Monday, 25 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

❆ ❆ ❆

1 comment:

  1. Well done to all participants. I enjoyed the words & reading the other entries. Looking forward to next year. Thank you to Charles Olsen for taking the time to be the judge. :-)