Monday, 12 October 2020

Sounds like...

Onomatopoeia is when a word imitates or sounds like how it is spelt, such as pop, cackle, gurgle, sizzle and the like. Our first task today was to brainstorm all the words we could think of and write them on small notes of paper. We then randomly drew three and wrote a poem or short story using them. Finally for an added challenge we attempted another story or poem using as many as we could. It's fun to use these words and it forces us to try new ways of writing.



At the fair I was eating toffee apples 
savouring their crunch.
I was carrying a toy windmill 
which whirred as it spun from nowhere to nowhere.
Trapped inside the swish of air 
which propelled it there and everywhere 
but never here.

I grabbed a bottle of pop, and it's hiss hypnotised me
drawing me further and further into its saccharine depths.
I gurgled, choked by my own greed
and heard the crackle of my soul which I had sold
for a glimpse of sweetness.

Tick, tock goes the clock
Fire burning, guitar rock
I'm stuck in the depths
And not at the top

I had a zip code but I undid it and out fell
a mass of lies and deceit.
And that's where the fair turned into fear
and the clock of my life turned inexorably forward,
trapped like a match stick in its box.

- M.F.

BARBECUE (onomatopoeia)

Tick tick                tick tick                 tick tick, tick tick

pop        hiss        chink     gurgle                  

crunch  pop        hiss        gurgle                   chink

sizzle     crackle                                 crunch  sizzle     crackle

buzz       crunch                                 buzz       buzz       chink

pop   hiss    buzz    crunch    crackle   sizzle    buzz    buzz

- Kate Jenkins

TASK - use the words 'crunch, gurgle and tick'

He stamped his foot, over and over.  With a heavy crunch his boot broke through the hard layer of ice and slipped on the wet clay beneath.  Time was slipping away, tick tick, tick tick, and his anxiety levels were peaking.  Somewhere under here the burst pipe was draining all the water from the tank – water he needed for the winter cleanup of the cowshed. He only had five cows but they made an awful mess when being milked.  He had to wash down and sweep the shed floor dry before all the poo froze to it.  Tick tick, tick tick.  After breaking two square metres of ice he found a flow of water, and, stamping harder, he followed the course of the pipe back up the yard to a split, where the water gurgled quietly out and spread onto the ground. He glared at the split then took his spade and carefully dug around, above and beneath the burst pipe.  He’d expected more water to be spurting out, not just this slow flow.  Wrapping his hands around the pipe above and below the break he found it solid with ice inside, bulging with frozen power.   He wiped the pipe clean and wrapped the break with tape then, in the kitchen he took warm water from the kettle and returned to the yard to pour it carefully around the freezing ice, starting at the bottom to let the water flow again.  

Three meters down the yard, where he had first stamped his foot, a small stream of water gurgled upwards.

- Kate Jenkins

Monday, 27 July 2020

Busy as Bees

We were literally a hive of activity this week as we reflected on a sculpture by one of Artsenta's artists. This bee themed book sculpture by Trina was used as a prompt for our writing group. Firstly we were tasked with just describing what we could see in as much detail as we could manage. Then we wrote a second poem that included a more personal response to the object and what it might tell us or provoke in us. Thanks for the inspiration Trina!


The hexagonal hive sprays forth
a dozen
full flight, flapping (single wings).
Lozenge shapes loft (yellow, brown, orange, green)
over pale petals,
flowers written to the words of Only Love.

Page two hundred parts from two-oh-one (a separate leaf)
where woven ink-black ribbon divides
hive from flower.
Silvered soloist drones its double wings to its own tune.
Lost words in hexagons
replaced by floral foreign text.


A hive is solidly geometric
Strangers not welcome.
Research is defined, with open boundaries
a droning, buzzing reality
a tight framework of knowledge,
in the open paddock of the unknown.
Workers bringing in facts as food, for storage;
Building, building a wall of interlocking pieces,
food of the next generation.

-Kate Jenkins


Pages of paper
An open book
Flowers a plenty
So take a look.

The hive sits waiting
Bees flying near
Some coated in pollen
Like clothing they wear.

Some lie nearby
Alive or dead?
We cannot tell
Till they raise their heads.


`Busy, busy, busy'

Busy as a bee
So the saying goes
Busy in the sun
Or rain, hail, or snow.

From flower to flower
They flit each day
Picking up pollen
As they go on their merry way.

We love them for their honey
But fear them for their sting
Something they only use
When frightened by something.

We steal the honey
They make for their queen
No wonder they get annoyed
When we take all we can glean.

As we kill them with poison
We forget that they provide
An easy way to fertilise
As they spread pollen far and wide.

Without the bees
And other insects flying through
We would not have the crops
That provide food for me and you.

- Christine Philp

Invisible Poetry

This week's activity was inspired by a poetry competition run by the Dunedin Public Library. One of the competition categories is 'invisibility'. Three variations on the theme were presented for us to write a poem about: 1. A time when you felt invisible, 2. Having the power of invisibility, and 3. Something you can't see such as air, sound, feelings or thoughts. Most of us managed to complete two of the three. The poems made very thoughtful listening. 


Feeling invisible
Can be painful..

Seen t h r o u g h
And this hurt unseen

Is there a way?
A middle way
To be hurt and held
And safe

Is there a way
To be hurt 
And hold
One's self ?

- Pauline


There are things 
In this world
Only sensed
The perfume
Of the

- Pauline


Hope hangs in the air, unlifted
An invisible flag on an unseeable flagpole
High winds and storms batter at life
Shaking the air into waves and funnels, 
Threshing up doubt, fear and resistance
And within this churning foaming maelstrom
Hope lifts and flies, rampant, moving, fighting

-Kate Jenkins


If I could hear what others say
in the quiet places of their lives
I would cloak my self in invisibility
and not return.
My ears would turn to stone and
no more tell my mind their tale of joy or woe
My mind would burn from too much pain
not seen before, not noticed, & joy not learned
Their eyes I would not face, for fear of seeing
the accusations which would burn there.
Curtail contact, curtail speech, 
feel now embarrassment, shame, alone.

-Kate Jenkins


What is your customer number?
He asked me on the phone
I don't have a number
I reply as I groan.

Why can't you find my name
Hidden in your system?
Don't make me play this game
I beseech and plead with him.

We need to fit you in a box
Within our system framework
He says in a tone that mocks.
What an f''ing jerk!

How else can we do this?
There must be a way
I really do miss
When I was a name!

- Christine Philp


I see me
You see me
The same person
Yet different seeings.

You see hope
And possibilities
I don't.

You see confidence
And abilities
I minimise them.

You see smiles
And laughter
I can, sometimes.

Sometimes I wish
You could see the me I see
But then you wouldn't like me either.

Other times, I wish I could see me
As you see me
And not `yeah but' all the positives you see.

- Christine Philp

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Flashy Fiction & Shortish Shorts

National Flash Fiction Day is 22 June and there have been competitions running. Whether you enter or not it is a good fun format to use. We like to keep it to under 300 words and get right to the point or nub of the story. We used two themes as starting points. Firstly a situation where we saved someone or something from harm or difficulty. Alternatively we could use a sticky situation where things were going wrong but then worked out unexpectedly well. But before our writer group contributions, we have two entries to the National Flash Fiction Comp from one of our Artsenta artists.


Grandpa Ron's grey and ginger moustache is parted and combed to hand over his lower lip.

When he drinks soup he can sieve out the corn.

I think his month is a baleen whale.

She was always away on tour in the Pacific. When he was a boy he didn't see her.

Mum tells me it's rude to stare. "Go outside and play."

The fat cat Lucy and I sit beside Grandpa's garden pond and watch the goldfish swimming lazily under the lily pads.

I wish I could go out in the gigantic wild ocean.

Great Grandma is out there somewhere. I'll swim and swim until I find her.

- Sally Robilliard


Tuesday 4.53pm.

In the rear vision mirror of my forklift, the manager is beckoning me over to the loading bay. A red plastic attache case held high like a flag.

"You can't fire me on a Tuesday. It's the day I visit my Mum," I yell.

Mr L'Orange's lips barely part as he reads the open file. Each word enunciated.

"Mr Ronimo, The Company has terminated our contractual relationship with you. You have failed at every parameter to meet the Vision Statement."

"Vision isn't everything. Mum can't see and we still play dominoes. The best part's when they fall down."

Mr L'Orange continues, snot dripping from his left nostril.

"You have not participated in Corporate Sharing and Caring online team activities."

"Sir, I'm too busy knitting peggy squares for a blanket for Mum. I'm up to green squares now."

The snot is wiped on the right arm of his non-absorbent high-vis jacket.

"The Company requires diversification to meet changing markets."

"Mum and I grow broad beans. Broad beans in white sauce are always a hit."

"The Company requires movers and shakers at the frontier."

Out in the delivery yeard pie wrappers are caught in a gust. 

"Mum's a rock'n'roller twisting at the Grey Lynn dance hall."

"Finally, your movement of product recordings are suboptimal."

"Mr L'Orange, I'm an expert on movements. Mum phones me if her bowels haven't opened."

The clock above the locker room clicks over.

"Mr L'Orange I feel sorry for you. I need to catch the 5.19 bus to get to Mum's rest home. I feel sorry for you because you're not the apple of your Mum's eye."

- Sally Robilliard


The protesters were strident; placards, feet, voice, all pressing forward, urgent, angry and solid.  This day, this time, was smouldering.

As his balloon slipped his grasp the toddler Lee lurched forward chasing the dangling string, intent, oblivious, desperate.  Midway across George Street his clutching finger wrapped around and held light his lone possession.

Sophia’s grandmother had always told her “Keep an eye on the little ones”.  As she paused from her shopping to watch the protest move down from the Octagon towards her, Sophia wondered where she should be.  Was she safe?  Should she go?  Would she join them?

A dancing balloon snatched her eye as the marchers’ forward banner lurched across her path, the writhing head of a coiling snake observing a small mouse.

- Kate Jenkins


The cat looked longingly at the tree.

“Can I climb it?”

“No no please don’t try.” The little boy cried.

He noticed the cat halfway up the tree and then at the top looking down at him.

“Ha ha” said the cat to the little boy.

“I’m here. I can see into the next yard, at that little yapping dog. I could spend the day up here, but it’s getting near my dinner time.”

“Are you going to be able to climb down yourself?” asked the little boy.

“Aah I hadn’t thought of getting down from this tree and I suddenly remember I’m not too fond of heights. Heeelp! Can you call the boys in the little red truck, who have a long ladder?”

The little boy said “No, I will climb up to rescue you. I am tough and can climb well.”

The two of them are both stuck up the tree now.

“I better phone the fire brigade. Lucky I had my new phone with me. Usually I don’t take it climbing.”

“I can see the red truck, but it’s only going slow with no lights and sirens going” said the cat peering through the branches. “That’s hardly cricket.”

The ladder comes up and they climb down, with the cat tucked in the little boy’s sweater.

“Right what’s for tea” says the cat “and then I think I’ll go chasing that yapping dog next door.”

- Gail Palmer

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Winners & Losers

Today's writing is about winning and losing. We've all had experience at both. No doubt we are better at some things than others. It can feel bad to lose. But is losing all bad? Is winning all good? And is how we think about it the most important thing?


I have learnt
That to win
Is to enjoy
The flow of energy
Movement of limbs
And body
The slow, patient
From a tutor`s heart

The companionship
Of others
Learning too
On this journey
We call

- Pauline


The dreaded cross-country time of year again. It was always late summer - the days were starting to draw in. It was cooler in the mornings and daylight shrinking at both ends. There were the "practice runs" followed by the "Big Day". Clad in maroon rompers and standard uniform white top. Across the road, down the river-bank into the Heathcote, strewn with weed. Up the opposite bank and then up the hill - an excruciatingly long distance at the time! And finally, back into the old school yard, last, or slightly less humiliating, second-to-last. And then the relief. Relief that it was over for another year. Maybe next year it would'nt be so bad.

- Pauline


Thwack, whoosh, thwack, thud, the shuttlecock flies over the net as we try to out manoeuvre each other.  5 - 1, I'm winning, not a common occurrence.  Thwack, thud, ugh.  Another point to me.  And another.  And another.  You'd think I'd be enjoying this, but I'm not.  I'd rather lose a close game than thrash this person.  Maybe I'll ease off and hit more shots towards her.  She gets a point, then misses more.  10 - 2, 10 - 3, maybe she's on a roll.  11 - 3, 12 - 3, damn.  I end up winning 15 - 4.  I get the point, it looks good on the score sheet, but I don't feel good about it.  I wonder if that's how people feel when they thrash me?

- Christine


I hate P.E.  Why can't we do something fun, like play games or sports?  It's always running or jumping or bloody gymnastics.  Today it's cross-country.  Cross-bloody-country.  I know I'll be last, I always am.  If I was braver, I'd refuse to do it.  What's the point?  The others will run off, and I'll walk in, 15 minutes later, panting, red, and buggered.
P.S.  I hurt my knee climbing over the barbed wire fence, later discovered I'd torn a ligament, so now I refuse to ever do cross-country.  Yay!!

- Christine

Tuesday Haiku

A small writing group is still a good writing group, as today's post shows. Haiku are short but deceptively difficult to do well. How do you capture the essence of something in just a few words? And did you know that they are designed to be read in one breath? Often the last line contains an element of surprise or juxtaposition. See this link for more on haiku writing and give it a go!

Rain starts to fall
wet hills are now free from drought
sheep will eat long grass

Driver turns the wheel
bus proceeds along the road
Passenger frowns

Pause for photo shoot
Faces and a selfie stick
Visit Dunedin!

black cat with white feet
calling endlessly outside
wants to eat my cheese

black fur touching skin
small cat vibrating gently
warm and friendly pet

-Kate Jenkins

All along the beach
the waves lapped against the shore
coming and going

Wet nose, loving eyes
whole body waggling with joy
so pleased to see me

Dropping from above
nourishing the ground below
seedlings poking through

Writings on paper
drifting, falling, in the breeze
spreading their message

- Christine Philp

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Limericks, bubbles and more

Creative writing sessions are now happening virtually, partly via Facebook and partly through email. The first session we decided to just have a bit of fun with limericks with the added challenge of using the word 'bubble' (we're all in one apparently!).

I sit here in my little bubble
Trying not to get into trouble
My list of chores, all not done
They are not my idea of fun
Sadly, in time, they will double

In my bubble I sit here alone
But I really shouldn't moan
I have a roof and lots of walls
And I can still make some calls
On my trusty telephone

- Christine Philp

There once was a women who wanted a cuddle
Everyday she got the days muddled
Now and then she looked at the diary
She figured out what the days were finally
Because she's having to stay in a bubble

- Julia Godfrey

We have a PM who we note
Speaks beautiful jewels from her throat
Her hair it is lovely
It’s well done up daily
Her stylist ‘essential’ or ‘nope’?

Our health Minister we shall call Davey
Keeps the wheels a-turning, well maybe
He got in some trouble
Rode out of his bubble
Now voters are thinking ‘So, should we?’

- Kate Jenkins

These limericks are from an earlier session at Artsenta we hadn't posted yet!

A Dalmore doctor named Mike
bought himself an e-lec-tric bike
he quickly fell off it
so there was no profit
as his GP's charges were hiked

a Golden Guitarist from Gore
found her fingers had gotten quite sore
she wrapped on a dressing
which caught in the 4th string
'til her fingers were bloodied and raw

A haughtily faced Royal aunt
sought to ride only well at the Hunt
she followed a fox
had left her whip in the Box
and came last, with a frown and a grunt

-Kate Jenkins

There was a young man from Fern Hill
Who got an unexpectedly large bill
He sobbed and he cried
Till neighbours thought someone had died
And rushed to comfort that man from Fern Hill.

There was a small town called Gore
Where more was less, and less was more
Where teeth could be few
And extra fingers they grew
Till it became part of folklore.

There once was a Queen called Liz
Who had her nose in everyone's biz
Her kids couldn't marry
Any Tom, Dick or Harry
Until they'd passed the royalty quiz.

- Christine

A one-eyed prospector from Warri
Fell drastically hard in the quarry
Unbeknown to him strangely
He was rescued by "Mangely" (guess who? ;-)
So his fate LEAD him out of his folly.

A formidable woman from Gore
Had a history of being a whore
She ended up drunk and stunk like a skunk
But then gained a diploma in law.

A serious student from Gore
Owned a dog with an over-sized paw
He used it to bat ball
With the children 'o St Paul
And they all won an award in the Fall.

Poor 'ol Harry didn't know who to marry
He experienced a terrible quandry
Was it Mum and the Crown
Or the life of high renown
Through his illustrious wife and her tally?


Sounds like...

Onomatopoeia is when a word imitates or sounds like how it is spelt, such as pop, cackle, gurgle, sizzle and the like. Our first task today ...