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Teen Blog

Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Tag: library tips

Poetry is extremely cool, OK?

If you’ve visited our blog recently, you’ll know that we are now accepting submissions for Tūhono, Wellington City Libraries’ poetry journal for kids and teens. You have until the 31st of October to submit, and more info about that can be found here.

Perhaps you would like to start writing/reading poetry, but you’re not sure where to start? Maybe you’ve never been introduced to poetry that was written after, I don’t know, Netflix stopped sending PHYSICAL DVDS IN THE ACTUAL MAIL. The sad truth is that the poetry taught in schools is old, dusty and almost always about landscapes for some reason. Don’t get me wrong, I love a poem about the hills being cool, but sometimes it’s easier to jump into poetry that speaks more about the here and now.

With that in mind, to inspire any future poets out there, here’s a selection of poems to enjoy! 

All my plants are dead and I’m pretty sure it’s your fault – Dani Yourukova

Can I Still Come Crash at Yours? – Tayi Tibble

Icarus – Kate Tempest

Gremlin in sundress – Rebecca Hawkes

Wormhole – Sinead Overbye

Spacious Family Home ($960 PW) – Rhys Feeney

An-odúne – Liam Hinton

The ordinary poem – Ursula Robinson-Shaw

jasmine – Emily Zuberec

in the end we are humanlike (Blade Runner 2049) – Nina Mingya Powles

Drokpa – Cynthia Miller

My Brother at 3 A.M – Natalie Diaz

to the notebook kid – Eve L. Ewing

Now get writing those poems! Here are some books on writing, if you need some ideas to get you going 🙂


The exercise book : creative writing exercises from Victoria University’s Institute of Modern Letters
“Contains writing prompts to help beginning writers and to help tackle writer’s block. In between are exercises from a host of New Zealand and international writers that explore the nuts and bolts of craft – in poetry, fiction and scriptwriting – along with others that tap into sources of inspiration or show the value of revision and editing.” (Catalogue)


Steering the craft : exercises and discussions on story writing for the lone navigator or the mutinous crew / Le Guin, Ursula K.
“One of the great writers of the twentieth century offers an exhilarating workout for writers of narrative fiction or nonfiction. With her sharp mind and wit and a delightful sense of playfulness, Le Guin has turned a successful workshop into a self-guided voyage of discovery for a writer working alone, a writing group, or a class. Steering the Craft is concerned with the basic elements of narrative: how a story is told, what moves it and what clogs it. This book does not plod through plot, character, beginning-middle-and-end. Nor does it discuss writing as self-expression, as therapy, or as spiritual adventure. Each topic includes examples that clarify and exercises that intensify awareness of the techniques of storytelling.” (Catalogue)


Rip the page! : adventures in creative writing / Benke, Karen
“Here are the ideas, experiments, and inspiration to unfold your imagination and get your writing to flow off the page This is the everything-you-need guide to spark new poems and unstick old stories, including lists of big, small, gross-out, and favorite words; adventurous and zany prompts to leap from; dares and double dares to help you mash up truths and lies into outrageous paragraphs; and letters of encouragement written directly to you from famous authors, including: Annie Barrows, Naomi Shihab Nye, Lemony Snicket, C. M. Mayo, Elizabeth Singer Hunt, Moira Egan, Gary Soto, Lucille Clifton, Avi, Betsy Franco, Carol Edgarian, Karen Cushman, Patricia Polacco, Prartho Sereno, Lewis Buzbee, and C. B. Follett. This is your journal for inward-bound adventures–use it to write, brainstorm, explore, imagine–and even rip” (Catalogue)


Write : a 30-day guide to creative writing / Quigley, Sarah
“This book is designed for the aspiring fiction writer who needs to kick start their imagination. The author is a respected novelist, poet, short story writer and columnist, and in this book she shares some of the ‘tricks of the trade’ she has learned, and offers insights into the creative process, demystifying writing as a form of expression. This is a useful, practical and highly readable guide for the huge and growing market of aspiring writers. Includes a range of charming pen and ink drawings by Gustav Hellberg.” (Catalogue)

Help, I don’t know what to read next!

I’m sure you know the feeling. You’ve just finished reading the last page, last paragraph, last word of a fantastic book. You close it, put it down, and are struck with that itchy feeling, that need to just keep reading. But what? It’s going to have to be something good to live up to the book you’ve just put down. Will the next book you pick up have a character quite as lovable as that one hero you grew so attached to? Or will it have someone quite as chilling as that other character that was so ambiguous you couldn’t figure out if they were a hero or a villain (but you were so invested in them nonetheless)? And what about that ending?! And the way it tied so well back into that chapter where there was that confrontation that made you question everything you’d thought about where the book was heading. How are you going to find another book as good as that one?

Maybe though, this wasn’t the feeling you got when you finished your last book. Maybe you slogged through it. Getting slowly through page after page of foolish characters doing foolish things over and over and over and over. Maybe none of the characters were particularly good people and you dragged yourself through chapter after chapter of them all making each other unhappy with their poor decisions, hoping that maybe once, just once one of them would do something redeemable, but they never do. Maybe the characters aren’t even that bad, but the combined mix of foolish decisions and self-interest just put you off them entirely. Maybe the author’s writing style just didn’t catch you. Perhaps they included too many descriptions of food, of oatfarls and elderflower cream and shrimp and hotroot soup and acorn scones and dandelion tea (I’m looking at you Brian Jacques!), or not enough descriptions of food and too much dialogue! If you’ve been reading a book that you really struggled to get to the end of (but still persevered through to the last page) you might be left with a bad taste in your mind and the need to consume something actually good, or at least better suited to your tastes.

Whether or not you enjoyed the last book you read, upon closing its cover for the final time you will be, I am very sure, be beginning to ponder over the question “But what will I read next?”

And that’s what I’m here to help with! So sit back, pour yourself a glass of dandelion tea, and ready yourself for wall of text I’m about to present you with.

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