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

Tag: stuff to write

Tūhono: Get Yourself Some Inspiration!

It’s me again, with another of my periodic reminders that submissions for Tūhono 2021, our poetry journal for children and teens, are still open! You’ve got plenty of time to write something (in fact, we’ve just extended the deadline to the 14th of November!) and send it in to be published — and we will publish everything, as long as it meets our guidelines.

In case you’re searching for inspiration, we thought we would share with you some of our favourite poems written by teens for last year’s volume, Tūhono 2020. Read on to be wowed, inspired, jazzed, and just overall motivated to contribute your masterpiece to our new collection.

Note: Submissions to Tūhono 2021 have now closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted.

1. Passage of History — Deanna, age 15

The full text of this poem is written below.

Passage of History

Through a thread we all hold
Through this thread all is told
Down it’s passed young from old
This thread echoes war it carries the mourning of our ancestors
Here every language is told all our traditions we hold
In our hands
In our hands we hold precious memories other than ours
Although we encounter troubles we take it on as one
Because this thread connects us all
This thread is nothing more thing less
I feel blessed
To hold this thread for my passed grandparents
Thank you for this thread I will cherish
I swear an oath I won’t let it perish
Through this thread I’m proud to hold
Through this thread all our stories are told

— Deanna, age 15

2. [Untitled] — Nadezhda, age 17

The full text of the poem is written out below.

Pushing at risk teeth
Killing at risk teens

Your mother is wrong
Because all the time I knew you, you knew I would do it

I am only lying
But I am only lying to you
I am lying stretched out like a cat in the sun on the hood of your car
Black stockinged legs hanging over the edge

Kicking at the rain and chewing up the gravel
Right in front of you………………

There is blood in your teeth boy, and on my hands
What if I turn out to be something that makes your mother right?
You might just turn away
And walk into her outstretched arms

— Nadezhda, age 17

3. Included Components: Notes to My Past Self in the Form of a Contents List — Thyme, age 16

The full text of this poem is written out below.

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 colour — 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 to you the scratches will fade eventually)

— Thyme, age 16

4. Tap Tap Malu — Katie, age 15

The full text of this poem is written out below.

Tap Tap Malu

Tap, Tap
ink in blood out
absorbing, blending
weaving together
responsibilities of a Samoan woman
in Samoan society

Tap, Tap
ink in blood out
the bittersweet burn of the au
bleeding the ink to the surface
mapmaking the path to your ancestors

Tap, Tap
the sting on skin stretched tightly
a compact canvas freshly inked
a single colour pallette
sourced from the candlenut tree
a lama landscape
of oceans that will not wash away

Tap, Tap
O le Gafa o le Tatau,
chants of two sisters
Taema ma Tilafaiga
who swam the vasa wide
with a song and ‘ato au and echoed chant
‘only women get tattooed, not men’
‘only women get tattooed, not men’

Tap, Tap
O le Gafa o le Tatau
chants of two sisters
Taema ma Tilafaiga
who dove the vasa deep
for a faisua near the shores of Falealupo
breaking the ocean’s surface,
gasping for air
an old chant was forgotten
a new chant echoed
‘only men get tattooed, not women’
‘only men get tattooed, not women’

Tap, Tap
Malu
Tap, tap thigh
Tap, tap hand
Tap, tap arm
Tap, tap back
Tap, tap feet
Tap, tap ankles
Tap, tap face
Tap, tap neck
Tap, tap, tap…….
When is it still a Malu?

— Katie, age 15

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 14th of November to submit, and more info about that can be found here.

Note: Submissions for Tūhono 2021 are now closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted.

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)

Tūhono 2021: We Want Your Poems

Tūhono, Wellington City Libraries’ poetry journal for kids and teens, is now open for submissions until 14 November 2021! All throughout the month of October, we are accepting submissions of poetry from young writers aged 5 – 18 in Wellington City. Last time we had so many poems that it was hard to fit them all into a single book — so this time, we’ll be publishing two volumes — one for kids, and one for teens.

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, and in a limited print run for our libraries, so that everyone with a library card can borrow it and bask in your talent and glory! Check out Tūhono 2020 on OverDrive here.

Let your poetic thoughts take wing!

Here is all the information you need to submit a poem for inclusion in Tūhono 2021:

When?

  • Submissions will be open from 1 October – 14 November 2021.
  • The journal will be published and available to borrow from the library in December 2021.

Where?

  • Submissions for Tūhono 2021 have now closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted. The journal will be published in late December 2021.

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 “Whakaata | Reflection.” Exactly what this means to you is up to you — you could write a poem reflecting on something that has happened to you, you could write about a literal reflection in a mirror, window, or lake. The world is your oyster. We recommend you check out the definitions of the words ‘whakaata‘ and ‘reflection‘ in a dictionary to find out all the hidden meanings before you start writing. They don’t mean exactly the same thing — and that is intentional, to give you a wider range of stuff to write about.
  • 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 on 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. The last edition of Tūhono proved itself to be 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 this time!

Throughout the month of October, 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!

Tell us about good books!

Dear readers, if you are between the ages of 13 and 18 and enjoy (shock! horror!) reading books, the editors of this venerable blog would like to invite you to share your thoughts with us in the form of reviews.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You read a book (physical or digital, whatever)
  2. Have thoughts
  3. Write them down and send them to us (click here to find out how)
  4. We publish your reviews on this blog
  5. ???
  6. Profit!!

How exactly does one profit, you may ask? You shall become rich in the eternal respect and admiration of your peers, of course, as well as gaining the widespread fame associated with writing for this most respected of publications.

Now, when you send us your reviews, make sure you include the important information: the title and author of the book, your name (or pseudonym, if you prefer), a haiku about yourself (it’s the law, if you want to publish on the Teen Blog), a promise to name your first-born child after one of our librarians — you know, the usual.

Remember, writing a good review entails more than just a plot summary. Give us some juice! Spill the tea! Tell us what you think about the book and why you think it! Did it make you cry? Did it make you laugh? Did it make you feel super weird? Did it remind you of another book, or a movie, or a song? Did it inspire you in some way? Would you recommend it to someone else? Would you re-read it? Would you rather yeet it into the ocean and never have to think about it again? All reactions valid, all reactions wanted. Just keep the language PG (this is a family site, after all!) and we’ll be all good.

So what are you waiting for? Time to get writing!

Out On The Shelves: Rainbow Stories at Your Library

It is now officially the 2020 Out On The Shelves campaign week! All around the country, libraries, bookstores, schools and other organisations are putting on displays and events to celebrate LGBTQIA+ stories, and to help connect rainbow people to those stories and to each other.

Rejoice, for this year Campaign Week is not one week, but two, from 17 — 30 August. And there’s all kinds of things you can do! You can participate in the Rainbow Writing Competition — your writing could be featured in the Rainbow Zine, and you could be in to win some sweet book voucher prizes, courtesy of the Women’s Book Shop! You could head into one of our libraries, enjoy one of our Out On The Shelves displays, and pick yourself up some excellent reading material from our collection. If you’re more e-inclined, or not super keen on leaving the house, you could visit our LGBTQIA+ Reading Room on OverDrive, or learn about your rainbow history in the Archives of Sexuality and Gender, which WCL was the first public library in the world to provide full access to. Once you’ve done all that, don’t forget to tell us what you think of what you’ve read by writing a review and submitting it to the good folks at Out On The Shelves.

Keep an eye out for more Out On The Shelves content hitting this blog and your local library. Soon we’ll be posting some gorgeous photos of our libraries getting dressed up all fancy and colourful to celebrate Out On The Shelves along with you — sometimes our shelves can be quite bashful; not so during Campaign Week! For now, though, here are some of our favourite rainbow titles from our collections to whet your appetite:

Sometimes we tell the truth : a novel / Zarins, Kim
{reps: intersex}
{content warnings: sexual assault, ptsd}

Look, we’re suckers for contemporary re-imaginings of classic literature. Some might say it’s the reason we got into this business. So this re-telling of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is as fun as it is compelling and moving. It’s the kind of book that gets you to think about the stories we tell, not just to others, but even to ourselves, and the ways in which those stories themselves can sometimes assume the structure of a fiction. At the moment, we only hold this book in our vast Central collection at the Te Pātaka Collection Distribution Warehouse, so reserve it now to get sent to the branch of your choosing!

Every day / Levithan, David
{reps: non-binary}
{content warnings: violence, substance abuse, dysmorphia}

Surely every queer person remembers what it was like the first time they read a David Levithan novel. His works (including Two Boys Kissing, Boy Meets Boy, Will Grayson, Will Grayson) are now so central to the LGBTQIA+ canon that it’s hard to imagine the landscape of contemporary fiction without him. Every Day is one of his most interesting stories. You’ll meet A, a mysterious being that each day inhabits a new body, a new life. Every day they need to become accustomed to a new way of living, a new set of relationships, learning and re-learning over and over again how to be. A’s conception of their own gender identity, sexuality, and indeed personhood is mutable, changeable, flexible as it needs to be. Strong though they are, it is truly their inner voice that is most compelling and relatable as they play through all of the narratives of confusion, defiance, frustration, love, dysmorphia, terror, and acceptance that will be so familiar to so many in our rainbow community. Trust us, and give this a read — you won’t regret it.

Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe / Sáenz, Benjamin Alire
{reps: gay}
{content warnings: discrimination, violence}

We know, we know, this isn’t the first time we’ve highlighted this gem of a novel on this very platform. We’re sorry, but we can’t help but trumpet the importance of this book every time we have the opportunity! Sáenz’s extremely spare, almost poetic, prose sets out in pointillistic detail the agony and anticipation of leaving childhood behind and moving on to somewhere new. At times surreal, but always searing straight through to the heart (yours, mine, the characters’), this story picks you up and never lets you go until what we would class as one of the most perfect endings to a YA novel in recent memory. Even then, it doesn’t truly let you go. Ever. He has a way of setting out the most expansive ideas in the most devastatingly simple of words. Read a segment below to get a sense of what we mean:

There was a tear running down his cheek. It seemed like a river in the light of the setting sun.

I wondered what it was like, to be the kind of guy that cried over the death of a bird.

I waved bye. He waved bye back.

As I walked home, I thought about birds and the meaning of their existence. Dante had an answer. I didn’t. I didn’t have any idea as to why birds existed. I’d never even asked myself the question.

Dante’s answer made sense to me. If we studied birds, maybe we could learn to be free. I think that’s what he was saying. I had a philosopher’s name. What was my answer? Why didn’t I have an answer?

And why was it that some guys had tears in them and some had no tears at all? Different boys lived by different rules.

When I got home, I sat on my front porch.

I watched the sun set.

— Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Simon and Schuster (2012).

All out: the no-longer-secret stories of queer teens throughout the ages / Mitchell, Saundra (ed.)
{reps: lesbian, trans*, asexual, gay}
content warnings: violence, discrimination}

This gorgeous collection of historical short stories is like the perfect fiction companion to Sarah Prager’s biography collection Queer, there, and everywhere: 23 people who changed the world. Oftentimes historical fiction containing LGBTQIA+ representations focusses on the difficulties of life for queer people ‘back in the day,’ or worse, just contains tokenistic references to queer people. This collection is not that. The stories, while they are mostly* accurate portrayals of their respective eras, feel more authentic, the depictions of the characters and their surroundings crystallised through the patented queer lens. The characters are without exception deftly sketched, their circumstances relatable, their relationships real, and their experiences — adventures, first loves, heartbreaks, self-discoveries — speak to a broad universality in queer experience while acknowledging the singularity of each individual’s lived reality. The stories collectively stand and say “Hey, we were here too! We were real, and we lived and loved and ate and cried and went to work and participated in history, just as everyone else did!” And that, friends, is exactly what good fiction should do.

Camp NaNoWriMo April Challenge 2020 is Done and Dusted!

So, Camp NaNoWriMo April 2020 is officially over. We’re super thrilled that so many of you took part in one way or another, whether you joined our classroom forums, contributed to the conversation, hung out over on our Discord, chatted with Elizabeth Knox, or took part in the Camp NaNo Challenge itself. Around 30 novels were started, and many of them were finished — together, we wrote well over 100,000 words. A lot of us learned something about writing and life along the way. Be proud. However you participated, you reached out in this time of isolation and helped create something really special.

If you don’t want it to end, or worse, weren’t able to take part in the first place, all is not lost. Our NaNoWriMo Young Writers’ Programme classroom will probably be fairly quiet until the next challenge comes along, but the Discord is still just as busy as ever, with author talks, writing games, stuff to learn, people to meet, and of course, the highest quality banter this side of the equator. If you want to join, just get in touch on Facebook or by email. We’d love to have you. Also, keep your eye on the Event Calendar so you don’t miss any upcoming events!