Poetry and the people

A few months ago, I heard a poem read over the radio. The poem was Tony Walsh’s (aka Longfella)This is the place. Walsh performed his poem at a vigil remembering the victims of the bombing at Manchester Stadium. An accomplished writer and performance poet, he delivered his poem with the passion and defiance of a true poet warrior.

NZ has its own poet warrior

New Zealand too has its own poet warrior, Auckland-based poet and educator Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh. Marsh was the first person of Pacific descent to graduate with a Ph.D. in English from Auckland University and is best-known for her poem Fast Talking PI.

Marsh was recently appointed the New Zealand Poet Laureate 2017–19. She accepted the award gifted by the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa on 25 August, National Poetry Day.

Dr Selina Tusitala MarshPhoto by Mike Hurst. All rights reserved.

Taking poetry to unexpected places

On accepting the award, Marsh explained:

... I just want to take poetry into unexpected places because I really believe that poetry is for the people.
— Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh, First Pasifika poet awarded NZ Poet Laureate award

In fact, bringing poetry to the people is a vital part of a poetry laureateship. One of the aims is to promote the reading, writing and performing of poetry around New Zealand. Marsh recently visited St Joseph’s School in Ōtāhuhu where she has run poetry workshops for students as part of the Ōtāhuhu Writers in Schools Community Project.

To find out more about her work around New Zealand, read her post on the New Zealand Poet Laureate blog.

Using poetry to inspire across the curriculum

Poetry encourages students to explore language, express their thoughts and discover their own poetic voice. For teachers wanting to introduce poetry to students, humorous poetry is a wonderful way to start. For younger children, rhyming picture books and nursery rhymes are also great places to begin.

Poetry doesn’t need to be confined to the English curriculum. How about including poetry each time you embark on an inquiry unit? Poetry covers a broad range of topics including endangered animals, space, friendship, festivals, sustainability and more. Adding poetry into the mix is a great way to bring in a cross-curricular approach to the inquiry.

Request poetry books from our lending service

Services to Schools has an extensive poetry collection for both primary and secondary students. It includes:

  • how to write poems
  • poetic forms e.g. haiku, concrete etc, and
  • books by many well-known poets from around the world, and especially New Zealand.

And of course, we have copies of Fast Talking PI, Dark Sparring, and the latest publication Tightrope by Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh.

Poetry can form part of inquiry and reading engagement loans if requested.

Find out more

Poetry — Find out about poetry and how to use it to engage children with reading

School loans — Read about Services to Schools' lending service.

Any excuse for some poetry — A great blog about poetry by Jeannie Skinner from Services to Schools.

First Pasifika poet awarded NZ Poet Laureate award — Audio and a transcript from Radio New Zealand.

Selina Marsh fast Talking PI (YouTube video 3:44)

By Lara Petry

Lara is a Librarian with Services to Schools.

Post a Comment

(will not be published) * indicates required field

Be the first to comment.