Rotorua, Aotearoa New Zealand, November 2020
Te reo pohewa: Poems by young Rotorua writers
Published by the Rotorua Mad Poets Society
Edited by Terry Locke and Jackie Evans
This new collection of poetry from Rotorua’s young people, launched at the Rotorua Library on November 7, was envisaged as exploring the theme of “I am from…”.
The I Am From Project was set in motion by two people in the United States, George Ella Lyon and Julie Landsman, who were concerned about the increased division they saw operating in their country. “I am from…”, in fact, is the heading of the first section of this book. At the end of 2019, however, we could not have anticipated that the country would go into Level 4 lockdown on March 25th of this year. Mad Poets could no longer meet at their usual venue of Atlantis Books, and local students found themselves working from home with resources their teachers were scrambling to find for them. Unsurprisingly during this time, a number of them wrote poems sharing their experience of lockdown. Te reo pohewa contains a section of 16 “Lockdown poems” which we think offer readers a sense of what the lockdown experience was like for young people.
Mad Poets Rotorua has met continually on a weekly basis since 1994, and has published 14 volumes of poetry since that date, including this collection of Rotorua young people’s poetry.
– Terry Locke, Editor
A sampling of poems from the collection
Lockdown by Caitlyn Lye (11)
A thick white
glaze covers the
Not a footprint
or a soul in the
All at home, staying
in our loving
Lockdown by Helena Yee (10)
Suddenly I’m at home
We can’t go to town
no traffic or pollution.
And inside, we find
a hidden part of ourselves that we
haven’t unlocked yet.
I am from… by Pihu Sharma (10)
I am from New Zealand.
My grandparents are caring,
helpful and kind.
My grandparents are very loving and they can be funny as well sometimes.
My mum is funny, caring, creative, loving and neat.
My dad is also loving, helpful and neat.
I come from an organised home.
My favourite things to do with my sister are to play board games, dance and do crafts,
and with my dog I play catch and pat her when in the sun.
With my friends we take turns to say what to do.
I am missing my teacher, friends and my class
and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone, too.
I feel sad, bored sometimes, but still happy.
Wolf by Harriet Wright (8)
I am from dark forests to snowy mountains,
from snuggling packs to caves and moss,
from cold breezes to dark nights.
I am from mouthfuls of meat to starving pups,
from protective packs to scared victims.
I am from mice turned into mince,
from autumn to winter.
I am from whirling winds to falling trees,
from rodents to bears.
I am from trees and bushes,
from seedlings to growth.
I am from bushy white-tipped tails,
from grey, fluffy fur.
I am from pricked ears to snapping sharp teeth,
from dog-shaped paws to pink-tongued mouth.
Mountain biking by Max Stratford (9)
I am tall trees.
I am from the mud flicking up.
I am from the fast wheels.
I am from the jumps.
I am from the steep hills.
I am from stony roads.
I am from outings with my family.
I am going out for hours on end on the trails.
I am from the fast people passing me.
I am from big skids.
I am from tight corners.
I am from leaves blowing in my face.
I am from big things that jump in front of me.
I am from warm water touching my feet.
COVID-19 by Grace McQuoid (14)
Only one lonely car,
three stray walkers,
and someone on a bike:
The city is quiet.
Dad brings home groceries,
handling them as if poison,
Ready to make us fall ill.
slamming doors to get away
from the arguing
of a family stuck together
seeing no one else.
Games after dinner,
a room full of laughter.
Late morning sleep-ins,
staying up late,
filling the time that drones on
with school work.
The one who is sick
of everyone in the house
to their room
and becomes a lurking monster.
Oh, what has this virus
done to us?
We have grown closer,
yet further apart.
When will this be over?
The silent hunter by Danujii Rathnayake (10)
One by one you hunt us down.
When will you drown?
Your reign causes pain;
it’s like endless rain.
You steal innocent lives,
just for your fun.
Thank you for challenging us…
But now the game’s not so fun.
Go away, COVID-19,
You are uninvited!
The field by Sophie Porteous (9)
I am from sketchy, weak branches bouncing up and down.
Laughter echoes through hollow logs.
Microscopic spiders waiting for finger-licking flies,
sticky as honey from the various predators.
I am rough seats.
I grip your pants.
Flexible children manoeuvre over me,
looking for branches to play with.
What will they feel like?
I am a pansy.
I am blooming.
Rain dribbles down earth’s face.
Clouds moving around clocks sluggishly.
Sunbeams creaking into small holes.
Grass glowing with soil.
Lush emerald grass being made each second.
Shades of brown and green.
Rainbows landing on grass.
Leprechauns leave their gold.
Locked down in China by Nathan Jiang (10)
Shanghai family visit was great.
But then bad news. Caught in Covid-19 lockdown.
Extremely frightening inside our tiny Chinese apartment in Fuzhou.
Devastated as my sister had to go to hospital – a bad time to get sick.
Three weeks isolation in Fuzhou.
Exhausted as we head back to New Zealand on a nice, comfy, triple-seat bed.
Back to quarantine in New Zealand.
When will it end?
A young teenager by Bethel Kerei (14)
I am a young teenage voice.
I wonder if I’m free.
I hear a few voices saying:
“Only yesterday’s guaranteed.”
Where tall trees surround me
I am not seen.
My heart full of love
as big as the Earth’s green.
Of all the children in my school
I may not be the tallest.
Of all the voices in the world
Mine may be the smallest.
But I can almost touch the stars
If I stand on my toes.
And soon my words may change the world,
so you better listen close.
I am a young teenage voice
now ready to speak,
because deep down I know
I have yet to peak.
I am free to speak my mind.
Therefore, I rejoice
that I am a young teenager
with a voice.
Te Reo Pohewa is a collection of poetry by young Rotorua writers published by Mad Poets Rotorua in November, 2020. The book includes around 140 poems from students ranging from 6 to 17 years old from a diverse range of 14 schools (including high schools, kura and primary and intermediate schools). The poems are arranged in three thematic groups: “I am from…”; “Lockdown poems”; and “General themes”. Copies can be obtained by emailing Terry Locke (email@example.com) for $15 plus delivery.