Wellington City Libraries

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Teen Blog

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Category: Writing Page 1 of 7

Matariki Short Story Competition with Lingogo!

You said there was a writing competition?

Yes indeed! Fancy yourself a bit of a language aficionado? Our friends at Lingogo are running a Matariki Short Story Competition for rangatahi aged 13-18 around the country. The winner gets a $500 Prezzy card, plus gets published on the Lingogo app! Your story must be on the theme of Matariki, and be less than 500 words, and may be in English or te reo Māori, but other than that, all the creative stuff is down to you!

Start writing now for your chance to win — entries close at midnight on the 30th of June, but there’s still plenty of time to get in those submissions. In their words, “you could be flying into the Māori new year as a published author with some extra moolah in your pocket!” Check out all the deets, and submit your story, here. And if you’re in the mood for inspiration, check out some of our previous posts on the topic of creative writing here!

Wait, so what is Lingogo again?

We’re glad you asked! Lingogo is a library app developed in Aotearoa that provides access to a wide range of dual-language Māori and Pacific stories with audio. It’s awesome for beginner and intermediate language learners as well as fluent speakers. You can simply tap any sentence to listen to it spoken aloud and find its English translation, so it’s super easy and intuitive to use. It’s one of the best tools out there to get clued up about indigenous story and language, so get amongst!

Get started with Lingogo by visiting our eLibrary page here, or you can find the app on the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. We reckon Lingogo is pretty awesome, so we’re keen for you to give it a go!

Ready or Not, Let’s Get Writing!

This time next week people from around the world will be working on novels – moreso than there normally are. Some have been planning for weeks, others are jumping in with only a vague collection of ideas. Some have targets of 50,000 words; others 10,000. They’re writing contemporary YA, adult scifi, children’s fantasy, adult romance, and many more genres besides. But whether it’s their first novel or their twenty-first, these people all have something in common.

They’re all participating in Camp NaNoWrimo.

An off-shoot of the famous National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short), Camp NaNoWriMo challenges people to get that novel out of their heads and onto the page. But unlike the stricter classic NaNoWriMo, where to win you have to write 50,000 words of a new draft, Camp NaNoWriMo lets you set your own goals and even work on an existing draft. Need that one bit of motivation to get the last 10,000 words out? Camp NaNo! Just want to get past that middle part? Camp NaNo! Want to write alongside people from all around the world, but think 50,000 is too big a target or you’ve got exams in November? CAMP NANO!

Last year some staff and a bunch of teen readers leaped into Camp NaNo, as something to do with all the extra hours lockdown gave us. There were varying levels of success, with some reaching five (and even six!) figure word goals! Others learned more about fiction writing in general, to be more prepared for the next go around. And then there was me, getting some words down but mostly brushing up on my napping skills.

So if you’re wanting to join in yourself, head on over to the official NaNoWriMo site! I’m sure you can do better than me. And for tips and tricks, have a read of the two official NaNoWriMo books: No Plot? No Problem! and Brave the Page. Budding writers, keep an eye on the blog for more writing-related goodness and lists in the future.

Tara Black x Dylan Horrocks: An Event You Don’t Want to Miss

So, you’re an artist. Or a writer. Or both. Or neither — maybe you just like looking at stuff and reading stuff and want to know more about how it works! Maybe you’re into comics, or manga, or general illustration, or live drawing, or all of the above. Maybe, just maybe, you’re wanting to find out how you can take your passion for drawing or writing and turn it into your life’s work, your livelihood, your source of creative (and financial) nourishment. Or maybe you just want to sit in on a conversation with two very cool and talented people and be swept away by their wit and craft.

Regardless of which category you fit into above, we have the event for you: Talk and Draw with Tara Black and Dylan Horrocks, Saturday 17 April, 1.00pm at Johnsonville Library at Waitohi Community Hub. Part workshop, part overview, part conversation — join us for what promises to be a fabulous, informative, and entertaining event, with two of the biggest names in New Zealand comics.


Photo: Ebony Lamb 2020

If you don’t know Tara Black, you should — she is one of the most distinctive and unique graphic artists working in Aotearoa. Alongside her excellent webcomics (I’m particularly partial to The Blue Fury, in which the ghosts of Janet Frame and Katherine Mansfield get their kicks out of haunting a first-year English teacher) and her extremely weird and cool new book This is not a pipe (VUP, 2020), Tara is known for doing live illustrations of events around Wellington City. I reckon that’s a pretty awesome way to make a living.


The Eisner Award-winning Dylan Horrocks, of course, is one of the most talented and versatile cartoonists working in the scene today. His works range from the meta-comic tour-de-force that is Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen (VUP, 2014) to the iconic Hicksville (Black Eye Comics, 1998), which I choose to believe draws some inspiration from my own home town of Hastings, which may have been briefly known as Hicksville in the early 1870s, with a healthy dose of work on the Batman and Batgirl comics in the early-mid 2000s.

Come along and join us for this Most Ambitious Crossover Event In Comic Book History (okay not really, but it will still be really cool!), and of course check out Tara and Dylan’s books below!


This is not a pipe / Black, Tara
“I’ve decided to document my life in pictures. It’s hard to draw the pole, because of the pole. Beth has a pole through her arms. This is not a metaphor. A metaphor would be a lot less inconvenient. On the other side of the room, Kenneth is creating a new religion. He thinks narrative is the operating principle of the universe. He also thinks he’s the hero of Beth’s story. Beth is worried he’s going to leave her. The creatures living in the pole may have stolen her cat. Tara Black’s comic is surreal, dark, sad, perversely joyful, and if you bet someone they couldn’t find another book remotely like it, you would win. It’s a little bit about being married to Kenneth. It’s a little bit about losing your cat. It’s definitely not about the pole.” (Catalogue)

Hicksville : a comic book / Horrocks, Dylan
“World-famous cartoonist Dick Burger has earned millions and become the most powerful man in the comics industry. However, behind his rapid rise to success, there lies a dark and terrible secret, as biographer Leonard Batts discovers when he visits Burger’s hometown in remote New Zealand. One of the best graphic novels of the past decade.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Incomplete works / Horrocks, Dylan
“Daydreams, fantasy, true love, and procrastination feature strongly in this selection of Dylan Horrocks’s shorter comics running from 1986 to 2012. It is both the chronicle of an age and a portrait of one man’s heroic struggle to get some work done.” (Catalogue)

Sam Zabel and the magic pen / Horrocks, Dylan
“Cartoonist Sam Zabel hasn’t drawn a comic in years. Stuck in a nightmare of creative block and despair, Sam spends his days writing superhero stories for a large American comics publisher and staring at a blank piece of paper, unable to draw a single line. Then one day he finds a mysterious old comic book set on Mars and is suddenly thrown headlong into a wild, fantastic journey through centuries of comics, stories, and imaginary worlds. Accompanied by a young webcomic creator named Alice and an enigmatic schoolgirl with rocket boots and a bag full of comics, Sam goes in search of the Magic Pen, encountering sex-crazed aliens, medieval monks, pirates, pixies and–of course–cartoonists. Funny, erotic, and thoughtful, Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen explores the pleasures, dangers, and moral consequences of fantasy.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Tūhono: It Lives!

Poets, readers, fellow champions of the written and spoken word — hark, and listen well. The day has finally come — Tūhono, our poetry journal for young Wellingtonians, has officially been released into the world as of the 11th of January 2021. And what a world it has arrived into — civil and political unrest overseas, the spectre of a global pandemic still haunting our every step; and yet, sunshine over the hitherto stormy seas of our fair town. Tūhono, I think, captures all of that and more. Read it now on OverDrive and Libby.

We are having physical copies printed as well, so soon you’ll be able to find Tūhono 2020 on the shelf at your local public or school library. We will also be giving two copies to the National Library of New Zealand, where they will be preserved for the rest of time (the legal term is ‘in perpetuity‘) as part of the cultural heritage of this country. It’s big deal, yo.

A two-page spread from Tūhono, featuring work by Jasmine (16) and Lily (11).

As we say in the business, this is The Good Stuff.

There are some very important and cool people whom I would like to thank for their input — Stephanie Poulopoulos (my partner-in-crime, and the amazing librarian who buys all of the kids’ and teens’ books for our collection), Ligia Horta (who designed the book — what an amazing talent she is!), Monty Masseurs (who helped get everything set up online), Bridget Jennings (who wrote the catalogue record for the book, making sure you can actually find it online), and Celeste Mackintosh (who helped organise the online submissions throughout the month of November 2020). They are all very awesome librarians and we should all pay homage to their greatness and humility.

Friends, in this life, no one is 'just' a librarian.

Go forth and read! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and maybe — just maybe — you’ll feel connected with everyone else who put something of themselves into this incredible book.

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!

Last Chance to Submit to Tūhono!

Today is November 30th, which means it is officially the last day to submit your poetry to Tūhono, our new poetry journal for kids and teens in Wellington! If you’re still looking for inspiration, check out our poetry starter kit here. We also put together a list of excellent poetry collections for young people here. What better way to unwind (or distract yourself) from your exams than to write us a wee poem? We don’t normally encourage procrastination, but in this case we are in full support of any writerly actions you might take.

To find out more about Tūhono, check that your work meets our criteria, and submit your poem for inclusion in the journal, check out this post.

UPDATE: The submission link is now closed. Thank you to all the wonderful poets out there who submitted their work! The publication will be available soon.

 This could be you! We believe in you!

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!

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!

Books Alive: Damien Wilkins and the Subtle Art of Surprise

The announcement of the winners of the 2020 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults draws nigh! To celebrate, we’ve invited YA Fiction Award nominee Damien Wilkins (Aspiring, 2019) to run an awesome creative writing workshop for teens called ‘The Subtle Art of Surprise.’ How does language do its tricks? How do we harness its power to pull our readers in? And once we’ve pulled them in, how do we keep them guessing as to what will happen next?

The answers to these questions and more will be yours, should you attend the workshop! Deets below:

What: The Subtle Art of Surprise with Damien Wilkins
Where: Johnsonville Library at Waitohi Community Hub
When: Friday 7 August, 4.00pm

Sadly, we cannot guarantee pizza for this event, but we can guarantee intellectual enlightenment and snacks. Oh, how the snacks will flow. What more could you possibly need?

In case you’ve forgotten, here’s an excerpt from our blog post about the NZ Book Awards where we talk about Damien’s book, Aspiring, and its general awesomeness:

Aspiring / Wilkins, Damien
Our thoughts: We loved the verbosity and relatability of 15-year-old Ricky’s near-constant internal monologue throughout this book — it’s full of the kinds of observations about life in a small town that we recognise and empathise with. It’s exciting to see the author’s bold and unpretentious voice applied to young adult themes and characters for the first time in this book, and we’re hoping there’s more to come in this space in the future!

Pete’s was where I had an after-school job. There was no one at the restaurant called Pete. The owner’s name was Garth but he hadn’t got around to changing the name. He didn’t want to climb on a ladder and paint it up. ‘Besides,’ Garth said, ‘who’d want to come to a place called Garth’s? Sounds like someone clearing his throat.’

I wouldn’t have needed a ladder.

— Damien Wilkins, Aspiring, Massey University Press, 2020.

A Very Special Message for our Teen Writers

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently sent a very kind message of encouragement for our WCL Teen Writers, following their huge success participating in the Camp NaNoWriMo April 2020 Challenge, in which they collectively wrote well over 100,000 words in their bid to write a whole novel over a month of isolation. Here’s what the Prime Minister had to say:

I want to pass on a quick message to everyone involved in the WCL Teen Writers group — and I want to start by saying thanks.

Right now, we’re living through really challenging and uncertain times, and for many people, it’s been tough. I know young people are facing their own unique challenges, from adjusting to distance learning, giving up special occasions like school balls, and not being able to meet up with your friends, but so many of you have put in an amazing effort and played your part to help keep this virus under control. Thanks for this — it’s so important.

I was interested to hear about your online writing group, the work you’re doing, and the support you provide each other. This is a really good example of the positives that have come out of the COVID-19 response. You’ve all come together online to support each other, share your work and ideas, and embark on some pretty impressive projects. I hope you’re enjoying the group and will continue to keep in touch when life returns to something a bit more normal.

All the best with your writing — I’m sure I’ll be seeing your work in bookstores soon! For now, though, stay safe and look out for each other.

— Rt. Hon. Jacinda Ardern

As you can imagine, the Prime Minister’s message generated considerable interest on our WCL Teen Writers Discord server, from the joyous but mostly coherent:

…to the joyous but not so coherent:

…to the reflective and compassionate:

…and right back around to the disbelieving:

Thank you, Prime Minister, for your words of encouragement, motivation, and solidarity. Rest assured, we’re still writing and keeping connected (and of course the banter is still top-quality), and hopefully will be for a while yet! Here’s what one of our talented writers had to say about the group:

If you’re a keen writer, or even just really like reading, we’d love for you to join our vibrant community on Discord! Just email us or message us on Facebook with your name and school year level, and we can send you a link to join!

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