Skinny Dip: Poems, 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. Kate and Susan commissioned ‘original, and sometimes rowdy poetry’ from a selection of well-known Aotearoa poets. The poems are pitched at Y7 to Y10 readers, but will catch the attention of a range of readers. The collection is shaped like a school year, with four terms, and with the poets both recalling and imagining school days. The subjects shift and spark. The moods and tones never stay still. Some of the poems are free verse (no rules) and some are written according to the rules of specific poetic forms. There is a useful glossary detailing some of the forms at the back of the book (rondel, tanka, haiku, ode, cinquain, rondel, sestina, villanelle, acrostic, pantoum). There are also found, prose, strike-out and dialogue poems. A genius idea for a book that shows how you can follow poetry rules, break poetry rules, play with poetry rules.
The editors invited poems from a glorious group of Aotearoa poets: Sam Duckor-Jones, essa may ranapiri, Bill Manhire, Anahera Gildea, Amy McDaid, Kōtuku Nuttall, Ben Brown, Ashleigh Young, Rata Gordon, Dinah Hawken, Oscar Upperton, James Brown, Victor Rodger, Tim Upperton, Lynley Edmeades, Freya Daly Sadgrove, Nina Mingya Powles, Renee Liang and Nick Ascroft.
Through doing my poetry blogs, schools visits and author tours over decades, I have witnessed poetry simmering and bubbling, somersaulting and sizzling, the length and breadth of Aotearoa. Poetry in my experience can excite the reluctant writer, advance the sophisticated wordsmith, and captivate all those writers in between, both in primary and secondary schools. Poetic forms are fun, and can stretch the imagination, electrify moods and music. Send your writing pen in refreshing and surprising directions.
Poem anthologies for younger and middle readers are as rare as hen’s teeth in Aotearoa, so it is a special day when a new one hits our library and bookshop shelves. Kate and Susan have curated a selection of poems that will fit ranging moods, and perhaps inspire you to write a poem of your own, however old you are!
I have celebrated Skinny Dip on Poetry Box with four readings (Ben Brown, James Brown, Lynley Edmeades and Ashleigh Young). My November challenge on Poetry Box is inspired by Skinny Dip (for Y1 – Y8), so do invite keen young poetry fans to give it a go. For Poetry Shelf, I am featuring two glorious readings by Amber Asau and Sam Duckor-Jones, and including a challenge for secondary students.
I decided Skinny Dip is so good it deserves a feast of celebrations! Let me raise my glass to a fabulous project.
A popUP poetry challenge for secondary school students in Year 9 and 10:
Choose one of the poetry forms mentioned above and write a poem. You can stick to the rules or you can play with the rules. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org by November 14th. Include your name, age, year and name of school. Deadline: November 11th. I will post some on Poetry Shelf on November 16th. Write Skinny Dip in subject line so I don’t miss your email. I will have a copy of the book to give away.
Amber Esau reads ‘Street Fighter’
Sam Duckor-Jones reads ‘Please excuse my strange behaviour’
Amber Esau is a Sā-māo-rish writer (Ngāpuhi / Manase) born and raised in Tāmaki Makaurau. She is a poet, storyteller, and amateur astrologer. Her work has been published both in print and online.
Sam Duckor-Jones lives in Wellington. He has published two collections of poems: People from the Pit Stand Up and Party Legend (VUP).