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.

NZBOOKAWARDS.NZ/
NATIONAL-POETRY-DAY
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.


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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


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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


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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


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Hope Less

Human
Walled heartless
Senescent sensual soliloquy
Amputated wan hopeless warmonger

Human
Parasitic fulcrum
Locked loaded leviathan
Incompetent impotent crane-swing

Human
Illusion's receipt
Visceral visionary violence
Broken jaw of Gaia

Human
soulless singularity
Pulchritudinous poetic pseudonym
Vampiring life's effulgent blubber

Human
Insufferable hubris
blushing blasphemous blurts
Levity's fragile lost cause


Isaac James Bishara
Ngāti Tuwharetoa
Ngāti Ranginui
Wellington, New Zealand


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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


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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


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The crane

‘Stop!’
I blurt,
My stuttering cries
transmuted
to stifled
gasps.
I’m like blubber frozen to the
skin of a whale,
immobile.
All that untapped energy
trapped
remorselessly by
the crushing weight of reason.
Reason bades me
scream.

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

Who’s
to know,
though,
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
beard
in
close
juxtaposition
to ten
tiny fingers and
a frightened
mouth,
wobbling
a whisper.

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

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

Vulnerable,
We’re the bared flesh of
Beluga,
Pulsing.

Then,…
safe…
both safe.

Oblivious,
the man in
The glass cubicle
sets
his load.


Hayley Solomon
Rapaura, Blenheim, New Zealand


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WHOSE WATERLOO?

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


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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


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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


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Christchurch

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


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RUN

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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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Vulnerable

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


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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.

Unshakeable.
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


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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


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Playground

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


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My Saviour

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


Valentina Turner-Buchanan, aged 14
Christchurch, New Zealand


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Gone

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


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Forgotten

half-built walled courtyard
more moss than cobblestone
equipment left behind
forgotten
re-purposed
blanket ropes and cushions
crane-swings over rubble
the moss is lava
digger fort
laughter
friends
first to the top of the wall – don’t fall
too late
skinned knees
blubbering
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
forgotten


Isabella Bastida, age 14
Christchurch, New Zealand


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