

  • Everyone between the ages of 5 and 18 who lives in the Wellington region may participate.

What?

  • Theme: We want you to write a poem on the theme of “Tūhono — Connection.” Exactly what this means to you is up to you — you could write about your family; friends; your connection with history or your place in the world; disconnection during lockdown — anything at all. We can’t wait to see what you create!
  • LengthYour poem should not be longer than one A4 page typed, with size 12 font and 1.5 line spacing. Only one poem per person will be accepted.
  • Language: Your poem may be written in English or te reo Māori.

Why?

  • We want to give all young people in Wellington the opportunity to have their work published in an accessible platform. We think everyone deserves a platform and the chance to see something they created be part of the library’s collection, alongside all the great authors and poets represented on our shelves. We hope that Tūhono grows into a uniquely Wellington collection of writing, capturing the thoughts and emotions of kids and teens from all over the city and region across time. We are so excited to see what you come up with!

Throughout the month of November, we will be posting regular updates providing inspiration for your writing — so keep your eyes peeled! If you would like more information about Tūhono, you are more than welcome to contact the editors here. Happy writing, everyone!

New Non-fiction for People Who Care About the World

Dear readers, we understand that you are people who care about things. We are also  people who care about things — things like racism, climate change, the environment, mental health, LGBTQ+ rights, art and poetry. The absolute wizards who buy books for our collections — those to whom we humble blog administrators must show all due deference — have certainly not stopped buying the good stuff during this whole pandemic situation. Here’s a selection of recently-added non-fiction for you to really sink your teeth into.

Stamped : racism, antiracism, and you. / Reynolds, Jason
“A book about race. The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited.” (Catalogue)

Stuff that’s loud : a teen’s guide to unspiralling when OCD gets noisy. / Sedley, Ben
“Do you have thoughts that seem loud? Do your worries spiral out of control and then suck you in? Do intrusive thoughts show up and make you scared of doing certain things – or not doing things – a certain way? Do you ever get a feeling like something bad might happen? Does this loud stuff make you feel alone, or worse, crazy?

First, you aren’t alone – even if it sometimes feels that way. And second, you are not crazy. But you might be struggling with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). And while OCD can be difficult, you don’t have to let it have power over you. Instead, you can live a life full of meaning, great relationships and joy with the help of this book. Life doesn’t have to stay stuck any longer.” (Catalogue)

Pandemic : how climate, the environment, and superbugs increase the risk / Goldsmith, Connie
“How close are we to having another worldwide health crisis? Pandemic epidemiologists have identified one they believe is likely to happen in the next couple decades: the flu. Learn about factors that contribute to the spread of disease by examining past pandemics and epidemics, including the Bubonic Plague, smallpox Ebola, HIV/AIDS, and Zika. Examine case studies of potential pandemic diseases, like SARS and cholera, and find out how pathogens and antibiotics work. See how human activities such as global air travel and the disruption of animal habitats contribute to the risk of a new pandemic. And discover how scientists are striving to contain and control the spread of disease, both locally and globally.” (Catalogue)

Have pride : an inspirational history of the LGBTQ+ movement / Caldwell, S. A.
“Have Pride gives an honest, chronological account of how life has changed for LGBTQ+ people and sheds light on the people that brought about this change. The heartfelt stories of LGBTQ+ revolutionaries are better understood as you realise what a revolutionary act it was to live openly as an LGBTQ+ person. In this book there is no hiding from the dark chapters of history and the persecution people faced for being true to who they were. But like Fred Rogers’ mother suggested, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people helping”, Have Pride highlights the LGBTQ+ heroes who ‘helped’ others, pushed for change and inspire pride in ourselves and our history.” (Extract from publisher review)

Hypnopompia: the thoughts of dawning minds : Re-draft’s 19th collection of writing by New Zealand’s young adults
The 19th in the brilliant Re-Draft series, Hypnopompia brings together New Zealand’s very best young writers in yet another dazzling collection. Wake up to the new world as seen by the most talented of our post-millennial writers. The 80 young writers featured in the collection have grown up with the century and Hypnopompia is their very woke report card on its perplexities, perils, passions and never ending variety. At times funny, at times dark, always engaging, their stories and poems are never less than perceptive and open-eyed. (Publisher summary)

Imaginary borders / Martinez, Xiuhtezcatl
“Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists. In this installment, Earth Guardians Youth Director and hip-hop artist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez shows us how his music feeds his environmental activism and vice versa. Martinez visualizes a future that allows us to direct our anger, fear, and passion toward creating change. Because, at the end of the day, we all have a part to play.” (Catalogue)

Trans+ : love, sex, romance, and being you / Gonzales, Kathryn
Trans+ is a growing-up guide for teens who are transgender, nonbinary, gender-nonconforming, or gender-fluid. This book explores gender identity, gender expression, gender roles, and how these all combine and play out as gender in the world. Includes chapters on medical, health, and legal issues as well as relationships, family, and sex.” (Catalogue)

From the Vaults III: Around the World

So far in our From the Vaults series, highlighting the niftiest of nifty collections held primarily in the Central collection in Johnsonville, we’ve heard about LGBTQ+ manga and had a delicious expose on some of our favourite Māori authors. Did you know that the library also holds a huge collection of books in different world languages?

That’s right: we have everything from the usual suspects (français, español, Deutsch, 汉语) to the slightly more niche (Tiếng Việt, русский, Türkçe, Tagalog) to the even nichier still (αρχαία ελληνικά, Cymraeg, српски, עִבְרִית‎). All up, there are about 40 languages (other than English and te reo Māori) with significant chunks of shelf-space represented in our collection: a polyglot’s dream. Check out our World Languages master list to find out what we have and where.

Whether you speak a different language at home, are learning one for school, or are just a general language and linguistics nerd (we know you’re out there!), let us know what you want and the finest librarians in the land will scurry to the shelves, squint at the spines of the book, figure out whether what they’re looking at is Sinhalese, Tamil or Gujarati, and send the book of your desires to whichever of our 14 locations is most convenient to you. Sound sweet? Oh yeah, it is.

While you’re at it, why not check out our selection of language-learning databases? Duolingo is great, but your library card gives you access to a huge range of options — dive in now! You can also check out publications, newspapers and magazines in over 60 languages over on PressReader, and there are also heaps of resources available on OverDrive, both for foreign language study and, if you’re learning Chinese, a large amount of Chinese fiction and nonfiction for your delectation.

Now, this wouldn’t be a From the Vaults post without some recommendations. You’ll have to forgive me for selecting only from the languages I speak (Greek and Latin, really — I think you see where this is going) — let us know what languages you speak below, and we’ll see what we can find for you!

Collected poems / Cavafy, Constantine
As far as Greek poets from the modern era go, you can’t go past the extraordinary Egyptian-Greek poet C. P. Cavafy (Κ. Π. Καβάφης). This book is a collection of his complete works in Greek and English on facing pages, spanning several decades from the 1880s to the early 1930s. His work is almost indescribably sublime — by turns nihilistic and sparking with a manic energy; dreamily, hazily introspective and bursting from the page to club you around the head with its intensity. His explorations of queer love and romance are also to die for, and very much ahead of his time. Even if you don’t speak Greek, y’all should read this, like, yesterday. Here’s a sample to whet your poetic appetite; a ghostly evocation of a city and a mind in sympathetic ruin:

You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.
This city will always pursue you.
You’ll walk the same streets, grow old
in the same neighborhoods, turn gray in these same houses.
You’ll always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere:
there’s no ship for you, there’s no road.
Now that you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,

you’ve destroyed it everywhere in the world.

Καινούργιους τόπους δέν θά βρείς, δέν θάβρεις άλλες θάλασσες.
‘Η πόλις θά σέ ακολουθεί. Στούς δρόμους θά γυρνάς
τούς ίδιους. Καί στές γειτονιές τές ίδιες θά γερνάς
καί μές στά ίδια σπίτια αυτά θ’ ασπρίζεις.
Πάντα στήν πόλι αυτή θά φθάνεις. Γιά τά αλλού – μή ελπίζεις –
δέν έχει πλοίο γιά σέ, δέν έχει οδό.
Έτσι πού τή ζωή σου ρήμαξες εδώ

στήν κώχη τούτη τήν μικρή, σ’ όλην τήν γή τήν χάλασες.

— From C. P. Cavafy, “The City.” (1894)

Three classical poets : Sappho, Catullus and Juvenal. / Jenkyns, Richard
Okay, you knew from the general nerdy tone of this post that we’d end up in classical territory eventually. And this book bears the distinction of preventing three of the coolest classical poets in their original languages with some pretty dazzling English translations alongside. Sappho, of course, wrote in Greek and was one of the earliest known female poets whose work has survived to the present day. And oh boy, has it survived — her work is vital, breathless, exciting and alluring. Catullus and Juvenal both wrote in Latin — the former is probably the sassiest poet ever to have lived (and also one of the most soul-bendingly gorgeous lyrical poets as well), while the latter delighted in satire — his subject was The Human Experience. There’s plenty to enjoy with these three poets — scoop them up now for your reading pleasure!

New Books on a Shelf Near You!

Now that some of our libraries are back open to the world, the new books are flowing back onto the shelves as our cataloguers, hidden away in the deepest recesses of the library, work their way through their backlog. Here are some of my favourite highlights among the recent additions to our YA collections:

19 love songs / Levithan, David
{LGBTQ+, romance, short stories, verse}
A collection of funny, warm and heartfelt stories exploring queer love and identity from award-winning YA author David Levithan. A resentful member of a high school Quiz Bowl team with an unrequited crush. A Valentine’s Day in the life of Every Day‘s protagonist “A.” A return to the characters of Two Boys Kissing. Born from Levithan’s tradition of writing a story for his friends each Valentine’s Day, this collection brings all of them to his readers for the first time. With fiction, nonfiction, and a story in verse, there’s something for every reader here. Witty, romantic, and honest, teens (and adults) will come to this collection not only on Valentine’s Day, but all year round. (Catalogue)

Beware the night / Fleck, Jessika
{dystopian, religion, politics, science fiction}
On the island of Bellona, they worship the sun. Seventeen-year-old Veda understands that keeping the sun content ensures plentiful crops, peace and harmony, and a thriving economy. But as a member of the Basso class, she never reaps those benefits. Life as a Basso is one fraught with back-breaking work and imposing rules. Her close friendship with Nico is Veda’s one saving grace in a cruel world where the division between her people and the ruling Dogio is as wide and winding as the canals that snake through their island. But when Veda’s grandfather is chosen as the next sacrificial offering to keep the sun’s favor, Veda is forced to see the injustice of her world. Turning away from the sun means she must join the night–and an underground revolution she’s been taught to fear all her life. (Catalogue)

The deceivers / Simmons, Kristen
{drama, intrigue, politics, school}
Welcome to Vale Hall, the school for aspiring con artists. When Brynn Hilder is recruited to Vale, it seems like the elite academy is her chance to start over, away from her mom’s loser boyfriend and her rundown neighborhood. But she soon learns that Vale chooses students not so much for their scholastic talent as for their extracurricular activities, such as her time spent conning rich North Shore kids out of their extravagant allowances. At first, Brynn jumps at the chance to help the school in its mission to rid the city of corrupt officials–because what could be better than giving entitled jerks what they deserve? But that’s before she meets her mark–a senator’s son–and before she discovers the school’s headmaster has secrets he’ll stop at nothing to protect. As the lines between right and wrong blur, Brynn begins to realize she’s in way over head. (Catalogue)

The electric heir / Lee, Victoria
{dystopian, LGBTQ+, pandemics, science fiction}
Six months after Noam Álvaro helped overthrow the despotic government of Carolinia, the Atlantians have gained citizenship, and Lehrer is chancellor. But despite Lehrer’s image as a progressive humanitarian leader, Noam has finally remembered the truth that Lehrer forced him to forget — that Lehrer is responsible for the deadly magic infection that ravaged Carolinia. Now that Noam remembers the full extent of Lehrer’s crimes, he’s determined to use his influence with Lehrer to bring him down for good. If Lehrer realizes Noam has evaded his control — and that Noam is plotting against him — Noam’s dead. Meanwhile Dara Shirazi returns to Carolinia, his magic stripped by the same vaccine that saved his life. But Dara’s attempts to ally himself with Noam prove that their methods for defeating Lehrer are violently misaligned. Dara fears Noam has only gotten himself more deeply entangled in Lehrer’s web. Sooner or later, playing double agent might cost Noam his life. (Catalogue)

Every other weekend / Johnson, Abigail
{grief, realistic fiction, romance}
Adam Moynihan’s life used to be awesome. Straight As, close friends and a home life so perfect that it could have been a TV show straight out of the 50s. Then his oldest brother died. Now his fun-loving mom cries constantly, he and his remaining brother can’t talk without fighting, and the father he always admired proved himself a coward by moving out when they needed him most. Jolene Timber’s life is nothing like the movies she loves–not the happy ones anyway. With her divorced parents at each other’s throats and using her as a pawn, no amount of mental reediting will give her the love she’s starving for. Forced to spend every other weekend in the same apartment building, the boy who thinks forgiveness makes him weak and the girl who thinks love is for fools begin an unlikely friendship. The weekends he dreaded and she endured soon become the best part of their lives. But when one’s life begins to mend while the other’s spirals out of control, they realize that falling in love while surrounded by its demise means nothing is ever guaranteed (Catalogue)

Harley in the sky / Bowman, Akemi Dawn
{coming-of-age, drama, family}
Harley Milano has dreamed of becoming a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her heart and soul that she would be up there herself one day. After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family, and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Myst re. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion, and collaboration. At the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past–and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams. (Catalogue)

Infinity son / Silvera, Adam
{brothers, fantasy, LGBTQ+, superheroes}
Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures. Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day. Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be. Brotherhood, love, and loyalty will be put to the test, and no one will escape the fight unscathed. (Author Summary)

The midnight lie / Rutkoski, Marie
{fantasy, LGBTQ+, romance}
Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences. Nirrim keeps her head down, and a dangerous secret close to her chest. But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away, who whispers rumors that the High Kith possess magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted. (Catalogue)

Doing Classics at School? We got ya!

So, school is still a thing? Right?! I’m betting it is pretty hard to do school stuff from home as well as be around your family/bubble crew all day, as well as deal with what’s going on in the world. Lots of stuff happening, we can all agree. As I’m sure you know your teachers are doing everything they can in these hard times to keep your education ticking so be sure to say a massive thank you to the teachers in your life whenever you get a chance!

I thought I would put together a list of resources for anyone who is a CLASSICS student and is studying The Big Three.

Zeus, Poseidon and Hades, you ask?… (remembering the good ‘ol days of Percy Jackson)

No. The Odyssey, The Iliad and The Aeneid. These are three really common texts for senior High School Classics students to come across. If you’re doing something else at school -I’m sorry!- I’ll include some general resources in the bottom of this post.

Note: just like Shakespeare there are lots of different versions of ancient texts, with different page numbers, line numbers and even order of events. If you remember that a lot of these works are actually works of epic poetry it makes sense that depending on interpretation there might be quite different methods of presentation.  Remembering that some of it is poetry helps with reading it too, stick to the beat and rhyme rather than getting caught up in all the particulars and then later on go back and look up individual words you need to.

So: Check with your teacher what version of the text you are meant to be using!!!

Also: Heads up! Lots of ancient texts contain stories and imagery of violence and sexual violence, so look after yourself and check ratings of stuff (or avoid it completely if you need, talk to your teacher) if you are watching film versions.


Odyssey / Homer

Overdrive coverMini bio: Odysseus, after fighting in the Trojan War, tries to return back home to Ithaca and his wife Penelope, but because a lot of weird stuff happens to him, it takes ten years…you heard that right: ten years! 

  • This is a foundational example of a heroes quest.         
  • Odysseus is repeatedly shown to have the traits of Ancient Greek heroism through the ways that he defeats and overcomes the trials/tasks of his journey.
  • This story has been incredibly influential on storytelling since and is considered a fundamental text in our understanding of the time and ideas around manhood, heroism and what a quest is. In the end this is ultimately an adventure romp with villains, monsters, hot women with ulterior motives and a fair bit of magic.
  • In the context of this time and story, Odysseus’ decisions (somehow including the seven year fling) are meant to show that he is ultimately faithful to his his wife and overcomes temptation. I know, I know…MASSIVE double standards for men and women around sex and marriage… but back then they thought he did good!

The Iliad / Homer

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Wee bit back in time from The Odyssey. Essentially a prequel to it with overlapping characters but different leads. Takes place during the Trojan War.

Mini bio: This book is set in the final weeks of the Trojan War, which if you think about it it a pretty interesting plot device, to start at the end of something. Lots of previous events are spoken of and implied but not shown. Essentially the Greeks are surrounding Troy because Paris, a prince of Troy took Menelaus, the King of Sparta’s wife Helen back with him from Greece to Troy. She is ‘the most beautiful woman in the world blah blah blah.’ Spoiler: the Greek side wins because of the horse, you know the rest. It’s in pop culture big time.

Featuring famous characters like: our old friend Odysseus, Achilles, Hector, Paris, Helen, many other mortals and a whole bunch of gods such as Zeus, Hera, Athena, Aphrodite…

If you want to see a film version of this with some seriously famous leads watch 2004’s TROY. Not a substitute for reading the text, the plot varies a bit, but a pretty fun movie.


The Aeneid / Virgil

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While the other two are GREEK stories this one is ROMAN. This story is written to detail the story of the founding of Rome. So basically when the Greeks storm Troy via a very crafty wooden horse, most of the Trojans are killed but Aeneas gets together a group of survivors who escape and sail out of Troy go on an adventure and eventually make it to Italy where he founds Rome. Dido, who is the Queen of Carthage falls in love with Aeneas for a period, eventually the gods remind him of his destiny and he leaves her to continue on his journey to Italy.

Importantly this story has as much to do with the Roman politician and ruler at the time, AUGUSTUS, as it does the foundation of Rome. There are constantly parallels made between Augustus and Aeneas and the Roman political state of the time this text was being written. It can be understood as political propaganda in this way, a statement and praise of Virgil’s political moment in time. This said, Virgil’s motives and ideas are not that straightforward and he also uses this text to comment negatively on the politics of his time, it’s a double whammy.


In summary

Episode one: The Iliad, The Greek armies win the war against Troy with a wooden horse. Lots of other stuff happens.

Episode two: The Odyssey, Odysseus takes a really ridiculously long amount of time to get home after fighting in the Trojan War. He does get home eventually. Lots of stuff happens.

Episode three (takes place at the same time as The Odyssey, kind of in a wiggly ancient history way, well at least starts after the Trojan War like The Odyssey): The Aeneid, Aeneas takes a really ridiculously long time to get to Italy and found Rome after he escapes from Troy after the Trojan War. Lots of other stuff happens.

If you want to learn things and read something entertaining check out Stephen Fry’s Mythos and Heroes! For something less serious, Courtney Carbone’s Greek Gods (#squadgoals) really hits the spot.

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Who Are We Really?

Dear readers, none have asked, but some may have wondered: who are the strange and wonderful people who write for this illustrious publication? Look no further. We’ve delved deep underground, into the very lairs of these mysterious bloggers, and we’ve brought forth poetic riches the likes of which have never been seen. That’s right, I forced them all to write haiku about themselves to introduce themselves to you! In alphabetical order, no less. Here goes.

First we have the ever-wise B. Spinach. When she’s not tirelessly working the fields to bring more of that herbaceous delight into her house and onto her plate, she can be found somewhere in the pages of Louis Sachar’s The Cardturner:

Aspires to paint a
mural, but so far just makes
tiny paper planes.

Next is the indomitable Catherine, whose book-treat of choice is Margaret Mahy’s The Tricksters:

I had to write a
haiku; this is the result.
Let’s all blame Stephen.

Truly moving. Next up is the enigmatic Maiph. Purveyor of knitted goods and slayer of the leviathan, their literary musings chiefly concern the excellent The Owl Service by Alan Garner, and their inscrutable poetic waxings and wanings are represented below:

Inscrutable, yet
easily scruted when I
am tangled in yarn.

Finally, it is I, Stephen, your humble administrator. The title that sparks the most joy for me currently is Benjamin Alire Saenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe:

Moonlight falls softly
upon a nerd; He sleeps, eats,
but mostly he sleeps.

You, too, can write a haiku. Or a novel. Join us over at our online creative writing group at the NaNoWriMo Young Writers’ Programme (classroom code is CWRNJDZH), and don’t forget to join our Discord once you get in!

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe watch that ends the night, Allan Wolf

On Sunday, April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic, the largest and most luxurious ship in the world, is 1,400 miles out to sea. More than two thousand men, women, and children are on board. In the distance, shrouded in darkness, an ancient iceberg lies in wait. In dozens of voices-from the unsinkable Molly Brown to the captain who went down with the ship, from a young boy in search of dragons to a gambler in search of fools with money to lose, from the ship’s rats to the iceberg itself-poet Allen Wolf offers a breathtaking, intimate recreation of that fateful night. (Cover summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFamous in a small town, Emma Mills

For Sophie, small town life has never felt small. With her four best friends–loving, infuriating, and all she could ever ask for–she can weather any storm. But when Sophie’s beloved Acadia High School marching band is selected to march in the upcoming Rose Parade, it’s her job to get them all the way to LA. Her plan? To persuade country singer Megan Pleasant, their Midwestern town’s only claim to fame, to come back to Acadia to headline a fundraising festival. The only problem is that Megan has very publicly sworn never to return.

What ensues is a journey filled with long-kept secrets, hidden heartbreaks, and revelations that could change everything–along with a possible fifth best friend: a new guy with a magnetic smile and secrets of his own. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe truth about lies, Tracy Darnton

Jess has an incredible memory. She can remember every single detail of every single day since she was eleven. But Jess would rather not be remarkable and, after years of testing at the hands of a ruthless research team, she has finally managed to escape. Just when Jess thinks that she’s managing to settle in to living a normal life, everything changes. Her boarding-school roommate dies and the school is thrown into a state of chaos and grief. Then new boy Dan appears and Jess can’t help but find herself drawn to him. But building relationships is hard when you can’t reveal who you really are and Jess is getting hints that someone knows more about her than she would like. Is it time to run again? Will she ever be truly free? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe anger of angels, Sherryl Jordan

In a world where it is a crime to speak against injustice, a jester dares to perform a play that enrages a powerful tyrant prince. The jester’s daughter, Giovanna, must journey into the heart of danger to turn back the terrible consequences unleashed by her father’s words – and becomes entangled in a treacherous plot to overthrow the prince. She alone holds a secret which, if made public, will overthrow the prince and liberate his oppressed people. Will she have the courage to speak out? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNowhere on Earth, Nick Lake

Sixteen-year-old Emily and her little brother Aidan are onboard a plane bound for Anchorage. When the plane crashes, both kids and the pilot barely escape with their lives and are left to fight for survival in the Alaskan wilderness. But there is worse to come – Emily and Aidan are being chased, and their shady, unknown pursuers are closing in. As the kids go on the run, Emily finds herself in greater danger than she could have imagined. Because nothing in her life is what it seems – not even the things she holds dearest of all…(Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDeadly by design, Carina Axelsson

When a new case lands on Axelle Anderson’s London doorstep, the stylish sleuth can’t resist strapping on the heels and snapping on the shades to track down whoever attacked fashion photographer Gavin. But what’s the deal with the memory stick full of mysterious photos? Can Axelle discover the secret they contain and stop a killer in his tracks? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOn the come up, Angie Thomas

This is the highly anticipated second novel by Angie Thomas, the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling, award-winning The Hate U Give. Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral…for all the wrong reasons. Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it–she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be. Insightful, unflinching, and full of heart, On the Come Up is an ode to hip hop from one of the most influential literary voices of a generation. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; and about how, especially for young black people, freedom of speech isn’t always free. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe vanishing stair, Maureen Johnson

Stevie Bell seemed to be on the cusp of the decades-old kidnapping and murder of Albert Ellingham’s family. But a classmate’s murder– which Stevie solved– convinced her parents to pull her out of Ellingham Academy. Then politician Edward King arrives at her house to offer a deal: he will bring Stevie back to Ellingham if she will play nice with his son, David, a fellow classmate. King is in the midst of a campaign and can’t afford his son stirring up trouble. Stevie knows she can solve the riddles behind the Ellingham murders, but discovers that moving forward will mean hurting someone she cares for. (Book jacket)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSong of the dead, Sarah Glenn Marsh

Karthia is nothing like it used to be. The kingdom’s borders are open for the first time in nearly three hundred years, and raising the dead has been outlawed. Odessa is determined to explore the world beyond Karthia’s waters, hoping to heal a heart broken in more ways than she can count. But with Meredy joining the ocean voyage, vanquishing her sorrow will be a difficult task. Despite the daily reminder of the history they share, Odessa and Meredy are fascinated when their journey takes them to a land where the Dead rule the night and dragons roam the streets. Odessa can’t help being mesmerized by the new magic–and by the girl at her side. But just as she and Meredy are beginning to explore the new world, a terrifying development in Karthia summons them home at once. Growing political unrest on top of threats from foreign invaders means Odessa and Meredy are thrust back into the lives they tried to leave behind while specters from their past haunt their tenuous relationship. Gathering a force big enough to ward off enemies seems impossible, until one of Queen Valoria’s mages creates a weapon that could make them invincible. As danger continues to mount inside the palace, Odessa fears that without the Dead, even the greatest invention won’t be enough to save their fates. In this enthralling, heartrending sequel to Reign of the Fallen, Odessa faces the fight of her life as the boundaries between the Dead and the living are challenged in a way more gruesome than ever before. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA curse so dark and lonely, Brigid Kemmerer

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope. Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world. Break the curse, save the kingdom. A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall…and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsKing of scars, Leigh Bardugo

Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war–and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army. Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried–and some wounds aren’t meant to heal. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMud, Emily Thomas

It’s 1979 and thirteen-year-old Lydia has no idea how she’ll cope when her dad announces that the family has to sell up and move onto a Thames sailing barge in Essex. With his girlfriend and her three kids. Between trying to keep her clothes dry in a leaky cabin, disastrous hair-dye attempts, awkward encounters with local boys, and coping with her suddenly enormous and troublesome family, Lydia fears she’ll sink rather than swim. At turns heartbreaking and uplifting, through Lydia’s innocent and perceptive voice we find out that while the mud may stick, the tide can turn – and in unexpected and joyful ways. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsChaos, Sarah Fine

With Juri in control and everything in absolute chaos, Lela plunges into the depths of hell to free Malachi from creatures that have waited decades to exact their revenge. But the Judge has her own way of doing things, and Lela must work with Ana, the new Captain, who has a very personal mission of her own. Together, they infiltrate the most horrifying realm either has yet encountered in the Shadowlands–the bitter landscape ruled by the Mazikin. The stakes could not be higher, and Lela must accept the help–and love–of people she barely knows or trusts. As alliances and loyalties shift and she realizes the soul she came to save isn’t the only one in need of rescue, can Lela summon the strength to see the fight through to the very end? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCircle of shadows, Evelyn Skye

Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied around his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas–marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona. As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging in the elite group–but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark. So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group. Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever–and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved. Love, spies, and adventure abound as Sora and Daemon unravel a complex web of magic and secrets that might tear them–and the entire kingdom–apart. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsImprison the sky, A.C Gaughgen

Aspasia, an Elementae who controls air, was stolen from her family as a child. She captains her own trading vessel– and risks it all every time she uses magic to free as many women, children, and Elementae from slavery as she can. Cyrus knows Aspasia is searching for her lost family– and is now searching for them himself. With a war brewing, will Aspasia’s power alone be enough to save her friends, family, and freedom? (Book jacket)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDear heartbreak: YA authors and teens on the dark side of love, edited by Heather Demetrios

In this powerful collection, well-known YA authors answer real letters from teens all over the world about the dark side of love: cheating, betrayals, break-ups, dating violence, and loneliness. This book contains a raw, no-holds-barred outpouring of the wisdom these authors have culled from mining their own hearts for the fiction they write. Their responses are autobiographical, unflinching, and filled with love and hope for the anonymous teen letter writers. (Book jacket)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFor everyone, Jason Reynolds

Originally performed at the Kennedy Center for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and later as a tribute to Walter Dean Myers, this stirring and inspirational poem is New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds’s rallying cry to the dreamers of the world. For Every One is just that: for every one. For every one person. For every one dream. But especially for every one kid. The kids who dream of being better than they are. Kids who dream of doing more than they almost dare to dream. Kids who are like Jason Reynolds, a self-professed dreamer. Jason does not claim to know how to make dreams come true; he has, in fact, been fighting on the front line of his own battle to make his own dreams a reality. He expected to make it when he was sixteen. Then eighteen. Then twenty-five. Now, some of those expectations have been realized. But others, the most important ones, lay ahead, and a lot of them involve kids, how to inspire them. All the kids who are scared to dream, or don’t know how to dream, or don’t dare to dream because they’ve never seen a dream come true. Jason wants kids to know that dreams take time. They involve countless struggles. But no matter how many times a dreamer gets beat down, the drive and the passion and the hope never fully extinguish–because just having the dream is the start you need, or you won’t get anywhere anyway, and that is when you have to take a leap of faith. (Publisher summary)

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