Saturday 14 September 2019

Given Poems for National Poetry Day 2019

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE who sent their poem with the five words chosen by poets from the collection More of Us. We received a record 200 poems and have made a selection from these to publish here on Given Words. The winning poems have been selected by Charles Olsen, Mikaela Nyman and Clare Arnot. (You can read about them here.)

Charles Olsen comments on behalf of the judges: “In choosing those poems that stood out for us we were not only concerned with the quality of the poems but we also wanted to be surprised by original and unexpected uses of the five words – not easy with words like ‘solitude’ and ‘self-acceptance’. ‘Solitude she writes in the mission log as Earth swings by’ begins Astronaut, one of the most unexpected settings with its reflections of a female astronaut lost in space. Kume with its dreamy evocation and reverence for nature has ‘Solitude the flower which hasn’t dropped’ and along similar lines with its rhythmic images of a figure in a natural landscape Uncle Thornton Skis to Work ‘an elderly man glides through the fresh solitude’. We appreciated the tremendous line ‘time finds solitude in me’ in the poem Still here with its sparseness and the directness of an elderly person, and where, in contrast to many of the other poems received, self-acceptance is no longer a goal. We enjoyed the humour in the ‘air of self-acceptance’ of the goldfish in It is no small feat… and the ‘cheerful self-acceptance’ of the dog in Beach, Dog, Sky, Sea. Talking of animals, the poem that stood out for us is commuting with angela, which hooked us emotionally us with its visual presentation echoing the creatures, ‘those grey spotted tongues’, that frame the narrative, along with the multiple details and references that add a sense of place and time, and link the personal and the universal.

“In many ways it was more difficult to select the poems by the younger poets as they took more risks squeezing words into strange expressions. Like Astronaut, mentioned above, Pluto – The forgotten planet goes out into the solar system with a thoughtful philosophical approach and a great final twist. The Monsters in Men is a dark cautionary poem constructed around descriptive pairings ‘sweet/rot’, ‘whirlpool/drowned’ that create a graphic picture of the ‘monster’. Another vivid character is that of Mrs Ash with unnerving fragments of her story such as ‘That night he was tidied up.’ Some poems reflected on stories of migration – like those in the collection More of Us – such as I stand/in a world alone… which appears simple but speaks volumes of how circumstances can change us with its revealing line ‘I used to be like them.’ Also related with travel is the humorous not again with its evocation of winter, ‘face melts on the glass/woolly coat’, and the wonderful ‘Self-acceptance misses the bus.’ In the end we were all captured by and became immersed in the internal world of Vines. The whisper and circle of S and R sounds through the poem invoke the curl, grasp and unfurl of the growing vine, there is lovely alliteration and both ‘solitude seeping’ and ‘self-acceptance churning’ cleverly take these concepts into a poetic world.”

We are delighted to announce the winning poets. The winner of Best Poem is Lily Holloway for their poem commuting with angela and the winner of the Under-16 category is Thalia Peterson for her poem Vines. They both receive copies of More of Us and All of Us and a $50 PaperPlus voucher courtesy of Landing Press. Congratulations from Given Words and Landing Press. The winning poems have also been translated into Spanish for Palabras Prestadas.

Below are the winning poems. We also invite you to read our selection of the rest of the poems from adults here and from under-16s here. All the entries had to contain the words: solitude, pulse, moving, circles and self-acceptance.

commuting with angela

last night i walked            her dog                    boots scuffing concrete solitude
glistening in puddles                   pissing on laingholm poles

she is scared of slugs                    those grey spotted tongues
                    inching under porchlight
           towards her door              invasion       moving morning perspiration

hold her thigh          —not hard or that’s charlie’s horse
i’m driving                but slips hand into yours
           two fingers
           circle your pulse                              to the backstreet boys

           self-acceptance is
frida on her back                         staring mirror ceilings                     strokes
skinny west auckland signs
it is what it is
she says, slugs pop like blisters     rat lungworm burst forth            confetti larvae

           and we cannot survive it

Lily Holloway
Torbay, Auckland


A mellow, silent song whispers through,
Fingers grasping the sides, spindly and moist.

Solitude seeping through its veins
Forever hugging its dying hope,
The pulse of pattering paws below,
Creeping past, ignored.

A blind slick form, no moving to and fro
But the roll of the dark and light
Wrapped in delicate furls of emerald skin,
Self-acceptance churning in the stems as molten gold.
Circling its way around the limbs of its life,
Its home.

Thalia Peterson, aged 12

About the Poets

Lily Holloway is a 20-year old undergraduate student studying English and Ancient History at the University of Auckland. They are an active member of the queer community and are passionate about New Zealand literature, op-shopping, and Teletubbies. In 2019 they were shortlisted for the Monash Undergraduate Writing Prize and won highly commended in the Divine Muses - New Voices, Emerging Poets competition. Their academic essay on The Lord of the Rings is to be published in the university's Interesting Journal and they have a short story coming out in the October edition of Mindfood magazine.

Thalia Peterson is a happy-go-lucky 12 year old home-schooled girl. She lives in rural Canterbury with her parents and twin sister, Saphra. Her passions include reading, writing, piano, art and of course, chickens. Thalia spends every waking moment being ‘arty’. When she is not being creative, she is outside with her precious pet chickens, whilst listening for the little brown owl in the neighbouring orchard.

Continue reading our selection of poems from adults here and from under-16s here. You can read the poems in Spanish here.

Given Poems for National Poetry Day 2019 – Adults

Here is our selection of the entries for Best Poem for the Given Words competition for National Poetry Day. They all had to contain the five words solitude, pulse, moving, circles and self-acceptance, chosen by poets from the collection More of Us.

You can read the winning poem Commuting with Angela by Lily Holloway along with the judge's comments here and the poems from the Under-16s category here.

❆ ❆ ❆


Solitude she writes in the mission log as Earth swings by,
a faint blue pulse in the window while all the instruments blink.
Too late she raises her thumb to blot it out like Mike Collins once did.
Those astronauts understood fragile, watched God float past
in the dark. At least up here with the stars she knows the deal,
knows who she is, writes self-acceptance in bold, circles it
as Earth swims by again like a germ in a dish. She supposes
it’s pretty, raises her thumb. Mike Collins was always her favourite.
Now, there was a man who knew his way around wonder, could take it
or leave it, go back to his fishing, his paintings of flowers. Maybe
one day a pale smudge of moon would move him to tears and he’d stop,
raise a hand, then simply wade out in the river, like her, be gone.

Lissa Moore
Palmerston, Otago

❆ ❆ ❆


Breathing is the long grass moving
Solitude the flower which hasn’t dropped
A moss holds the night fast
Each cough a pulse of dampness
A pressing moko of self-acceptance
Silent warriors line the banks
Breathe calm breathe
Balance fine wings on a slender branch
Imagine your face carved in rock
The current beneath you pulling deep circles
Measured leaning into each stroke
You carry your flower downstream
Alone on the river

Stuart Airey

❆ ❆ ❆

Still Here

We are uncertain:
our futures, our pasts, our very bodies.
‘Very’ bodies, indeed!
Very slow, very sore, very tired.

Hope lives closer now though,
in twitching sparrows,
a curtain’s lift and furl,
every pulse,

Self-acceptance was terribly important once.
All those circles of pride and shame.
Where is it now, this moving self?
My edges are so porous,
and maybe they always were,
but I feel… capacious;
time finds solitude in me.

People fear uncertain edges
and we are so many here.

Ella J. Robinson

❆ ❆ ❆

Flower Bones

The flower bones bloom in solitude
Book-pressed and weighted after maceration
Piled up, an archived field for later beside the bed.

Moving under the covers,
Crepuscular and cold as if to plunge yourself
Into some wild body of water
Contentedly engulfed to your fingertips.

Circulation strangled feet
Fossicking for the bottom,
Finding it
Snapping back
Rising again.

Thoughts pulse in subsonic circles
Self-acceptance sucked up
Through a metal straw
Being in love is a tapu state
And in the darkness, the flower bones bloom.

Lara Sanderson

❆ ❆ ❆

The Announcement

“I’m moving to greener pastures” (his announcement caused a hush)
“I’m just going round in circles here. To be honest, I’ve had enough.”

“I came to this town for some solitude, just wanted to be left alone.
But the pulse of life here is far more frantic than any place I’ve known.”

“So I’ve done a lot of soul-searching, self-acceptance and the like
And I’ve made up my mind. I’m outa here. Tomorrow, I’m on me bike.”

The Drama Club members were stunned. They’d taken him to heart.
But the canny director saw right through his ruse. “My boy – you’ve got the part.”

Murray Orchard

❆ ❆ ❆

In this breath

Circles of wind flurries
pulse through pines
behind this cottage

word floats as a whisper
within needles moving
among dark branches

a reminder of indigenous
people who say thank you
for being there

instead of I love you
does their self-acceptance of
another desire no ownership

words pine-needles people
this place is not for solitude
one thing flies to another today

the earth breathes
as only earth does waiting
for snow to settle on branches

Pat White

❆ ❆ ❆

fritters in solitude

why kai moana? i eat no other animals, but these creatures
are somehow different.
i suppose we move in different circles.

do these mussels have a pulse? my blender certainly does.
please excuse the cruel joke. a coping mechanism,
self-acceptance of my shell-fish intentions.

of course, i don't use a blender.
they gasp open in the steam.
i chop them roughly with my favourite knife
and mix in the veg
and bind them with as little batter as possible
like my dad does it.

and soon i'm the only animal in the room,
cooking fritters in solitude.

Kim Shepherd
Mt Roskill, Auckland

❆ ❆ ❆

Uncle Thornton Skis to Work

the sun is only just up on a night-fall of powder
trees line the hidden street like evergreen sentinels
their white-scarved limbs pointing every which way

an elderly man glides through the fresh solitude
all rhythm and routine, stretching one leg then the other
his skinny skis shush—shush shush—shush shush—shush

warm breath puffs as he steams ahead, a visual pulse
to match a textbook herringbone up a slight slope
each step moving him further away from memory

woolly as self-acceptance that spirals loose
and elliptical just like the circles he tracks
each winter like a captured echo or souvenir

or the habit of half a grapefruit, strong coffee,
toes that find boots and bindings, arms that pump,
and a mind that returns the ageing body home again

Jenna Heller

❆ ❆ ❆

To my son, on his 9th birthday

You’re in our bed again
Such a big boy to still sometimes need your mum
when Lego monsters become animate in the dark.
Limbs still moving even in rest
Slowing pulse on white throat
Lips apart, breath whistling
I feel you sleep as you did inside me,
when my body formed a circle of protection.
What do I wish for you?
Not academic prizes, important job, fat bank account.
(Rising pressure, nagging worries, never having enough.)
But the space to always be yourself
To revel in solitude, giving your mind space to breathe
That the universe sends you someone who will love you as I love you (even as you snore)
And that you do not take so long to find self-acceptance
As I did, doubting every fibre of my body
The first time I held you in the world.

Sarah Ell

❆ ❆ ❆

Beach, Dog, Sky, Sea

Weekend, and solitude, finally.
The beach beckons. I taste
sharp, salt-strung air, savour
sand-suck and grasp, watch
moving mounds of kelp flurry
shoreward in the waves’ pulse and
pour, hear a gull scream as it circles
above, wind-tossed, erratic.
My three legged dog hobbles after
thrown sticks she will never catch – such cheerful self-acceptance!
I think
Perhaps nearly there is really there
Perhaps we find ourselves in the trying
Perhaps it’s enough for things to be
Beach, dog, sky, sea – and on occasion, me…

Stephanie Mayne

❆ ❆ ❆

Inner nut’s hell

Scientists say that the peanut cannot be a pulse
as though it’s a legume it has too much fat
yet chickpeas and lentils, peas and beans
get to shake off their pod days and gain a new name
this fat-shaming re-naming makes me afraid
for each young peanut’s sense of self-acceptance
especially if they have access to magazines
those could make a young legume start thinking in circles
until it decides it should start moving more
exercise, shift the bulk from its smooth nutty hips
or would it lie peaceful in protein-filled solitude
knowing in its mono- and polyunsaturated heart
that it’s the type of fat that counts

Fern Campbell

❆ ❆ ❆


When undercurrent unrest
into action

we pulse.

And what we thought
were steps in solitude
begin moving

towards others.

The movement stirs
reaching out
from self acceptance
to self determination.

Nafanua Purcell
Hastings, Hawke’s Bay

❆ ❆ ❆

When I Grow Up I Want to Be Like Lizzo

when I grow up I want to be like Lizzo
fizzing with self-acceptance          self-love          self
always moving
          moving forwards
          moving hearts          breaking hearts          to shake them up
to re-make them
breathing life          making life worth living
pulse of beats and words heard by those
who most need them
never dancing circles around truth
but hitting          head on

when I grow up I want to be like Lizzo
dizzying attitude          full of soul
knowing we are never whole          in solitude
seeking seclusion breeds          disillusion
so she
          she demands attention
                    commands stage
                                      rages against isolation
                                                  offers salvation
                    sensational education
          how      to      be      yourself

when I grow up I want to be like Lizzo
busy taking up space
               facing world

Kate Spencer

❆ ❆ ❆

Winding down

Grandfather clock with dicky ticker pendulum
Checks my pulse (tick tock _ tock)
Each in our solitude, together in the dusty hall (tick _ tick)
You, trying to make circles, me, trying to keep moving
Struggling our way to self-acceptance
Together in the dusty hall (tick _)

Ruth Brassington

❆ ❆ ❆

Eggs Benedict

Damp clothes send out vapour shields,
Blocking the view of the depressants
On the other side of the glass,
Moving like disturbed ants
Clutching the pulse of life under their overcoats.

You sit at the table,
Mingled mutterings stealing your sense of solitude.
A circle bearing the number nine
Lays claim to your territory.
A red and white circle like a stop sign.

And the cup sits common place on the saucer,
It's self acceptance in paying lip service to the public,
Annoys you.
Metal implements wait, swaddled in napkin,
And enhancers stand side by side, unshaken.

And then they come,
Eggs like cumulus clouds,
Hollandaise coated, hiding the sun,
Ready for you to release the molten light
That will bath the green foliage resting atop of golden crunch.

Warmth and flavour amalgamate
And nullify winters bite.

Glenda Lassen

❆ ❆ ❆

First try | twenty-fifth try

Moving in circles,
solitude stings; then, a pulse
of self-acceptance.

Gabriel Field
Palmerston North

❆ ❆ ❆

It is no small feat
to catch the attention
of a goldfish-and hold it.
The one who approaches me
as I peer through the glass,
doesn’t live in lonely solitude,
it has three companions.
Moving lazily up and down,
their lives are spent
cruising in circles
in the search for food
or, perhaps, for excitement.
Anyway, the one who looks at me
with unblinking scrutiny,
its fins beating a faint pulse
of curiosity,
has an air of self-acceptance
that, on my side of the glass,
I envy.

Lesley Vlietstra

❆ ❆ ❆

My pulse doesn’t like solitude,
          Or so I’ve noticed the past shored-up
Months or so –
My          dis          jointed heart beat
                    Moving, like an Olympic
Swimmer in perfect


From an anticipating
Stillness to a           sprint
In seconds,
          Loneliness sucks

It’s never quite resting –
Just a hint of hope
          A hint of gold

Muscles          taut beneath smooth skin
And pretend self-acceptance
When really, you
Yourself, blowing
Bubbles in          circles
Around his bloody head like          halos
Like how you can close your
                    Tired eyes
And pretend you’re          flying
But all you          want to do is

Emma Sidnam

❆ ❆ ❆

The Spaces In-Between

What of the ones who inhabit
the spaces in-between?
Not the first-come
earth-pulse takers;
the dispossessed.
Nor those who came late
to find their place or
to take the place of others.
But what of those who move
between worlds?
The together twined?
The married-ins?
The plastics?
Heart ties twisted.
Tell me who? Who told us this:
that humanity should be viewed
through a lens of naked solitude
as if we
aren’t all interwoven in
the same shaggy robe
of history?
Why do we heed the all-wise
the ones who categorise?
Pinning people in place
like broken butterflies
with labels that glide onto some
like a gentle glove
and clamp onto others
like a thorny crown.
Self-acceptance withering
in the hoarfrost circles of other’s
self-imposing posturing.
What do we do
with this disingenuous truth
that whispers to the old ones
sneers at the youth
saying you
must be either one
or the other.
Or else you

Barbara Uini
Manurewa, Auckland

❆ ❆ ❆

After the flight

Tell me of these things
which inhabit you       through silence,

which for a moment
you imagine me imagining.

                            That opaque, still water beneath
              mangrove shadows at high tide. Or how she put in an earring,
graceful beside the line of her moving wrist, and you caught
              her eye in the mirror. How it happened –

                                          how you came here.       Moments in
                            the solitude of morning darkness. The feeling of rain
              against the pulse at your neck. The slow circles
of stars towards dawn. These wonders.

You move in and out of self-acceptance, even now.
There is nothing between you and the river.

A shadow on rough rock
                                        becomes angular, becomes
                                                                           a seabird in flight;
                                                                                         impulse briefly becomes desire.   

If I cannot sleep and it is raining,
I may think of you standing in the rain.

Olivia Macassey

❆ ❆ ❆


Pulse softly, wounded world.
Slow breathing, listless tides.
Life is glass thin. Crude sutures stitch years.
Solitude is a border to the day.
Halfway to the end, with cracking knees,
I inhabit myself.
Self-acceptance means life
is familiar as an old blanket,
unrecognized as a foreign city.
Circles spiral inwards,
moving towards silent endpoint.
Pulse softly, wounded world.

Victor Billot

❆ ❆ ❆


I close the door, shutting out
lists and dirty dishes.

In this hard-won solitude
I am not alone,

fecund black dots
and my piano await.

My fingers start moving, then flying
circles, leaps, arpeggios, repeats

until my last piece for the evening,
Poulenc’s Novelette in E minor,

resolves itself through glorious harmonies
in a glimmer of self-acceptance.

My breathing and pulse slow.
I rise, and head for the door.

Tui Bevin

❆ ❆ ❆

Fear not thoughts of solitude;
For solitude still beats a pulse
With cadence slow but ever moving;
Gentle undulating circles
Within doubts of self-acceptance
Often unexpressed in words.

Fear not consequence of words
Fear not they’ll cause solitude.
Hold fast instead to self-acceptance
Feeling still the measured pulse
In gentle undulating circles
Within mind and body moving.

Value things you find moving;
Waste not life in idle words.
Feel security in circles
Of your friends – yet solitude
Still has place, still has pulse,
Still builds a base of self-acceptance.

Ditch all doubt of self-acceptance;
Roll the stone, keep it moving!
Let the lifeblood course and pulse
Through your veins till wings of words
Lift you up from solitude
Enclosing you in gentle circles.

Circle as the eagle circles,
Climbing high on self-acceptance
In the wave of solitude
Or with friends likeminded, moving
Silently – no need for words,
Distinguishing the measured pulse

Of life and love. Respect the pulse
That bears you up in silent circles,
Driving out self doubt. No words
Can substitute for self-acceptance
In a world that’s always moving;
Moving you to solitude.

Embrace the pulse of self-acceptance
Keep the circles ever moving
Fear not words nor solitude.

Hugh de Lautour

❆ ❆ ❆

Under-16s – Poems for National Poetry Day 2019

Here is our selection of the entries for Best Poem by Under-16s for the Given Words competition for National Poetry Day. They all had to contain the five words solitude, pulse, moving, circles and self-acceptance.

You can read the winning poem Vines by Thalia Peterson along with the judge's comments here and the poems from the adults' category here.

❆ ❆ ❆

A Good Thing

Glancing around the room,
I sit down in the corner,
My little haven of solitude,
In this ever moving world.
People say I should try to make new friends,
But round in circles I go.
I feel my pulse, and it moves to a different
pace than others.
I always thought that was a bad thing,
But then I close my eyes.
I hear a voice, inside my head,
In likeness, but not quite the same as my own,
A single, simple word, loud and resonating,
I feel my eyes open and a smile touch my lips.
I feel my pulse, and it moves to a different
beat than others.
I used to think that was a bad thing,
But now I’m not so sure.
Because I am different,
And maybe that’s a
Good thing.

Evangeline Goedhart, aged 14

❆ ❆ ❆

Pluto – The forgotten planet

Isn’t it enough to be an entity,
surrounded by space dust?
Solitude hastening my every movement,
moving, forever moving,
never stopping to breathe.
My pulse, non-existent:
I have no sense of self-acceptance,
as a forgotten planet in the abyss that is space.

As I circle the sun,
all alone in the darkness,
I am beside my whānau,
but rejected by the wise souls of the International Astronomical Union.

In 248 of their years they will all be dead,
I will be merely one year older.

Izzy Clyne, aged 11
Villa Maria College, Christchurch

❆ ❆ ❆

The Monsters In Men

Moth to a flame,
Human to a monster.
Promising you the sun and moon,
The tale that he tells to girls like you,
You think that you are special,
But you're all the same to him.

His sickeningly sweet grin,
Voice oozing like honey.
It's a look that will rot your teeth,
But it's a look you crave so much.

The whirlpool eyes,
That circle your heart,
If you look close enough,
You see the previous lovers,
That have drowned before.

His slender spider arms,
creep up and down your body.
In seconds he could have you trapped,
In his sticky web,
Unable to move an inch.

Maybe deep, deep, inside,
He has a heart, he has a pulse.
But don't look too far down,
Or you'll fall and break your back.

But you're too busy trying to ignore,
Your missing teeth,
water in your lungs,
Broken bones,
And sticky tomb of solitude.

For it is too late,
He's already moved on.
So now you're forced to watch
Another whose self-acceptance fails.

Grace Richards, aged 14
Lower Hutt

❆ ❆ ❆

Mrs Ash

Mrs Ash,
Pulses around the room,
in circles.

keeping watch.

She remembers the night.
The rifle was in his hand.

That night he was tidied up.

Mrs Ash,
Stares at his bed,

Mrs Ash, Still waits

Mrs Ash,
misses wanting…

misses wanting solitude,

Because now she’s had enough.

Mrs Ash,
Waits for the telegram.

But then…

For the first time in years.

The harmonica,
His self acceptance.

Mrs Ash,
Listens from his bed,

Her heart, moving to the tune.

To the new weeping notes.

Evie Johnson, aged 14

❆ ❆ ❆

Moving in circles
Dancing on ice
It takes
All of her courage
To glide
Her pulse following the beat of the music
Judges scrutinising her every move
She won't let them take away
Her feeling
The feeling of pure solitude
She slowly builds
Her confidence
Turning criticism into praise
Turning their stares into looks of awe
And most importantly
Turning her negativity into
Self acceptance

Jessie Alison, aged 13
Queens High School, Dunedin

❆ ❆ ❆

I stand
In a world alone
With people unlike me

My family, miles away
Maybe six feet under
Or barely alive

These people that take care of me
They don’t understand
I used to be like them

Spinning in circles
Moving with the herd
Then it changed

My home destroyed
Family separated
Everything lost

Mind racing
Pulse pounding
I left behind the only home I knew

Through this journey
I had to learn
Self-acceptance, confidence, strength

All things I have learnt
Yet here I stay
Alone in my solitude

Angela Ciora, aged 13
Ashburton College, Ashburton

❆ ❆ ❆

Far too long. Walking in circlesto pass the 
time.Counting every pulse that circles my
Pretty annoying)But it’s
Keeping sane.
I                 Ever
Know              If
I                   Get
Self- acceptance

I’ll have to find out
I can’t wait to get out so I can move around

Caleb Garrick, aged 15
Mairehau High School, Christchurch

❆ ❆ ❆

not again

rushing footsteps
door clangs in front
face melts on the glass
woolly coat pulse beats
crystallised sweet sweating
spine down down moving down
circles squish beside each other
silence like solitude
get out of my personal space!

self-acceptance misses the bus

Sophia, aged 14
Rangitoto School, Auckland

❆ ❆ ❆

A Self-Help Column From the Clouds

Moving across a denim-blue sky at sunset,
wandering minds run circles around you,
forcing a form with indistinct thoughts.

As night falls and pulses slow,
gazers in solitude will lose track of your motions.
Still you will drift before the stars,
made shapeless by lack of light, and
now only obscuring things in the sky
imaginations can shape.
I wonder, is this when you are truest?

Meaningless and limitless, and
untouched by the graceless fingers
of interpretation? Tell me,
how do you find self-acceptance
as minds and winds can shape you so?

I am scarcely even everchanging,
but cannot meet my own eyes
as you do over every lake and sea.

Amelia Kirkness, aged 15

❆ ❆ ❆

Five Words

The pen sits quietly in my hand
waiting for the words to explode from within.

I sit in my chair in my solitude,
trying to analyse everything I am.

How to describe me?
I’m complex, to say the least.
Nothing makes sense, not in my head.
I’m not fond of permanence.
You can’t bend it to fit your needs.

I like things to be moving.
A current you can harness and ride like the wind.

My impact is hard to control,
splashing out and withdrawing randomly.
I’m a pulse
going up and going down and back, on repeat.

I wish I knew who I was,
the inside and outside of what makes up me.

I can’t quite get a grasp on self-acceptance,
its elusive, stays out of reach.

I’m part of a few different groups,
I cant say I’m disliked – I’m a bit popular.

My life moves in repetitive circles.
Predictable, but malleable, open to interpretation.

How to describe me?
I stare at the words on my page.
Five measly words, they’re my life.

Megan Perin, aged 12

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The life of a refugee

A girl, in the state of solitude. Standing there motionless, staring at her reflection in the water, hoping its a lie., but its not. She tries to curl the corners of her lips but they fade away after a second. Looking down at the scars on her legs, bruises on her arms. She keeps having to move, place after place. Her self acceptance drifts away like a leaf in the wind, as she blocks the water from view.

She's scared… thinking about what could happen in the future, thinking about what to do with her dreadful past. People in her family, the sickness got to them. Her pulse in her arm starts racing, beating as fast as paparazzis clicking their cameras.

Desperately, she wants to escape her struggles, her head is spinning in circles, wondering where to go next. Her life is at stake, begging to herself that she won’t suffer the way her family did. But sadly she is.

Emma Roughton, aged 11
Te Uku School, Waikato Area

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We are selfish

We are dust particles
Floating in solitude
Yet only millimetres away from each other

We are mostly misunderstanding the reasons of creation
Hypnotised to follow the circles created by another

We are caterpillars stuck in the circle of life
We have a few days of floating in sunshine and flowers where happiness is ever present
The remaining years are spent curled inside a chrysalis waiting for those days

We are drawn to comfort
Listening to music in time with the pulse in which comfort provides

We create a world around us that is comfortable and perch ourselves on the throne in the centre.

We paint on masks until we realise self-acceptance
We accept but never fully understand the reasons we needed that mask in the first place

We are controlling and powerful, able to construct societies extremely complex
But we fail.

We fail because our species is slowly dying
Instead of moving forward our world is plunging backwards

We share our resources with thousands of other animals
The butterflies are pushed aside, the human race comes first

We are smart enough and powerful enough to stop it
But we like our comfort and the pulse it provides

We are selfish.

Rosemary Moore, aged 15

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Social Flow

I find myself adrift
in the vast sea of people
as I try to steer myself towards the
‘Right’ friends, the
‘Right ‘ lover.
Constantly trying to escape sinking
into the depths of solitude.
alongside strangers
who become friends but ever so swiftly
slip away
into the masses.
around the other inhabitants of this world
as I try to gain a foothold on the sea floor,
try to resist the
currents of time
that threaten to break friends.
away from old friendship
while the heaving waves mirror my pulse.
I try to keep up
with the tide of pop culture.
Seeking out affection but
Receiving only the bittersweet self-acceptance
that comes with rejection.
between the ever spinning, always overlapping
social circles,
as I try to find one that suits me.
along the surface
as I struggle to move.
Stuck in the chaos that is our
social flow.

Thoma Perin, aged 15

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Wish Upon a Star

The pulse of solitude ripples across the night sky
The moving circles of the stars trailing behind
Like streamers floating through the air
On a vivid summers day

Lacing throughout the heavens with nimble fingertips
A memory of things left behind
A sober self-acceptance of what is
The fine dust of the past
Rests upon the glowing orbs
That punctuate the sky with grace
Weaving in and out through the clouds
The ring of silence echoing
Like shattered glass on rock
The promise of falling to land
Withering in brittle stalks
Nobody thinks about the wishes of stars
Yet give them the power to grant them.

Saphra Peterson, aged 12

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Painting Summer

Painted on circles,
The pulse of my brush mirrors
Leaves falling, landing, rippling in the summer spring.
I capture, the Willow vast in its size
swaying, moving, dancing in the breeze.
The land I set myself upon
brings me peace, solitude.
As I continue to place colour onto canvas,
I allow myself into a state of self-acceptance.
As the sun rests I lay the painting dry,
set in place for the next summer to arrive.

George Perry, aged 15
Lower Hutt

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