Poetry Shelf celebrates Skinny Dip: Some favourite poems by secondary school students

Skinny Dip: Poetry, eds Susan Paris & Kate De Goldi, illustrations by Amy van Luijk, Massey University Press (Annual Ink), 2021

Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris, editors of the popular and best-selling Annuals, have edited a lively, much-needed, and altogether stunning anthology of poems for middle and older readers. I review Skinny Dip:Poetry here, plus you can hear Amber Esau and Sam Duckor-Jones read a poem. (Skinny Dip page at Massey University Press)

I was so inspired I invited secondary school students to write a poem that plays with various poetic forms (as well as making it my November challenge on Poetry Box). Thanks for sending in all the terrific mahi! I have picked a few favourites from a bunch Year 9 students at St Andrews College in Ōtautahi Christchurch sent me. I love the wittiness in many of these poems, the acrostic poem where one line spills onto the next, a poem that reminds me of Bill Manhire’s magnificent ‘The 1950s’, an eerie scene, the way sports makes it in, how a handful of words can unfold like origami, how rhyme can be close and not exact, and how ideas are linked to dough. All of this and more! I am sending copies of Skinny Dip to Alisdair McCall and Olivia Glass.

The poems

Rowing (cinquain)

Deep breath
STAC on my chest
In and out, final beep
Digging stroke, trained, built, for right now
Deep breath

Thomas White

Look Out the Window (a haiku sequence)

Look out the window
While I’m sitting in a chair
Ideas many so

Choosing a topic
A topic to think about
What idea to pick

Shaped like it is dough
The thing which has got me here
Look out the window

Oliver Murchison

Prestigious schools love exams (acrostic)

Prestigious schools love exams
A pain in my back, an
Innocent pain that many times I’d love to hit with a bat or run over with a train, though  
Never shall I forget the pain in my back
For cry’s sake, this exam should be hit with rake
“Use your time and take a break” but all they really say is your education is at stake
Let us take a break we students say or else I might be forced to get out the rake

Jackson Evans

Pig Hunting (free verse)

Peering over the ridgeline
Intense work, getting from pig to pig
Gapping it to get to the top of the fenceline

Heavy boars on the run from dogs
Undertaking the hard task of carrying out the dead pig
Not wanting to miss the shot with everyone watching
Tactically trying to find pigs
Inhaling the fresh air from the highest point
Nervously waiting for the sound of a good bail up
Gutting out the pigs after a big day

Olley Collet

Cricket (acrostic)

Cracking on in the middle
Ready to spend 4 hours of pain
Into the action
Cooking in the boiling hot sun
Kicking of self as we drop a catch
Exhaling all voices supporting our teammates
Time to eat my sushi tray

Lachlan Grant

(cinquain)

Sweaty
Hope I’m ready
I start with some files
Then large boxes, trolleys and more
Sweaty

Max Barclay

November  (free verse)

November, not December or September. 
Its the 11th month don’t you remember. 
It’s like spring and summer put in a blender.
In terms of weather it’s the centre.

Jonty Lang

That Kid (haiku sequence)

Watch out for that kid
They got the moves got the grooves
Got the feet like hooves

Watch him bounce around
He likes to move it move it
Everywhere he goes

Watch his body go
He is the clear champion
He loves rock and roll

Kaelan Graham

(rhyme form)

My basketball,
my artistic mat,
My overalls, 
my tiny cat,
My cosy couch, 
my sharp stick,
My ankle ouch! 
My sticky ick,

My big oar, 
my shiny bike,
My best score, 
my huge hike,
My book a batch, 
my crazy catch, 
My red bump, 
my huge jump.

My cool wii,
My mid-night pee,
My bean bag,
The huge price tag,
My cuddly toys,
My aussie ois.

Alisdair McCall

The Old House

Walking round all alone
Looking through this empty home
Sitting in a creaking chair 
Broken glass everywhere

Wind blowing with a gust
Knocking everything over including us
Pushed over towards the ground 
Shivering with no one else around

Don’t know what else to do 
Lying here in this cold dark room 
Eyes open with a gust of fright
Someone looking at me 

Been a few years since this day 
Still scared to walk that way 
Person sitting at the house
Someone familiar
But can’t quite remember 

Olivia Glass

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