Poetry competition winners

Poetry-DayThe judges have conferred, and we have the winners for our National Poetry Day competition 2014. Thanks to you all for a bumper crop of fantastic entries. Poetry is clearly in rude health in Christchurch!

First place goes to Stephen Davies for Tongue tied. Congratulations to Stephe, his prize is book vouchers to the value of $100.

The runner up is Gem and Mineral Society Hall, Waltham Road by Catherine Fitchett. Catherine’s prize is a $50 book voucher.

Here are the two winning entries:

Tongue tied (by Stephen Davies)

There she was again!
Can’t stand it …
Heart palpitating – beating fast.
I’m breaking up Scottie,
Can’t hold it together,
Can’t last.
Palms sweating,
Perspiration on my forehead,
Breathing shallow and irregular.
Re-run the memory video.

Snatches of conversation – heard words.
SHE SPOKE – hung onto every syllable.
The way blossoms cling to trees.
Caught the scent of her perfume,
Loved the way she walked and talked,
And how her hand (mine) stroked her hair.

Couldn’t meet her eyes,
Didn’t know she knew I was there.
She’s two metres away.

Here it comes.
A damn of words,
Stirred, shaken and squashed down,
Bottled up torture
Waiting to erupt.

Engage your mouth before your brain
Before it’s too late.
Let it explode
With the suddenness and force
Of the ripcord of a parachute,

Bursting through
Dry, cracked, parched lips and
Sandpaper tongue,
Crying out …

Too late!
She’s gone.


Gem and Mineral Society Hall, Waltham Road (by Catherine Fitchett)

Each time I pass it grows less,
two patient workmen unbuilding
brick by brick. Pallets at hand
to accept the neat stacks, two by two
this way then that. Eyes closed,
I rewind each image, build it once again.
The walls rise row by row. The roof replaced,
order restored to rubble.
People walk backwards, out and in,
out and in. Dresses grow long
and sweep the ground, passing cars
give way to horse and cart.
The hall grows new,
the lodge regains possession
There’s greatgrandfather Samuel
zipping backwards
in all his Masonic splendour.

I call to him,
but he doesn’t stop,
the rewinding gains pace,
all the costumed figures
stuttering backwards
up the gangplanks
the sails unlowered,
the ships reversing
through the harbour entrance
the swamp undrained
the great moas flashing past
and the hills shooting up
to three times their present height,
the lava roiling up the slopes into the crater
and finally a great stillness
as the land sinks beneath the sea.

Wind it forward again, then
leave them all in the past,
let the building rise and, shaken, fall
let the workmen have it
to finish their patient unbuilding.

National Poetry Day – Friday 22 August 2014

National Poetry Day is a one-day celebration of poetry run each year in conjunction with the New Zealand Post Book Awards. It takes place on Friday 22 August 2014. There are lots of things happening this year so get your poetry on.

National Poetry DayNational Poetry Day competition 2014

Write an original piece of poetry and drop it into your local library or enter online by emailling entries to competition@christchurchcitylibraries.com for a chance to win prizes.

Any style or topic, 200 word limit. You can enter as many poems as you like. The first prize will be book vouchers to the value of $100. There will also be a $50 book voucher for the runner up. Entries open Monday 28 July and close 5pm on National Poetry Day (22 August 2014). Winners will be announced Monday 8 September 2014.

See conditions.

More poetry competitions you can enter.

More Christchurch events

Information from Booksellers New Zealand.

Christchurch – Poetic Licence

When: Friday 15 August, 5.30pm -7.30pm 
Where: Sydenham Room, South Library, Christchurch
What: Following the success of last year, South Island Writers (SIWA) and Airing Cupboard Women Poets would like to once again invite you to polish your best poem and air it in public to get you warmed up for the 2014 National Poetry Day celebrations. An Open Mic, open to all fabulous emerging or published poets – SIWA and Airing Cupboard give you the licence! Bring your friends and family. Sign up at the door if you’re reading. Drinks and nibbles provided. See you there!  (Note: An official warm-up event, the week before National Poetry Day)
Entry details: Free entry. Sign in at the door if you’re reading

Christchurch – Poems4Peace 2014 Poetry Anthology: Christchurch Launch

When: Wednesday 20 August, 6:00–7:00pm.
Where: Room 3, Upper Riccarton Library, 71 Main South Rd, Sockburn, Christchurch
What: The year-long 2014 Poems4Peace programme provides a platform to make contemporary poetic voices heard and contribute to influencing a whole new generation of peace-makers in NZ and beyond. Earlier in 2014, Printable Reality and Splice, in association with New Zealand Poetry Society and Michael King Writers’ Centre ran a poetry competition as part of  the project. General public, local and international poets were invited to compose poetry expressing the concept of inner-peace and peace for our world. The results are collected together in the Poems4Peace 2014 Poetry Anthology, which will have its Christchurch Launch in the lead-up to National Poetry Day. Christchurch poets will read their poems and books will be available for sale. Everybody welcome!

Christchurch – Poetry for Lunch

When: Friday 22 August, 12:00pm -1:00pm
Where: Canterbury University Bookshop, University Drive, University of Canterbury, Christchurch
What: Join UBS for its traditional National Poetry Day celebration with readings from wonderful local poets Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, Roger Hickin, Frankie Macmillan, Ben Brown and James Norcliffe. Free coffee vouchers for the first 20 audience members.
Entry details: Free.

Poetry at WORD Christchurch

WORD ChristchurchWORD Christchurch Writers and Readers festival starts on 27 August, and it has a great lineup of poetry events including:

Twitter Poetry Night

Twitter Poetry Night will be teaming up with The Pantograph Punch and publishing a poetry mix-tape and then a favourite NZ-poem-themed Poetry Night on Sunday 24 August, at 8pm. It will be a ‘favourite NZ poem’ themed night. What you need to do is record yourself reading one of your favourite New Zealand poems, then send the recording to @PoetryNightNZ.

Find out more

LitFinder: the power of words!

There is one poem that always make me smile despite being completely knackered. It is a poem of defiance in the face of adversity. Part of it is here:

Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

‘Cause walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

                                                        Still I’ll rise.

(Excerpt from the poem Still I Rise by Maya Angelou (1978))

I discovered this wee gem through LitFinder which contains:

  • 135,000 full-text poems (Frost, Byron, Pound, and Rossetti);
  • Over 7,000 full-text short stories and novels (Chaucer, Poe, Hemingway, Walker);
  • 4,000 full-text essays published from the past 500 years which focus on humanities, social science, and literary criticism;
  • 1,700 full-text plays, including one-act plays, tragedies and comedies (Shakespeare, Chekhov, Ibsen);
  • 2,000 full-text speeches, including Churchill, Martin Luther King, Jr, and Obama.

If you are seeking the rest of this poem, inspiration or just research answers then LitFinder is a great place to start. Here you will find words to calm or alternatively kick-start your passions!

Oh to be in high school English again where poetry is wrung out and left to dry

Cover: "Our Favourite Poems"I wish I hadn’t studied poetry at high school.

I wish I had been left to wander lonely as a cloud and to lie amid the daffodils.Why could I not be left to explore Xanadu’s pleasure domes at my leisure?

If I had been left to enjoy poetry, I would have put to sea in my pea-green boat and rescued the boy from a burning deck. We would sail away for a year and a day (or until I understood haiku poetry). We would bump against a foreign shore that will be forever England.

If  I hadn’t been made to study poetry at school, I would run over hill and dale, clasping my book of poems. I would ride the colt from old Regret across my sunburnt country. I would dip my toes in  the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea and  The Bloke would take Doreen to see a play.

Before I studied poetry in high school, I was let to run across glade and glen, shunning the frumious Bandersnatch and brandishing my vorpal blade. I knew why a raven was like a desk and I knew for whom the bell tolled. It tolled for my family, telling us to hurry up or we’ll be late for church. Before I studied poetry, I knew not what the poet meant, only what was said.

Alas, dear reader, my teacher took my much loved poems from me

and told me what the poet really meant to say.

The poems lost their colour and the images faded away.

So tell me if you can… Is it too late for Hunt, Dennis, Thomas, Yeats and Wordsworth to weave a colourful poem for me?

Or have I found a Boojum?

Is Christchurch the Motown of New Zealand poetry?

Cover of The Summer King Christchurch poet Joanna Preston has recently launched her first collection. The first-ever winner of the University of Otago’s Kathleen Grattan award, Preston is an Australian living in New Zealand who describes herself as a “tasmanaut”.

Ahead of her performance with Frankie MacMillan at the Central Library on Friday, I spoke with her about daily visits to her bookcase, the vagaries of the writing process and why she calls Christchurch the Motown of New Zealand poetry.  Read the interview.

The local scene is pretty healthy, she reckons. What do you think – is Christchurch a big player on the poetry scene? Does geography make a difference to the poetry?  Or is poetry all a bit flaky for your tastes?

Have a read of the interview, then lob your comment like a poetic grenade!

Preston also has her own blog, A Dark Feathered Art.

Anzac, Poppies, Remembrance

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row …”

The Poppy has become an international symbol of remembrance for fallen servicemen and women. Canadian John McCrae’s poem, “In Flanders Fields”, appeared in 1915 and since then the wild red poppies of Flanders have been associated with the terrible slaughter of war.

Anzac Day, April 25 is tomorrow. If you haven’t been to a dawn service or some other memorial service, it is worth going. Somehow, remembering military disasters and sacrifices worlds away produces a blend of pride and sadness that is a significant part of our national mythology. Gallipoli, Cathedral Square or the little war memorial at the crossroads outside a country town – the feeling is the same.

Anyone delving into our nation’s history or our own family histories is bound to come across the military history that is the background to Anzac Day and the development of New Zealand as a nation with it’s own unique identity. Christchurch City Libraries has heaps of material – try our Anzac Day resources as a starting point.

Associated with Anzac Day is the annual Poppy Day appeal, held on the Friday before Anzac Day. RSA volunteers throughout New Zealand offer red poppy buttonholes in exchange for donations to the RSA Welfare Fund. The first Poppy Day Appeal was held in New Zealand in 1922, which makes it one of the oldest nationwide appeals in the country. The style of the poppy has evolved over time but the meaning has remained constant — remembrance and welfare. A new feature for 2009 was the Mobile Poppy. Make a donation now and you can choose wallpaper and ringtones memorabilia for your phone. You can also leave your thoughts on the online Wall of Remembrance.