Monday, 4 November 2019

Pet Loves

Almost everyone has had a pet, had one in the family, or encountered one in their wider whanau circle. They often generate strong emotions, to the point where tears almost smudge the writing (for one of our writers at least!). But joy is ever present when it comes to pets which was the topic of our writing today.


From the corner of my eye I see ...
movement, on the floor
grey shadow
tapering 10 inch length
wool fibre curling, waving
lint and dusty debris walking
swiveling, swirling

1 right foot swivels forward
toes extended, grip the carpet
body flexing
2 left foot swivels forward
toes extended, grip the carpet
and somewhere under fibre and dust
3 left foot follows 1 right and
4 right foot follows jerkily with 2 left
wide mouth opens with two fat lips
tiny teeth
dinosaur-like tail follows S-bending
Migrating from your pool
should not be over carpet!
I put you back in the tank Axolotl.

- Kate Jenkins


my eleventh birthday
I tell my parents that if they really loved me
they would get me a  dog

walking towards a paper carton
my heart thumping in my chest

suddenly the black object in the box yelps
I turn and run
the next few months are terror

you chase me and my sister along the carpet
while we stand screaming
on the couch

then you got bigger
and you jumped up beside me
and so we became friends

I remember your quirks
20 x bigger than our guinea pigs
and you still reacted with terror

I still remember the day the cat
swiped your nose
and won the fight

dragging me through the streets
I spent hours with you whilst you
pulled me uphill and down dale

the night you protected me in north east valley
saving me from a person
who might not have had the best intentions

of all my pets
rats, mice, guinea pigs, cats and dogs

you were my protector and friend
always love you
missing you heaps

- M.F.


He’s a ginger furry cat
I met him when I visited my Aunty
He is fun to be around
He is named Mr Riggins
He loves to follow everyone around
He never likes being left alone
He likes to take naps on a fluffy pillow
He meows a lot meaning he loves his food
When you’re around Mr. Riggins
It's like you’ve gone to another world of happiness and fun
Even if you leave for a few minutes then come back
Mr Riggins comes crawling back to you
Meowing madly
Mr Riggins is a very cute cat
Every time I am with him
He makes me wish that I had
A cute kitty cat just like
Mr Riggins

- Julia Godfrey

Monday, 23 September 2019

Creative well-being

At today's session we focussed on well-being, firstly using the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week (23-29 Sept) as a prompt - Explore your way to wellbeing. After our first effort we looked at a collaborative exhibition in Wellington called 'Get a head, Get a hat' which is a different take on an old 1940s advertising slogan ' Get a hat, Get ahead'. Apparently if you want to make progress in life you need to get a hat and hats were everywhere in those days! Instead the creative spaces undertaking this project want us to think about getting into a good head space as a way of making progress in life, hence 'Get a head, Get a hat'.


A seesaw movement of mood
exaggerated at both ends
forcing me to hold on so hard
that it is the only reason
I don't fall off

If I could find a way to navigate
the playground of wellness
I must first experience everything
the playground has to offer

Ups, downs and psychosis
must first be experienced before
taking the model railway to wellness
The seats are small and I'm
afraid I might fall off

Taking the first step away
from the playground
I make it to the meadow
of well-being

It is an affirmative step
that I must consciously make.
Do I hide in the shadows
of this playground?
Or do I decisively walk away?

- M.F.


The words flow from the pen
slowly viscous like honey from a spoon
Wanting to taste and feel and hear and see
A feast for the senses

If only I could become a part of it
Just dive right in
Immersing myself in the poem
and having it cling to me

A barrier against illiteracy
A protective education
If I can express myself in
as few words as possible
I will be happy

- M.F.


What is more important?
What goes on it?
or what is in it?
A head is not just a shape
an object
for hats and glasses to perch upon.
A head is full of thoughts
and ideas
useful and destructive
helpful and not so.
Full of memories
which do we value and treasure?
the successes?
or the failures?
Why do some
remind themselves of their failures?
while others can hold onto their successes?
A head needs to be maintained
and cultivated
so it can be productive
and grow the best crop possible.

- Christine Philp


If well being was a hat
it would be well fitting

A good fit doesn’t slip
holds tight in the wind
adjusts to a preferred angle
It keeps off the rain
and the burning sun
shading the eyes so
Life’s detail is clearly seen

This Well Being Hat is So Cool!
It struts down the street
saying “Look at me;  I am OK”
It lifts in cordial greetings to friends,
and at days’ end it flies buoyantly
through the air, to land on the bed

- Kate Jenkins


A kitten runs curiously from box to bag
a child escapes outdoors
to a garden playground of thought and task
the teenager runs, and shouts to the hills
and an OE generation boards a plane

I walk slower now, content to see
the many things I raced past in youth
but longing still for the resounding silence of the mountains
augmented by the trill of a lone bird
as clear splashing water explores the rocks
in its downhill rush between tussocks and rare alpine herbs
to join a beech hidden river
a boulder gorge, a tight high waterfall
then the fast meandering of reed coated flats

Content with memory I find
my eyes more active
seeing in detail one path on the road from home
my neighbours’ garden
and a baby tūī going joyous on flax

- Kate Jenkins


Sits waiting
Where you've gone
Having faith
That you will find 
Your own way back
To how things 

 - Pauline


Buying a hat
One would think
Would be unimportant
If one had no head

A hat
Bobbing about 
No nose
No eyes
No mouth
No ruffled hair 
Blowing in the 
No smile
No angry glare
No tears
No fearful glance
A covering only
Sitting on shoulders

 - Pauline

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

TV Dinners

Over the last two weeks we have focussed on prose and to help us get into the groove we used a film or television programme we had seen as the basis of our story - or at least the starting point. We were asked to change at least one significant aspect of the original story and to be as creative as we liked but with a word limit of 250. How to convey a film or programme in a short word count was an interesting challenge. We revealed what the programme was once we had shared the story - sometimes it was patently obvious and other times it was a complete mystery. With only about 20 minutes of writing, our group did incredibly well. Here are a few samples.


I used to dream that when the moon would awaken, he would be there. His long blue fur and deep steps that trimmed the echo of the night. I would be curled up in bed but always feel the creep. The dull sweep of his toes and the deep rumble of his breath. I would dream and there he would stand. It would start with a knock, just enough of a noise to rouse me, then an obscure breeze would tear the curtains. Even though I knew that it happened every night, my pulse would beat like the wings of a butterfly and my eyes would flutter awake. I recall the chill in the room and the way a low groan cut through the silence. I recall following the scuttling sound near the bottom of the bed and how the chill of the room stuck to my neck. Then came the roar. The realisation as to what was there were your skin turns artic and you feel the thick wads of fur suddenly near your pillow. Then the room fills with thunder as this giant blue create with rows of sharp yellow teeth bellows out a roar- the sound is so loud, I recall it making my ears ache, my eyes always watered, and my mouth screamed. I used to think he was terrifying. The way he used to scare me and then one day that changed, and now, when he walks through the door near my bed, so late at night, I welcome him and laugh about all the ways things used to be.

- Nellie Toubon


Swimming through the freezing sea, I feel free. My friends are around me and we play as we swim. Soon I'll be home, soon I'll see my family. Nearly there I think to myself. As we get closer to the shore we instinctively swim faster: we know that he'll be there waiting for us. Just as we had expected he was waiting, his looming body blocking our way to the beach. His body at least three times bigger than us, his teeth gnashing at us. At least there is only one beast today, we can outrun him. Like a switch instincts all kick in. We dart past him, weaving around him. His large body slowing him down, he tires quickly. My friends and I arrive at the beach in one piece, I feel the endorphins surge my body giving me that last blast of energy to get home. It's still a long way to go, I see the familiar hill that we must climb. As I look up I see the jaggered  rocks and sudden drops. So one by one we make our way up, catching each other before they slip. It's a long journey home, my feet are aching but the distant sounds of hungry chicks keeps me going. Soon I'll be home, soon I'll see my family.

- Tayla


He arrived in the new town, new country, new everything, wondering what they already knew about him.  Would they know he'd been kicked out of Australia, tail between his legs?  And they'd only taken him on here because they were so desperate?  He'd learn about them quickly enough, being the new doctor.
The first patient was rough, "You can't be the new Doc, you're Australian".  He smiled, grimaced, and tried to explain that yes, they do have medical schools in Australia, and he is indeed a suitably qualified doctor.  After that, dealing with his bunions was a breeze!
His daughter was another issue.  He'd uprooted her from everything she knew and everyone she knew.  And being a teenager, she was quick to tell him what she thought!
After 3 weeks of listening to her moan, he'd had enough and started packing to go back to Australia.  He'd have to start at the bottom again, maybe in a small practice where no-one knew him.  And then the biggest shock of all - she wanted to stay!  She'd started to make friends and wanted to give this new country a go after all!

- Christine

Monday, 12 August 2019

Black & White Worlds

The theme this week was black & white. Firstly writers were asked to respond to the question "What if the world was black and white?" After writing we realised that a black and white world would actually be mostly grey! Next they were asked to think of a black and white film they had seen and bring one of the characters to life. Surprisingly one person in the group had never seen a black and white film, others used television characters. We had the option of writing poetry or prose and not surprisingly some went somewhere in between - 'prose poetry' - the debate about which it is continues and will likely never be resolved!


Earth is white and all around is darkness
Shapes of buildings rise, blocking in the dark
and down the road a traffic beacon
flashes grey to grey and grey
A white tree rises ghostly in the park, where
white grass glistens with the dark dew of morning

From Earth's core a fiery glow sustains
heat for growth and life
While a dark sun follows Earth's dark moon
across a daytime-black sky
filled with twinkling lights

Homes painted in many shades of grey
Line cheerless suburban streets
Inside the hearth is warm, heated from Earth's core
glowing white-hot. Our Earth, giving life

- Kate Jenkins



The wind howls wild like a dog in the night. I feel my fingers shake. Each step, I crawl closer. Could this be a mistake? It’s only something small yet it looms aggressively in my eyes. I am climbing the mountain, most foul and most high. My feet collide with the crumbling dirt, agonising shards of winter rip through my shirt but on I walk up the slope to a place they call hope.

There is a legend I am chasing, one whispered long ago about a differentiation, a bright gap amidst the snow. I remember reading the thought stashed at the back of my mind. Sketched so clearly on paper in black and white. The legend temps me towards the light, so up the mountain I must climb.
My boots are heavy and my breath ragged, scaling up these perilous daggers yet climb I must. I thrust the next foot forward, feeling my heart pound like a drum. All though the journeys not always fair there's always room to run.

I am chasing a rumour called colour, it sits at the very top and even through the snow I feel the streaks of tiny colour blots and up there I ponder, a new way to see. Up the mountain high is where I want to be. Living in colour, that is my objective and dream.


His face was covered in lines as he walked with stony steps. His mood reflected in the way he walked. Along the garden path he would frown to all the flowers then carry on his way to the store. Cane in hand, he was an older man who had lived his life well before. His eye brows could sweep the street, posture impossibly unique and every day he walked, creased faced to the park to pass the gate. One day he was traveling, his stony steps routine and he happened past a shop window, freshly cleaned and gleaming. A woman stood there smiling as she wiped the window down, he’d never felt his face in any shape other than a frown. His brow began to lift like a hat removed gracefully from a head. His eyebrows arched upwards and pushed the lines towards his forehead. His nose rose steadily and his cheeks were crimson red, rows of sparking teeth stretched under his happy smile. An experience he soon wouldn’t forget. The man continued down the path feeling brighter in his step. Seeing things beyond the frame he always found himself drawn in, his world began to change and with every single step he felt a little better with every day he kept.

- Nellie Toubon


What if the world is only black and white?
For some things, that would be alright
Pandas would still be super-cuddly
Zebras could still make a good buddy
Black labs, white sheep
Snow drifts so deep
That empty, blank canvas
That so enjoys to taunt us
But the blue of the sky
And the birds that fly high
Would be grey and boring
Would we even see them soaring?
At least if I dress
And try to impress
Everything would go together
Whether lace, wool or leather!

- Christine Philp

Monday, 15 July 2019

Acrostic Poems

Sounds complicated, however, acrostic poems are quite simple. Just write your chosen word vertically down the page and use each letter as the start of each line. We chose a place, a person and a season to write about but it could be almost anything. It does help if it has some personal connection or meaning, and it's good to mix up how you are writing. Use single words, try sentences or try linking the whole poem into a story.


Streaks of fire colouring the sky
Underneath, grazed by fire
My skin blushes to point of bursting
Manic stinging running along the highways in my body
Electricity, coursing and teeming
Rejuvenating, replenishing, revitalising my spirit

- E. T.


Boddhisatva with
Love and
Unity, expressing
Equality and thought prayers of
Karma to be born as an
Indian or
New-born or
Born again. An
Avatar, child of


Later arrival.
Yearning for a
United, free from


Uniting people and saving


Terrible person
Ruling the
United States with
Money and


Summer soon.
Roses and
Insects cover


In the pot
Lavishes of
Ignited on tongue.

- Phillip Porteous


Going home to Dad
Leaving New Zealand behind
Always thinking of you
Sometimes I want to go there
Given your connections
Only wanting to know
Where do you come from Dad?


Always love you
Now you're gone
Deeming me unacceptable
You're always in my heart.


Verbally gifted
Always look forward to your comments
Now and always
Even though
Sometimes it gets too much
And friend.

- M.F.


Destroyer of Daleks
Regenerated Recently
Watcher over Worlds
Hero - Helper
One & Only


We're here in this cold yet dry false winter
waiting for snow and ice and rain

Idling thru our nights in front of heaters and fires

Nibbling on winter food, relishing soups, casseroles, baked potatoes and mulled wine

Turning thoughts to the garden, to what to plant for Spring food and Christmas fare

Eagerly watching the pointed green tips of daffodils
lancing through the soil to grab the sunlight

Resting on our laurels - I'll prune that later

- Kate Jenkins


Killing of a Korora
Organise some warriors
Return the broth back to me
Open it up to clean it
Rinse it in the waters of Russell
Add oil, salt, water and leaves
Rest it on my breast
Eat after the manner of the Jews
Kiss sweetly the lips
Ah "Ka reka te korora"


Wool, hats and scarves
Inside by a warm fire
Natures natural remedies out
Taking hot baths and showers
Eating hot soup and takakau
Resting in a nice warm bed


Jail birds loved him
Instant success
Millionaire extraordinaire
In a trance
Heroin addicts delight
Energising audiences worldwide
Nasty lyrics and rhthym
Dead of an overdose
Revered even in death
X-rated music

- Haki Davis of Ngati Manu, Copyright 2019


Nervously arriving in this country
Expecting challenges, and successes
Venturing into the wilderness
Into the frigid Central Otago Winters
Surviving, succeeding, and leaving a legacy behind.


Six years old
Playing outside
Running under the sprinkler
Ice cream man visits
"None today" says Mum
Grrrr!! no fair.


Seasonal changes
Potential of things to come
Rumblings of warmth
Increasing daylight
No heaters needed
Grass, bare feet, bliss!

- Christine Philp

Monday, 8 July 2019

Digging Foulden Maar

Today we went to the Dunedin Public Library to see a poetry and art display about Foulden Maar which has been in the news recently. The poetry is from a local writing group and we thought we would check out their work and use it and the concerns over Faulden Maar as the inspiration for our own creative writing. Here is a selection of the poems written in response.


The pillagers say,
"We'll take some of that."
And pockmark the land
From it, oozing like pus
The stench of their greed
Dour and rank and slopping against the senses
Leaching into the soil, like blood spoiled.

The pillagers say,
"It is not enough."
So more they take away
the speckles coalesce, and suddenly!
The mess is everywhere
Beyond imagination
This disgracing
Plain in view for all to see.

The pillagers say,
"We will leave some behind."
A sliver no wider than the edge of my nail
As if that will bleach out their sin
But within
The stain never leaves.

The voiceless, entrenched for thousands of years, say,
"                                          "
And roll over, treated no more than livestock
But more than a collection of bedrock
No words to say
For the pillagers have stolen them all.

- E. T.


Destroying the land of lakes and trees
are like destroying The Nature of Life
Seeing bones and fossils of creatures from the lake
laying on the ground all rotten and dull
Show people that what people did to lakes were no good
Like they had no sense or care of keeping lakes and lands so beautiful
When you see dead flowers and trees scattered on the ground
makes people wonder what did they care for in life
Cause seeing a photo or painting of a destroyed piece of land and sea from a long time ago
Shows us that some people cared more about destroying Nature and Life
Than caring for the world and people coming afterwards

- Julia Godfrey


One cool and wriggling life,  fins alive, flex to drive
brown and blue in habitat tones of earth and water
mouth and gills gulp & flap and gulp & flap - air to live by
food for gulls and eels, each chasing smaller fry
washed down from streams between forest banks
into fine fresh water home.

Aeons below ancestors rest
laid down, still, as each age departs
soothed by fine silt, coatings of a volcanic past
in the life-lacking oxygen-free depths
Weight of millenia pressing down
life like a flower between the pages of a book
is compressed, encased, ordered

This cool and wriggling life
lies with its neighbours, whanui, contemporaries
a jot on the page of its history
extinct, or unfound in the catalogue of modern life

- Kate Jenkins


In Middlemarch, we find a place called Foulden Marr,
size of a cylinder a km long.
Volcanoes erupted and made this place 23 million years ago.

Over time layers of ash fell and water soaked through trapping
fossils, leaves, fish, insects, fungi seeds, flowers, beetles,
berries and maybe other things.

People wanted to mine this area to make pig feed
from the diatom silt.
Why should we leave this place decimated?
23 million years to make and a few days to destroy.

We said No! leave this area alone.
There are still treasures unseen.

- Gail Palmer


Landscape is barren with rocks of schist, tussock grass
dust roads, mountains, blue sky in the background,
peaceful and ancient Foulden Maar.

Fossils trapped there for millions of years preserved.
Miners want to mine it for pig feed.
Sure it would make jobs,
but it would also destroy the Maar and the landscape.

Got taken to court,
the people who opposed the bill won.
Foulden Maar, free for generations to come.

- Gail Palmer


Archive of the past
Leaning into the future
Past lives catalogued
Within frail shapes

Fishing for a reaction
The reactionaries wish to make you food of swine
Cast your treasures into a pig sty
Memories crushed between the teeth of a pig

These beautiful shapes
Like butterflies of the earth
They tell their stories poignantly
Reminding us that we are dust.

- M.F.


Folded like paper
The origami of history
Written on these pages
Are the signatures of evolution’s struggles
Species long gone
Pressed into the earth
A fight for survival
That extends before and behind us
History in rock

A lesson to be learned

- M.F.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Dream Rhymes

We all have dreams, most of which we don't remember. Today was a chance to explore our dreams but with the added complication of a rhyming scheme (now I can't stop!). We tried the standard format of ABAB and AABB and a few variations ensued. As always the theme is a starting point for creativity. We found that it is important to read your poem as you go to ensure it has the right rhythm which seems to have added importance in a rhyming poem.


I am dreaming consciously of you
while the concepts flutter around my head
I know my dreams wont come true
and sooner or later I"ll end up dead
Although I know this poem is wrong
it encapsulates everything I think
I think I heard this in a song
This dream is driving me to drink!

Clutching at a straw
I fall hard
This dream's a bore
Alone in my room
That's like a junk yard
All my hopes and dreams
I must ignore
What you sow
so shall you keep
A tale of woe
circling around and around you.

- M.F.


The fish rode the bike
Along the winding street
It was really a trike
But still pretty neat.

Next came a cat
Skipping with rope
On its shoulder, a bat
Dressed as a Pope.

Then 3 dancing hogs
It's not as strange as it seems
For like the green dogs
They were all in my dreams.

- Christine Philp

Pet Loves

Almost everyone has had a pet, had one in the family, or encountered one in their wider whanau circle. They often generate strong emotions, ...