Sunday, 24 September 2017

Given Poems – National Poetry Day 2017

MANY THANKS TO ALL who have sent in their poems with the words donated from around New Zealand. We have enjoyed reading all your poems and seeing how each person has incorporated the five words, which were not easy!

Our judge Charles Olsen comments: "I have enjoyed many of the images created such as a couple (I assume) who ‘huddled into curiosity’ as they contemplated a find on the beach; the sea – Hinemoana – 'daggered with a cracked splinter of ice' bringing a different take on climate change as does another poem pointing out ‘this earth is not our mother/fond and ever-forgetting’; the topical reflection on the elections with 'media static posing as fact'; a reflection on life and death as ‘paua eyes weep tears of rain’. Kaitiakitanga was not an easy word to fit into a poem and I liked the originality of 'the kaitiakitanga of your days… slips from you', in The Finishing Time, and the delightful 'kitchen floor act' in Our Dog Pleads for Food. The poem All this stood out for me because it tells a simple story full of wonderful details. A conversation with a gull on a windswept beach introduces the concept of kaitiakitanga and we move on towards a second conversation and unanswered questions…
"I was also impressed by the creativity of our younger poets and was particularly drawn to the opening imagery of Songbird where the unexpected phrasing has something of the otherworldliness of birdsong. In the end I have settled on A Magical Visit with its vivid imaginary world – the way poetry can open thought spaces – and the particularly creative way the five words have all found a place within the story."

We are delighted to announce the winning poems. The winner of Best Poem who receives a copy of the New Zealand Poetry Yearbook 2017, courtesy of Massey University Press is Elizabeth Brooke-Carr for her poem All this and the winner of the Under-16 category who receives a copy of Lonesome When You Go by Saradha Koirala courtesy of Mākaro Press is Hannah Earl for her poem A Magical Visit. Congratulations from Given Words.
Their poems along with the other poems received can be read below. The winning poems have also been translated into Spanish and can be read here.

The following poems were all written with the Given Words:
exhilarated, static, finish, kaitiakitanga and biscuitchip.

❆ ❆ ❆

All this

Winter beach, desolate. Wind-whipped, exhilarated, salt
air stings our faces. Sand, marshmallow-soft winkles
out our toes. A gull swoops low, querulous, edgy,
screaming at us, this is mine! We throw back our heads,
laughing, tease, it’s ours! But we know all this
is only ours to care for, our kaitiakitanga, as we pass,
pressing footprints into the wild, southern afternoon.

You see it first. A lumpish, static shape on the shoreline.
Kelp? Driftwood? An old jacket, lost long ago, returned
by the tide, hunched shoulders, bunched lining, seams
split by a careless shrug of sea? Our footsteps track to
the hump. Collars up, we huddle into curiosity. A pup
shark, dark biscuitchip eyes glazed with ancient fog,
leafbud ears. Kneeling, I whisper its beauty.

Perfect parabola, black velvet shading to ashy grey,
white belly curve stained with a blush of weeping pink.
Did the waves carry you here to finish your struggle,
lay you out on this cold sand slab, for us to marvel at,
as if wonder was a last rite we might perform for you?
Far out, at the edge of my spindrift mind you swim
again, intrepid, in a school of gliding fins.

Elizabeth Brooke-Carr

Read the poem in Spanish.

❆ ❆ ❆

A Magical Visit

The path ahead is dark and mysterious,
The trees stand honourably at the entrance like kaitiakitanga,
Noble guardians of the forest,
Their rough, biscuitchip armour vastly intimidating.

I am exhilarated at the thought of the unknown,
What lies ahead? What will I discover?
I boldly take an adventurous step inside,

As I embrace my surroundings, I leave my world behind,
Entering another planet entirely,
An air of excitement hangs around me,
The only lively creature among taunting shadows and a whispering breeze.

Suddenly I amble into a magical clearing,
The braggart wind is oddly static and hushed,
Birdsong pervades the sun-kissed environment,
I am in an ethereal paradise.

I must now finish my journey,
The voices of my parents beckon me back to reality,
I whisper goodbye to this fairytale setting,
As I depart the forest once more.

Hannah Earl, aged 12

Read the poem in Spanish.

❆ ❆ ❆


shrouds of pine darken around background static of a zillion needles howling
a low sound of grief on the wind recycling a long playing tune

wrapped in the cloak of kaitiakitanga that bound them to the land
and each other they file at funereal pace in black and crowns of green leaf woven

to the urupa   heaving the carved box   its heavy heart Rimu laced with biscuitchip ply
art weaving traditional design with a contemporary touch

mourning the race finished paua eyes weep tears of rain
over a damp earth mound   the grave dug wide and deep befitting such mana

an overture above the lake   their chants mingle with screeches of the exhilarated
mokopuna splashing heedlessly in hot pools bubbling heat and steam

beside cold streams   kowhaiwhai of two threads   prophecy and past
waiata to the indomitable spirit of the deceased and living

later the epilogue
time to unearth the hangi for kai

Suzanne Herschell

❆ ❆ ❆

The gnawing of Hinemoana

kai – tia – kitanga
kai – tia – kitanga
ironically muttered the smoking train
as it passed the harbour mouth
on its two black tracks

fear! cried the wind,
fear the tepid
sleepless water

After so many years
kissing the sandbank
with her foaming lips
the great grey goddess

need only once
be daggered
with a cracked
splinter of ice
into her life blood

need only once
be swollen
beyond her means
to annihilate
swelling forward
to spill
the highway.

once more
will be static

The sea after all
is the finish line.

Explanatory note:
'There is ever a danger that land may be seriously injured by the encroachment of Hine-moana, the ocean; the bays and inlets we see have been formed by the ngaunga Hine-moana, as the Maori puts it, the ‘gnawing of Hine-moana’ into the body of the Earth Mother.' (Best, 2016)

Madison Ruth Hamill

❆ ❆ ❆

We might begin, by asking which election?

Once upon a time all was quiet
in the nation’s living rooms after dark
and seven no trump was bid
in a family game of cards, not thrones.

Now politicians sell election promises
like the last biscuitchip, even here.

They obliterate kaitiakitanga, dissembling
half-truths, advertising, a clamour of desire.

Exhilaration coasting in and out of
our days, on a spring tide of hype.
Ordinary lives inside their conch shell of quiet
bombarded by media static posing as fact.

till they finish, exhausted by their own games.
Such vote-catching talk, tying good words in knots.

Pat White

❆ ❆ ❆

Our Dog Pleads for Food

I’m finishing cookies
by our dog,
coat bristling with straight-from-kennel static,
does his usual kaitiakitanga of the kitchen floor act –
all intense eyes and
cocked ears, and, exhilarated,
mops up the odd biscuitchip…

Stephanie Mayne

❆ ❆ ❆

The Finishing Time

In life’s corner, you’re painted in.
You wait upon the finishing.
The burden of care is loosened,
the kaitiakitanga of your days,
of family, home, and work,
slips from you, slack and frayed.
In the finishing of things
each slim scrap of life claimed
exhilarates those who remain,
those who stay to walk in light
and struggle in their measure.
The lonely stuff of used up days
assembled in static display,
crumbs of biscuitchip grow soft
on the margins of an unswept floor.
Here in these dim latitudes,
time is a guttering match,
there are no more rooms left,
when the forgetting has begun,
and you await the finishing
to come.

Victor Billot

❆ ❆ ❆


‘Is there anyone among you who,
if your child asks for bread
will give a stone?
Or if he asks for a fish
Will give a snake?’

And an adorable little boy
Asks for a biscuitchip.
E hoa, kei hea to kaitiakitanga?*
Will I give bread, a stone, a fish, a snake
Or a humble biscuitchip?
E hoa, kei hea to kaitiakitanga?
I will give the boy his biscuitchip,
For the Lord asks of me kaitiakitanga.
E hoa, kei hea to kaitiakitanga?
As his follower I must bring his love to the world
And finish the work he began.
E hoa, kei hea to kaitiakitanga?
Use me, Lord, and move my static heart to love,
And to be exhilarated in your service.

* Friend, where is your caring?

Barry Olsen
Aylesbury, UK

❆ ❆ ❆

A Circuit Diagram for the Solo Parent

These sons play with electricity;
a thin slice of acrylic and rubbing balloons create static so
when the lights are out sparks fly.

They celebrate Science with dessert;
icecream pressed ‘tween pink wafers.
A biscuit-chip jams between her teeth.
She dislodges it with the nail on the smallest finger of her left hand
and is exhilarated knowing
that she, alone, has kaitiakitanga of these sons,
their solar cells and integrated circuits.
And fears too, that she will wear thin soon.
Her gums bleed.

She conducts electricity from the centre,
with her hands full of theirs.
These sons finish the circuit so
a toy with LEDs lights up.

Heather McQuillan

❆ ❆ ❆

Tupu Ake: Transition

We have imagined ourselves
children, a boisterous brood
cushy in the warm underwing
of a static earth

tots at a preschool party
lick-fingering sticky pleasures
‘til buzz-headed and sick

toddlers at the beach, pocketing
shells, biscuitchips of pumice,
on tiptoe, stretching sinless
fingers to pluck the lot

mouth-gulping at Gaia’s circus
gawping splay-eyed at ocean haze
and sundown sky-garlands
(aim, click, share, repeat)

this make-believe will finish us
we are not children
urgent for the treasures of
an everywhere-supermarket

this earth is not our mother
fond and ever-forgiving
settling with the cashier
for our pilfered pocket-trove

we are Kaitiaki
we have duties
it is time to grow up and give back.

Elspeth Tilley

❆ ❆ ❆

Pluck pizzicato

Now finish
what you have started:
the sweet biscuitchip of bountiful delights
that taunt and tease,
kiss and conquer,
dream and drown.

Around me,
I’m surrounded by static energy in transformation:
I’m reeling from an everlasting pulse
that beats
beyond the confines of my heart.

I’m feeling an unceasing thrum, a kinetic transfer of all my hopes
to you, my guard
Kaitiakitanga of all that I am is now wholly your domain.
Deem me worthy-

Ka hikitia:
raise me,
render me
beyond the horizons of the ordinary.

Pluck pizzicato at the very harpstrings of my potential;
thrumming every exhilarated note
to exponential
chords of synergistic kindness.

Kaitiakitanga of aroha:
Harness longing that you may linger
ever long
in the endless light of

Hayley Solomon

❆ ❆ ❆

Five in the morning
(for Wislawa Szymboska)

The hour has come
The hour that stretches beyond the night to begin the day
The hour where the biscuitchip moon still hangs high
The hour of the quiet static of silent streets
The hour wet with rain, dew, or melted frost
The hour when dreams of memories both start and finish.

The waking hour
Exhilarated heartbeats flutter and sink
As alarms rudely blare
Now five o’clock has come.

The last kaitiakitanga of the night
Greets the first of the day
And we go on living.

Lara Sanderson

❆ ❆ ❆

You might as well finish me off now.
Where you once swam, exhilarated
I now cry a river of nitrogen tears.
You’ve sucked the air out of me
drained me
polluted my body

“Biscuitchip $1” the sign says
“Save the whales, save the oceans, save the world”
as if money’s the answer
Kaitiakitanga, now there’s a word
intended to protect
but too many words
are like static on a telephone line
And money, it’s never enough
when all I really need
is for you to love me

Karyn Durham

❆ ❆ ❆


I was once a child who believed
the whole world was exhilarated
in a sleeping giant’s belly, and
that inside was out.

The moa smells
like the taniwha’s breakfast,
wax on toast.
A feather ascending
sounds like a branch crashing
through strokes of green and gold
sunlight, drawn by a child
with a sparkler in the dark.

Childhood seasons you with biscuitchips.
Crumbs are the best compliment.
Have you noticed how the solar plexus
picks at them to juggle for a while
before they fall, roll away.
Who can find them
when they are running out
carrying the empty plate.
It won’t be empty.
If Kaitiakitanga was the taniwha
raising its head above Lake Taupo,
I would allow it to swallow
me whole. It will be like slipping
head first down the inside
of the long throat of
the two-storied water slide
at Te Rauparaha Aquatic Centre
in a chlorine-free version of a static future.
The last word will be fresh.
Will it be fresh?

Gingerella is an iced slice
made from mother’s magic healer.
Crumbs are the unfinished
complement to the piece,
to the whole
on the brink of finished,
until the sparrows.

Cherllisha Silva
Pukerua Bay, Porirua

❆ ❆ ❆


Biscuitchip? Biscuitchip? What can it be?
Is it something that I should surely see?
Is it something sacred?
Something sweet?
Something that human people eat?

My kiatiakitanga feels a pull,
A nagging tug as to who’s the fool,
I wish I could feel exhilarated,
Instead I feel worried and disorientated.

In a world that is static,
Fixed in its way,
It’s hard to find,
The chance to say:

Biscuitchip, biscuitchip, why are you here?
Do you make life finish too soon with despair?
Have we lost the truth of what it is care?
The call of nature, falling deaf on the ear?

Shall we listen again to the fruit and the trees,
the warmth of the soil, nature’s keys.

When we grow, will we talk?
When we talk, will we grow?
Imagine the connections
We might get to know.

Kirsty O'Hara

❆ ❆ ❆

Te Kaitiakitanga
o te reo
Hold the gate
or gate the hold?
Not from static noise
but exhilarated sheep
We must defend our diction
Language, though
fluid at best
Shall not be finished
by a typo to be
such as biscuitchip

Victor Wang

❆ ❆ ❆


I plunge
Into the Ocean
I swim out
With the sea

Diving down
To scoop up
Beautiful, coloured shells
That lie beneath

The sun
High overhead
Warm upon my body

I feel at one
With the water
Static, suspended
At peace
As I float

I finish
With a flourish
Shaking off
Salty droplets
As I emerge
From the waves’ embrace

I lay down
Onto my towel
Baked crisp
By the heat of the day

The sand - gritty
Like a biscuitchip
Between my toes

I gaze out
At this heavenly body
Watching the rhythm
Listening to the song

How much
I respect and cherish
The kaitiakitanga
Of all our beaches

So close…
To my heart

Petrina Skelley
Waiheke Island

❆ ❆ ❆

I am the guardian.
The beach strewn with the laziness of others.
A birds nest of static fish line.
Bottles broken.
Plastic unrelenting.
Seagulls exhilarated, squabble for the remaining
biscuit chip.
Kia kaha oh beautiful Gaia.
My kete now full,
as i near the finish.
I am Kaitiakitanga.

Marianne Wood
Waiheke Island

❆ ❆ ❆

My heart is on fire
static electricity when I’m with you.
I’m exhilarated
like ice-cold water
ouch my lips
turn them blue
and biscuitchip
because you’ve taken a chip from my soul
and I know
you’re not giving it back
You destroy me
You create me
You finish me
I need your kaitiakitanga
Be mine

Ngaire Ferriss, aged 13

❆ ❆ ❆


About to begin.
The exhilarated feeling increases as the minute hand ticks
towards the middle.

and the screen dissolves
into static
sounds of wind and rain echo through the night.
flaming dots flicker across the screen instead of the scheduled programme.
Cosmic radiation, from billions of years ago
stops for a second, inside my television.
But the universe never stops, never does finish.
Stars, explode into supernovae,
born again in a million years.
Small things enter the cosmos.
The child,
itself a cosmos,
from silent baby with large eyes, looking up to his mother.
Her protection, her kaitiakitanga unknown to him.
He doesn’t understand.
a toddler, who speaks, and plays and asks for ‘biscuit-chip.’
He doesn’t understand.
A student at school, who learns, asks the teacher questions, enjoys youth.
He still doesn’t understand.
career choices,
the perils of adulthood.
He doesn’t understand.
Forming a family, children.
He doesn’t understand.
on his deathbed
his family surrounds him,
his pale eyes look up,
and he wonders what is next.
He doesn’t understand.
But really, do any of us?

Xavier Dickason, aged 14
New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆

New Beginnings

You swore loyalty
Became a guardian,
Always to save me,

There I was, longing for freedom
Exhilarated as fresh air filled my lungs
Independence was not all it was cracked up to be
The day I left
Was the day you stopped protecting me

The finale of my existence
Truly, a climactic finish
But in the space I left
Static hissed
And those around me began to crack

Resist the urge
To break like a biscuit-chip
Continue on,
Be a warrior for more.

Amelia Kirkness, aged 14
New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆

Pounding footsteps echo through the hallways,
Static excitement circulating through the children.
Exhilarated faces scan the table,
Drooling mouths and open eyes.
Rushing hands,
grasping fingers,
the scurrying sound of an animal vacuum cleaner.
Biscuitchip slowly drifting to the ground as they finish,
Coating the ground in a blanket of crumbs.
Feeding the children of today,
To protect our tomorrow.

Gabi Summerfield, aged 13

❆ ❆ ❆


Gathered like translucent petals
Whispering among peaks,
A glance of sunset
Once again, never again

Does a songbird care for the glimmering instance of its tune?
A melody as exhilarating,
a flaming sky
As timeless,
a Summer’s eve
As old,
Older than the world.

The cacophonies
of our relentless souls
Hushed by the silence of the night

Yet connected to each other;
A static cling
To finished

ephemeral biscuitchips
Like stars,
Along this Milky-Way.

Joanna Liu, aged 14

❆ ❆ ❆


Exhilarated, I can see
The things that you have done for me
When I am not around
They pick me up when things aren’t right
When I forget, or I lose sight
Or tumble to the ground

When all I feel is static, numb and
all my thoughts and values crumble
like old biscuitchip
You’re in my mind reminding me
That it’s okay to simply be
you help me find a grip

For I must not be oh so bad
If I’m a girl that when you had
no obligation to
Still stood for me without a doubt
And thought of me while I was out
Just as I think of you

So let’s forget self-centered musings
On a journey of our choosing
help the world replenish
Kaitiakitanga together
what we do now will last forever
This life will never finish

Allison LeBuffe, aged 14

❆ ❆ ❆

Monday, 28 August 2017

Thank you!

A big thank you to everyone who has sent us their poem with the five words – exhilarated, static, finish, kaitiakitanga and biscuitchip. The poems and the winners will be published here in September.

If you want to be the first to know please subscribe to our newsletter here. We only send emails related with this competition and you can easily opt out at any time.

You can also follow us on twitter @givenwords

For further enquiries you can contact us at

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Five Words for a poem. National Poetry Day, 2017

Thank you to everyone who has sent us their words! In the video below you can see our selection of five of our favourites. You have until midnight on 25 August, National Poetry Day, to write and send us your poem which must include all five words.

We will award a prize for the Best Poem and a prize for the Best Poem by Under-16s. The winner of Best Poem will receive a copy of the New Zealand Poetry Yearbook 2017, courtesy of Massey University Press and the winner of the Under-16 category will receive a copy of Lonesome When You Go by Saradha Koirala courtesy of Mākaro Press. Further details of these books are below. In addition the winning poems will be translated into Spanish and published on the Spanish version of the project Palabras Prestadas.

And the five words are…

(If for some reason you cannot see or hear the words in
the video you will find them at the bottom of this post.)

The rules:

– The poem must include the five words.
– The words can be in any order.
– You may change the tense of verbs.
– Maximum length 200 words.
– Entry is free and open to all NZ citizens.
– Only one poem per person.
– Poems by under-16s must also include the age of the poet. We would prefer parents or teachers to send the poem on the child's behalf.
– FOR TEACHERS: You are very welcome to get your classes to participate, but please help us out by only sending in a selection of up to 10 of the best poems from your students. We have prepared a lesson plan for teachers.
– Participation means you allow us to reproduce your poem on Given Words.
– The deadline for entry is midnight on 25 August 2017.

Submit your poem by email including your full name and town of residence to:

To receive updates about the competition please subscribe to our newsletter here. We only send emails related with this competition and you can easily opt out at any time.

The poems will be judged by the poet and artist, Charles Olsen.  
Charles Olsen (b. Nelson, NZ, 1969) has published two collections of poetry in bilingual editions in Spain, Sr Citizen (Amargord, 2011) and Antípodas (Huerga & Fierro, 2016). His poems are included in Blackmail Press 28 and 39 and in the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017. In July 2017 he was awarded the XIII distinction Poetas de Otros Mundos by the Fondo Poético Internacional, in Spain, in recognition of the high quality of his poetic oeuvre. Since 2011 he has run the Spanish version of Given Words with over 100 editions. He makes poetry films and has had pieces shown in Liberated Words, Bristol; ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival, Berlin; Sinestesia, Barcelona; Filmpoem Festival, FelixPakhuis, Antwerp, among others. He is translating poems by New Zealand poets into Spanish and has translated work by Spanish and Colombian poets into English.

Prize for Best Poem:  
Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017
Edited by Jack Ross
Massey University Press, 2017

About the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017:

'Continually in print since 1951, when it was established by leading poet Louis Johnson, this annual collection of new poetry, reviews and essays is the ideal way to catch up with the latest poetry from established and emerging New Zealand poets.

'Issue #51 features 128 new poems by writers including featured poet Elizabeth Morton, Riemke Ensing, Mohamed Hassan, Michele Leggott, Kiri Piahana-Wong and Elizabeth Smither, as well as essays by Janet Charman, Lisa Samuels and Bryan Walpert, and reviews of 33 new poetry collections.'

More details on Massey University Press
Prize for Best Poem by Under-16s:  
Lonesome When You Go
by Saradha Koirala
Mākaro Press, 2016

Lonesome When You Go is an award-winning title on the Storylines Notable Books List 2017.

'Paige plays bass in high school rock band Vox Pop, which means keeping a steady rhythm even in their most raucous rock and roll moments. But in the tense build-up to the Rockfest competition, Paige finds she can’t control everything in her life, no matter how hard she practises and how loud she plays. There’s stuff happening in the band that she can’t put her finger on, a friend who can’t handle her own secret anymore and a mysterious guy who plays double bass like an angel. But there isn’t much time to sort things out – Rockfest looms and so does the end of the school year, when everything will change for good.'

More details on Mākaro Press

(The five words are: exhilarated, static, finish, kaitiakitanga and biscuitchip.)
Kaitiakitanga in the Māori Dictionary: (noun) guardianship, stewardship, trusteeship, trustee.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Given Words for National Poetry Day 2017

We are pleased to announce a new edition of Given Words for New Zealand's Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day, 2017. Last year the words were donated by Australian poet Les Murray, this year we have decided to do things a little differently.

We would like YOU to choose the five words.

In the first stage we would like you to send us a very short video saying one word of your choice (like in the promo video above). If you want to you can also briefly explain why you have chosen the word. Please send only one word per person. It can be a noun, verb or adjective, and any language spoken in New Zealand. Send the video by email to along with your name and town. You can record it on any device - the quality is not important as long as we can hear the word clearly! The deadline for sending your words is Wednesday 26 July, 2017. This is open to all New Zealand citizens and residents.

The second stage will begin on 1 August when we will publish a video with the selection of our five favourite words from all those you have sent us. Then you will have until National Poetry Day 25 August to send us your poem which must include each of the five words.

We will be awarding a prize for the Best Poem and a prize for the Best Poem by Under-16s. The winner of Best Poem will receive a copy of the New Zealand Poetry Yearbook 2017, courtesy of Massey University Press and the winner of the Under-16 category will receive a copy of Lonesome When You Go by Saradha Koirala courtesy of Mākaro Press. In addition the winning poems will be translated into Spanish and published on the Spanish version of the project Palabras Prestadas.

To receive updates about the competition please subscribe to our newsletter here. We only send emails related with this competition and you can easily opt out at any time.

Video credits: A big thank you to the Olive family and friends from Lower Hutt for donating your words!

Monday, 22 May 2017

Coming soon

Watch this space for the next edition of Given Words for Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day in New Zealand 2017. We will be launching the first stage of our poetry competition mid-June.

If you want to be the first to know what we are doing please subscribe to our newsletter here. We only send emails related with this competition and you can easily opt out at any time.

You can also follow us on twitter @givenwords

For further enquiries you can contact us at

In the meantime you can enjoy the poems from last year in the previous posts.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Given Poems – NZ National Poetry Day 2016

MANY THANKS TO ALL who have sent in their poems with the words donated by the Australian poet Les Murray for this special English version of the Spanish poetry project 'Palabras Prestadas' or Given Words.

Prize for the best poem selected by the Palabras Prestadas team. We are delighted to announce that as well as an overall prize we have decided to award an extra prize for children under 16. Congratulations to Sue Wootton from Dunedin for her poem Spring break at Right Whale Cottage and to Elizabeth Milne, aged 11, from Christchurch, for her poem Estuary Playground. Their poems below can be read in Spanish here and they will each receive a copy of the poetry collection Antípodas by Charles Olsen (published by Huerga y Fierro, Spain, 2016, bilingual edition).

The following poems were all written with the Given Words:
walled, crane-swing, jaw, blubber and blurts.

❆ ❆ ❆

Spring break at Right Whale Cottage

You push the lichened gate. It wheezes
wide. Towing your wheeled weekend
you walk beneath a bower of wild-rose,
blooms tucked tight and bursting to blurt.

Beneath the briar, the bone. The planted ribs
are barnacle-bereft and swim towards the sun,
towards the stars—a vast and breathing creature, once,
its partial carcass now your aisle.

Your mind crane-swings you to the beach behind:
the crimson sea, the stranded jaw, the tripots bubbling.
Walled in by splayed pickets taller than kahikatea
the men slide through the thorax, hack to spring

the joints from snug. You tug your case, walk through
the stench, the grease, the blubber-smoke sky.

Sue Wootton
Dunedin, New Zealand

Read the Spanish translation

❆ ❆ ❆

Estuary Playground

Playground walled by sand, sky
Swing on the crane-swing
Slip down the stork-slide
Spin on the heron-go-round
Mud blurts and blubbers
Reeds grapevine through silt
The tide goes in, out
A talkative jaw full of shark teeth
chases little fish in the estuary

Elizabeth Milne, age 11
Christchurch, New Zealand

Read the Spanish translation

❆ ❆ ❆

From the rafters

In the high rafters someone is throat singing
notes swirl round walls showing axe scars
on old trees, not a dry eye in the house
of exile, jaw bones tighten along contours
of maps digging stories to minds from docks
where the crane-swing flies over the hold
of imagined history –

we might borrow words from many places
bargain our past with whale blubber
and seal skins, there is nothing exotic
in some travesty carried out
in back yards far away, where waves meet rock
and economics wash over the tides with commodity.

He is throat singing in the rafters as if
no child ever blurts out home truths.
Alpaca fleece lies over the floor, ready
for fingers to mediate process, spinning
something out of nothing, in an effort
to turn back the clock on an old man
who understands nothing, because of
what he has heard while standing
among the forests of childhood. There
in the shadows of indigenous growth
without need of revision, is his history.

Pat White
Fairlie, New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆

Hope Less

Walled heartless
Senescent sensual soliloquy
Amputated wan hopeless warmonger

Parasitic fulcrum
Locked loaded leviathan
Incompetent impotent crane-swing

Illusion's receipt
Visceral visionary violence
Broken jaw of Gaia

soulless singularity
Pulchritudinous poetic pseudonym
Vampiring life's effulgent blubber

Insufferable hubris
blushing blasphemous blurts
Levity's fragile lost cause

Isaac James Bishara
Ngāti Tuwharetoa
Ngāti Ranginui
Wellington, New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆

High Tea

Higher ground, Lyttelton Harbour,
crane-swing, lower ground.
Two women titter-tatter, "High Tea?"

One's jaw fetishes small cakes,
the other - walled -
circumstances made her blubber,
waitresses blurt, "SUGAR-FREE?"

Sarah Walsh
Christchurch, New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆

Nobby and Joseph

He hauled the bulky leather collar from a peg
          at the back of the high walled barn,
                    heaved it up in a crane-swing arc

to fasten around Nobby’s burnished shoulders,
          a soft word or two blurted into his neck
                    with awkward country affection,

a rub of his jaw, a nudge, and down to the garden
          they trudged, Joseph close behind
                    the old Clydesdale, silky leg feathers

flaring wide in a lumbering dance, through the gate
          harnessed to a single-furrow plough
                    nosed firm into the earth.

Joseph held the reins lightly, the hand grips hard
          turned the sod slice by slice,
                    like strips of blubber flensed from

the sides of a dark-fleshed whale, rolling them
          over onto the back of the last neat row
                    until the whole field was an ocean

of green fringed waves. His turf is kept by another
          now, who sits astride a ride-on mower,
                    smoke wafting, incense-blue,

from the exhaust-pipe thurible, rumbling deepthroated
          down swathes of sombre lawn
                    flanked by granite headstones,

one, with Joseph’s name and a few shy words
          of love, tethered in gold letters,
                    blinks in the sinking sun.

Elizabeth Brooke-Carr
Dunedin, New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆

The crane

I blurt,
My stuttering cries
to stifled
I’m like blubber frozen to the
skin of a whale,
All that untapped energy
remorselessly by
the crushing weight of reason.
Reason bades me

unsticking from
Reason’s skin,
billows bold, bidding me rush,
past safety
cords and cordons,
to the inner sanctum
of the crane-swing,
the forbidden perimeter
sanctioned by
and plastic hatted people
who know about
such things.

to know,
the chilling truth
of child
slipped sloppily
in pit?
The jaw of death’s an
orange spire vertical
on the horizon.
An unseen man
in a
cubicle of
unseen gears
sports grizzled
to ten
tiny fingers and
a frightened
a whisper.

I rip reason from my skin,
feeling molten wax
warm the viscous
heat of my impulses.
I rush
the walled
warning signs,
and the tremors
of rubble
and ruin.

are a flash of colour,
a tightening
of fingers,
a fling of fears,
a sestet of heartbeats,
a quatrain of tears.

We’re the bared flesh of

both safe.

the man in
The glass cubicle
his load.

Hayley Solomon
Rapaura, Blenheim, New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆


Hundreds move through Waterloo Station;
Two are destined for a confrontation.
I wear a clerical collar;
He is smaller, older, undernourished,
Except by alcohol or meths.
Suddenly he is in front of me,
Blurts out, ‘Bloody priest!’
And launches a fist in a crane-swing at my jaw,
But his balance is off and he misses.
A moment of surprise
Too brief for fear.
Not a moment for blubbering,
Rather a moment for sadness
For a man walled in by bitterness
And seeking to smash his way out with his fists.
But why don’t I wear my collar now on Waterloo Station?
Who was defeated at Waterloo?

Barry Olsen
Aylesbury, UK

❆ ❆ ❆

Crane-swing the blanket
To muffle the sun
Your big eyes
Walled in purple
You pause
Your head against my jaw
Fingers tickle
Baby blubber
And you blurt giggles
Before escaping
To the light

Caleb Edwards
Wellington, New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆

Learned Things

In high walled institutions knowledge resides,
Students attend,
Teachers provide,
They blurt out their advice,
In classes and lectures,
Seeking debates, agreement and conjecture.

Online Forums buzz and tablets are tapped,
The library is open the books are not trapped,
Though it’s easy to enrol it’s not easy to achieve,
Emotions can be like quicksand,
And suck you down deep,
Some say it’s like a ride on a roller coaster,
Others think it’s like being in the circus ring,
Some will tell you a bungee jump,
Others a crane-swing.

When work is submitted and reports have been sent,
Results are expected,
Submission day came and went,
Praise will be welcome, criticism taken poor,
Though to blubber won’t help,
Take it on the jaw.

Once this term is over another will begin,
There will be a new intake,
The circle of learning, will start again.

Lance Bryan
Hamilton, New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆


We went for the Opera
for a weekend away
for the earthquakes
something to talk about

But the walled city
silenced us, its exhaustion
its boredom, its vertical ribs
a folly of sorts

At the cathedral
the blubbering, blurting
maw of shock was woven
round with spells and symbols
a lone crane-swing cast an arm
of blessing

And in the midst, a mother jaw
huge and gentle, meticulous
tearing away the caul
dis-mantling, a mother jaw
rending, sounding the soul
of the city

The stadium stage was set
with road cones, Mimi sang
her tragic young death
taxis came and went

The night was cold and
incredibly still

Jenny Dobson
Hastings, New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆


Horses, horses, hooves could be heard, billowing huge dust,
frothing of the Jaw, blubbering steam and water dribbling from the nose,
Digeridoos had been sending warnings to the Leealow, white man is coming,
Grabbing sacks, food and water by the crane swing, Alira and Biralee ran
Go blurts the mother, Tjana, go to the Galleewo.

Desert red ochre simmered, all over them, heat so exhausting, a wall of energy,
Darana sensation, helped Birwee lead the way, deep in the desert,
Alirra blubbering in fear, listening to the Digeredoo so clear, have no fear,
as the dark so dark,
Courage, courage you will not fail.

Christina Samana
Henderson, Auckland, New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆

In Frida’s Feet

Walled in by a watery, white, cast iron bath, my feet transposed
By a crane-swing of time smashed upon crumbled buildings
Lost somewhere inside the awing jaw of a bleached skeleton
Sitting in the shadow of an erupting volcano
Pantone Pompeiian red polished toe nails projected
On to my plain pearl-shelled ones.
The moment blurted and burst
Like the putrid blubber of a floating whale carcass
Pulled half drowned from the water.
The noose is both life and death giving
Unable to escape either even if you wanted to
Walled in by a watery, white, cast iron bath, our pain submerged.

Lara Sanderson
Dunedin, New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆

Family Trip to see the Zoo Elephant

It was him we came to see
The musty colossus.
A grey tarpaulin of hide,
Eyes walled in crinkle
Sallow tusks, platters for ears, and behind the bars
A prisoners shambling walk.
His tail was a Zulu fly swat, whipping lazily.
An Ayers rock of a beast
The ballet of his flat-footed, slow, swaying!
Delicate, his snout-search for food
A blurted out secret, that pop of pink at trunk tip.
The way he stuffed the sleeve of his jaw – the
Power of his crane-swing and bucketing!
A school rubbish bin smell hung in the air…
Something annoyed him
The earthquake of his trumpeting bellow!
Our audience faces marvelled
But you, too little, blubbered from your blue blanket.

Stephanie Mayne
Auckland, New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆

The build

The crane-swing like a pendulum
Turns everything into a mess off blubber,
I look in a daze indeed a stutter
To find a jaw of daggers standing next to my heart.

I blurt out a new song
A better more happy tune,
To find inner peace,
But destruction is all I can see.

The key from this mess is in the wound
And the wound is concrete and destructive like the dawn
It breaks who I am
Crushes my bones,
But my spirit is still with me
And is surely stuck and walled.

Antonia Robinson
Gisborne, New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆

hemmed jaw to jaw
they are walled off
from the burnt blubber
dripping bow to stern

the ocean gushes
in their ears
and blubber runs
past their toes

until it blurts over stern
where it has collected
drop by drop
just a crane-swing from the dock

Awhi Milne
Wellington, New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆


Once I was a warrior, equipped to be on the front lines of life.
Now I step up naked on the battlefield, walled in by doubt.
My only defence is your mercy, my only weapon is silence.
When the demons are pulling upon the strings in my mind
I can only wait until they tire of their cruelty,
And abandon me like a cat with a sparrow,
Watching my efforts to take flight again.
But my allies rally and I draw from their strength
Believing my victory is certain
And with this belief I advance on the front,
The laurels of achievement awaiting me.
But the battle is short lived, and uncertainty like a crane-swing returns.
My war cry becomes a suppliant blubber.
My jaw hangs for want of breath
And my heart hammers upon an anvil of fear.
My wounds are deep and I gaze at the sword in my hand
Beckoning my fall upon it,
But what sort of soldier would I be then
And at what cost to those around me?
For now, I must contend to stay broken on the field,
And blurt out the words I loathe to utter.
“Help me.”

Storm Reece
Invercargill, New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆

It blurted out of me.
It came tumbling out and found a solid surface on which to rest.
It settled in.
It began to get walled in by its own common place.

A crane-swing unable to smash it to where it belonged.
It has no home.
It is not wanted anywhere.

But, perhaps it is needed?
To replay as a memory unshared.

Could I blubber myself to sense.
Breaking a promise with myself,
To only result in its return.

It’s a lock Jaw of pain.
So obvious.
Claimed to be understood but still so foreign.

The power lies in its ability to settle.
To be calm,
But never disappear.

Jessica Monaghan
Auckland, New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆

Walled Eden

Fingers sink into moss-filled cracks,
a clenched jaw grazes sun baked brick.
From the rushes, a crane-swings neck rises,
a golden carp writhing in its beak.
It knows of wings that can take it beyond these walls.
With a crack of clay
a brick breaks.
Clasping hands fall away,
I fall with them
to lie winded, until a breath blurts from my chest.
The crane wades deeper into the marshes,
distancing itself from the heaving, blubbering mess in the corner.
A creature,
with no purpose in this walled Eden.

Freddie Gormack-Smith, aged 15
Christchurch, New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆


Within walled gardens
behind moss-dusted bricks
the crane-swing sways
chirps blurt from its chained seat
the whale pond
hides goldfish
in churning depths of blubber
the talkative jaw of the toucan slide
snaps shut

Amelia Kirkness, aged 12
Christchurch, New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆

My Saviour

Walled in.
Demolition danger.
Bottle up the blubbering.
Can’t breathe.
Now, jaws of life.
Blurt out a scream
Release floods.
Now free.

Valentina Turner-Buchanan, aged 14
Christchurch, New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆


The dog dashes through walled garden.
Earth blurts up gifts of dust.
Flowers blubber under crushing paws.
Jaw clenched,
the ball is gathered.
Back past the flowerbed.
Back past the crane-swing
once a cradle for a child

Ellie Smith, age 14
Christchurch, New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆


half-built walled courtyard
more moss than cobblestone
equipment left behind
blanket ropes and cushions
crane-swings over rubble
the moss is lava
digger fort
first to the top of the wall – don’t fall
too late
skinned knees
blurted insults – weakling, coward
a punch
not so weak after all
jaw must be broken
just bruised
run to mother
stay away from that place
blood on the moss

Isabella Bastida, age 14
Christchurch, New Zealand

❆ ❆ ❆

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Given Words — NZ National Poetry Day 2016

For National Poetry Day 2016, poets from New Zealand are invited to participate in a special one-off English version of the online Spanish poetry project, run by Nelson-born poet Charles Olsen, called Palabras Prestadas (or Given Words). You can write about anything but there are five words below chosen by the Australian poet Les Murray which must appear in the poem.

A selection of the entries will be published here at the end of September 2016 and the best poem will be translated into Spanish and receive a copy of the poetry collection Antípodas by Charles Olsen (see below).

– The words can be in any order and verbs can change tense.
– Entry is free and open to all NZ citizens.
– Maximum length 200 words.
– Only one poem per person.
– The poem must include the five words below.
– Participation means you give us permission to reproduce your poem on Palabras Prestadas.
– The deadline for entry is midnight on 26 August 2016.

Submit your poem by email including your full name and town of residence to:

Given Words selected by the Australian poet Les Murray.
The five words come from his poem ‘High Speed Trap Space’, which you can read below, and they are:






Photo © Gerald Zörner
In his letter which he sent with his five words Les Murray wrote "I'm 77, published in a number of countries. I'm well thought of in parts of the Anglosphere, including bits of my own part! I'm editor of the Sydney journal Quadrant."

High Speed Trap Space

Speeding home from town
in rainy dark. For the narrowness
of main roads then, we were hurtling.
A lorry on our tail, bouncing, lit our mirrors,
twinned strawberries kept our lights down

and our highway lane was walled
in froth-barked trees. Nowhere to swerve –
but out between trunks stepped an animal,
big neck, muzzle and horns, calmly gazing
at the play of speed on counter-speed.

Its front hooves up, planted on the asphalt
and our little room raced on to a beheading
or else to be swallowed by the truck’s high bow.
No dive down off my seat would get me low
enough to escape the crane-swing of that head

and its imminence of butchery and glass.
But it was gone.
The monster jaw must have recoiled
in one gulp to give me my survival.
My brain was still full of the blubber lip,

the dribbling cud. In all but reality
the bomb stroke had still happened.

Ghost glass and blurts of rain still showered
out of my face at the man
whose straining grip had had

to refuse all swerving.

(From the collection by Les Murray Waiting for the Past (Black Inc., 2015).)

The prize for the best poem will be the collection of poetry Antípodas by Charles Olsen published in a bilingual edition by Huerga y Fierro

ANTIPODAS takes us from the everyday to surreal moments, with touches of humour and mystery, without abandoning the sublime imagery characteristic of the author. Unadorned, fresh and very emotive poetry.

CHARLES OLSEN (b. Nelson 1969) Artist and poet. He travelled to Spain in 2003 because of his interest in the Spanish painters Velasquez and Goya, and to study flamenco guitar. His painting have been shown in London, Madrid, Barcelona, Oporto, Paris, Wellington, and the Saatchi Gallery, London.
His first short film The dance of the brushes won second prize in the I Festival Flamenco de Cortometrajes, Madrid, 2010. He is director alongside Lilián Pallares of AntenaBluethe observed word – creating booktrailers, filmpoems and short films in the field of literature. Their two film poems In Silence and Book of Traces were shown at the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in 2014.
Charles Olsen has published the bilingual poetry collections Sr. Citizen (Amargord Ediciones, 2011, with foreword by New Zealand poet, Pat White) and Antípodas (Huerga y Fierro, 2016). His poetry has been published in numerous anthologies in Spain, Colombia and in New Zealand’s Blackmailpress (issues bmp 28 and bmp 39). He presented his poetry recital Agita Flamenco with flamenco piano and flamenco dance in the New Zealand pavilion of the Venice Biennale and the SGAE, Madrid, 2012. Since 2011 he runs the online poetry project Palabras Prestadas (Given words) with the participation of poets from throughout the Spanish-speaking world. A number of New Zealand poets have donated words to the project and Charles Olsen has translated their poems into Spanish.
Blog: pensamientoslentos (slow thought)

More information about Antípodas in The Big Idea