World Poetry Day 2017

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Today is World Poetry Day, a UNESCO initiative that aims to promote the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind.

To celebrate and support this kaupapa, we wanted to share four great poems from writers associated with the Whitireia Creative Writing Programme.


Erin Donohue

Before the moustached policeman
marched towards us.

Before the helicopter landed and all the blades of grass
bowed before it.

Before the faraway sound of the
propellers made us all sit up

Before we dialled the emergency services but
couldn’t get through.

Before the water ran off us but the
desperation stuck.

Before the tears and
the one hundred river crossings and
the piggybacks along
flooded paths.

Before we even left the cabin that morning.
There was a rain so heavy it nearly washed away

Erin graduated from the Whitireia Creative Writing Programme just last week, and has already landed a deal with Escalator Press to publish her first book, Because Everything is Right but Everything is Wrong.

Ode to da life
Tusiata Avia

You wan da Ode?
Ok, I give you
Here my Ode to da life
Ia, da life is happy an perfek
Everybodys smile, everybodys laugh
Lot of food like Pisupo, Madonal
an Sapasui
Even da dog dey fat
You hear me, suga? Even da dog!

An all da Palagi dey very happy to us
Dey say Hey come over here to Niu Sila
Come an live wif us an eat da ice cream
An watch TV2 evry day
Days of Our Lives evry evry day
Hope an Beau an Roman an
Tony De Mera

Dat how I know my Ode to da life
An also Jesus – I not forget Jesus
He’s say to us Now you can
Do anyfing you like
Have da boyfrien, drink da beer
Anyfing, even in front of your fadda
An never ever get da hiding
Jus happy an laughing evry time.

Tusiata studied Creative Writing at Whitireia in 2001 before going on to do her Master’s at the Institute of Modern Letters. She has since held a number of residencies including the Fulbright Pacific Writer’s Fellowship at the University of Hawaii, and the Ursula Bethel Writer in Residence at the University of Canterbury. Tusiata was the 2013 recipient of the Janet Frame Literary Trust Award, and her latest collection, Fale Aitu, has been longlisted for the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.​

The carpet sweeper, 1952
Adrienne Jansen

The travelling salesman persuaded her.
She paid by skimping on housekeeping.
She props the sweeper beside the door
and proudly shows her neighbours
how the brushes revolve and pick up fluff.
She rests her chin on the handle
and dreams of owning a carpet.

Adrienne is a tutor on the Whitireia Creative Writing Programme, and is a published author of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. She has lived and worked among immigrants in New Zealand for many years, and her writing draws strongly on that experience.

From my front deck on Wellington Road
Rob Hack

On the front deck the sun warms me.
Billie Holiday, soft from the kitchen.
Passing boys sing macho macho man
laugh like Mexicans. My teacup steams
ghosts of camellia leaves as blackbirds
flit in seesaw harmony from power line
to power line. The apricot tree foliage lively
in the spring breeze.
A neighbour’s blunt push mower receives
advice as some Joe strummer passes,
hopefully on his way to a tutor. Molly
short haired short fused at the bottom of
her drive yaps. Faded plastic chairs
splotched with bird shit, stacked in chaotic
pose in a sunless corner.
Campervans convoy past. Their tyre grooves hum.

Rob is a Kāpiti Coast-based poet and another graduate of the Whitireia Creative Writing Programme. His first collection of poems, Everything Is Here, was published by Escalator Press last year. He also hosts a poetry show on Paekakariki FM radio called Not at the Table: poetry and stuff.