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NB: What I do not mean by Do your own work first is that you must do your own work in the morning before you do anything else. It is a philosophical first , not a chronological first. For me, it happens that I prefer to do my own work first in the predawn hours whenever possible. It means listening to poetry podcasts while I fold the sheets.

It means reciting poems I have by heart as I walk across campus from my office to the parking structure. It means repeating and repeating a scrap of language that has announced itself to me— I still miss the tree they swerved the road for— and listening for the next scrap whenever it arrives. And writing it down. Generally, this has not led to disaster and the kids and I can live with the fallout when there is any.

I make sure to take care of my body. I rest sometimes when I could be [fill in the blank: cleaning bathrooms, doing laundry, putting together a photo album, cooking a few meals ahead, etc.

The Inner Room

I get regular exercise. I make sure my body is comfortable e. And let me say that this is all much easier said than done. Some weeks I do better than others. Some years I do better than others. It means I always owe about 57 people an e-mail. Capitalism and the power structures would like you to believe you are doing it wrong—especially if you are a woman—so you keep scrambling, working, buying, achieving, striving, etc.

I just know that life and the culture as it currently stands will grind us to the bone if we let them. I try to keep the boundaries of my chaotic little juggle intact. This poem helps. The end. The photos on the wall to the left are of my kiddos, at the First House, standing at the screen door, looking out. This is and is not a metaphor. The green light was my housewarming gift to myself.

I call her Minerva and we have a quick conversation every morning when I go downstairs at 5AM to make my tea: Good morning. Good morning. I am grateful for this view, for this house which I purchased ambivalently but with the intention of giving my kids a home for their last few years at home, for the relative peace it holds for me after some very difficult years. I am grateful for my kids and my books, for this lovely green light that makes magic when illuminated:.

They are the words of St. John of the Cross , and the title of a poem by Thomas Centolella:. Life is hard, even easy lives. Making the kids a hot breakfast, packing their lunches, because I can, and here they are, hungry. Going in early, skipping lunch, staying late. Cherishing my family and friends. Writing about books I loved and learned from. I guess this is not your typical end-of-semester report. And it has done so again, and this last turn around the sun has been a doozy. I mothered two teens and an almost-teen. I finished my MFA. I freelanced and edited and taught.

I sent out two full-length manuscripts. I kept mothering two teens and an almost teen. I won a poetry contest and did not win a first book contest many times over. I ended my long and long-difficult marriage. I found a full-time teaching job and bought a house. I did my part to resist the diminishment of our democracy. I adopted a cat. I kept mothering two teens and an almost-teen. I grew houseplants that did not die. I started my new job which I love—another yay! I picked out paint colors and cupboard pulls and window treatments groans.

I went to IKEA at least twenty times also groans. I am still mothering two teens and an almost teen soon it will be three teens—gulp. Even the easiest lives on the planet—and mine is one—are often hard. But here I am, just past another August. Now my age rounds up to fifty. The life that for so long I thought I was making is not the life I find myself living. But here I am. The artist is unknown. You are looking at an opened envelope and the clay tablet it contained, like a letter.

The outer shell—the envelope—was invented as a security measure. A version of the letter was repeated on the envelope, which had to be broken to verify the message inside that 8 bronze sickles had been delivered safely. I participated last year, and it was a wonderful way to build community online around poetry, as well as to discover new-to-me poets.

My sister-in-law and I took the kids to see fireworks the night of July 3. We had a picnic while the Detroit Symphony Orchestra played. Waited for the long summer light to leave the sky. Then watched the darkness spangle and pop, ooohhed and ahhhed with the rest of the crowd.

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I love fireworks. They amaze me. Scorch'd ankle-deep by the hot sand, hauling my boat down the shallow river,. Where the panther walks to and fro on a limb overhead, where the buck turns furiously at the hunter,. Where the rattlesnake suns his flabby length on a rock, where the otter is feeding on fish,. Where the black bear is searching for roots or honey, where the beaver pats the mud with his paddle-shaped tail;.

Over the growing sugar, over the yellow-flower'd cotton plant, over the rice in its low moist field,. Over the sharp-peak'd farm house, with its scallop'd scum and slender shoots from the gutters,. Over the western persimmon, over the long-leav'd corn, over the delicate blue-flower flax,. Over the white and brown buckwheat, a hummer and buzzer there with the rest,. Over the dusky green of the rye as it ripples and shades in the breeze;.

Scaling mountains, pulling myself cautiously up, holding on by low scragged limbs,. Walking the path worn in the grass and beat through the leaves of the brush,. Where the bat flies in the Seventh-month eve, where the great gold- bug drops through the dark,. Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old tree and flows to the meadow,.

Where cattle stand and shake away flies with the tremulous shud- dering of their hides,. Where the cheese-cloth hangs in the kitchen, where andirons straddle the hearth-slab, where cobwebs fall in festoons from the rafters;. Where trip-hammers crash, where the press is whirling its cylinders,. Wherever the human heart beats with terrible throes under its ribs,. Where the pear-shaped balloon is floating aloft, floating in it my- self and looking composedly down,. Where the life-car is drawn on the slip-noose, where the heat hatches pale-green eggs in the dented sand,.

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Where the fin of the shark cuts like a black chip out of the water,. Where shells grow to her slimy deck, where the dead are corrupt- ing below;. Where the dense-starr'd flag is borne at the head of the regiments,. Under Niagara, the cataract falling like a veil over my countenance,. Upon the race-course, or enjoying picnics or jigs or a good game of base-ball,. At he-festivals, with blackguard gibes, ironical license, bull-dances, drinking, laughter,. At the cider-mill tasting the sweets of the brown mash, sucking the juice through a straw,. At musters, beach-parties, friendly bees, huskings, house-raisings;.

Where the mocking-bird sounds his delicious gurgles, cackles, screams, weeps,. Where the hay-rick stands in the barn-yard, where the dry-stalks are scatter'd, where the brood-cow waits in the hovel,. Where the bull advances to do his masculine work, where the stud to the mare, where the cock is treading the hen,. Where the heifers browse, where geese nip their food with short jerks,. Where sun-down shadows lengthen over the limitless and lonesome prairie,. Where herds of buffalo make a crawling spread of the square miles far and near,. Where the humming-bird shimmers, where the neck of the long- lived swan is curving and winding,.

Where the laughing-gull scoots by the shore, where she laughs her near-human laugh,. Where bee-hives range on a gray bench in the garden half hid by the high weeds,. Where band-neck'd partridges roost in a ring on the ground with their heads out,. Where the yellow-crown'd heron comes to the edge of the marsh at night and feeds upon small crabs,.

Where the katy-did works her chromatic reed on the walnut-tree over the well,. Through patches of citrons and cucumbers with silver-wired leaves,. Through the gymnasium, through the curtain'd saloon, through the office or public hall;. Pleas'd with the native and pleas'd with the foreign, pleas'd with the new and old,.

Pleas'd with the quakeress as she puts off her bonnet and talks melodiously,. Pleas'd with the earnest words of the sweating Methodist preach- er, impress'd seriously at the camp-meeting;. Looking in at the shop-windows of Broadway the whole forenoon, flatting the flesh of my nose on the thick plate glass,.

Wandering the same afternoon with my face turn'd up to the clouds, or down a lane or along the beach,. My right and left arms round the sides of two friends, and I in the middle;. Coming home with the silent and dark-cheek'd bush-boy, behind me he rides at the drape of the day,. Far from the settlements studying the print of animals' feet, or the moccasin print,.

By the cot in the hospital reaching lemonade to a feverish patient,. Nigh the coffin'd corpse when all is still, examining with a candle;. Solitary at midnight in my back yard, my thoughts gone from me a long while,. Walking the old hills of Judaea with the beautiful gentle God by my side,.

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Speeding amid the seven satellites and the broad ring, and the diameter of eighty thousand miles,. Carrying the crescent child that carries its own full mother in its belly,. My messengers continually cruise away or bring their returns to me. I go hunting polar furs and the seal, leaping chasms with a pike- pointed staff, clinging to topples of brittle and blue. Through the clear atmosphere I stretch around on the wonderful beauty,. The enormous masses of ice pass me and I pass them, the scenery is plain in all directions,. The white-topt mountains show in the distance, I fling out my fancies toward them,.

We are approaching some great battle-field in which we are soon to be engaged,. We pass the colossal outposts of the encampment, we pass with still feet and caution,. The blocks and fallen architecture more than all the living cities of the globe. My voice is the wife's voice, the screech by the rail of the stairs,. How the skipper saw the crowded and rudderless wreck of the steam-ship, and Death chasing it up and down the storm,.

How he knuckled tight and gave not back an inch, and was faith ful of days and faithful of nights,. And chalk'd in large letters on a board, Be of good cheer, we will not desert you;. How he follow'd with them and tack'd with them three days and would not give it up,. How the lank loose-gown'd women look'd when boated from the side of their prepared graves,.

How the silent old-faced infants and the lifted sick, and the sharp- lipp'd unshaved men;. All this I swallow, it tastes good, I like it well, it becomes mine,. The mother of old, condemn'd for a witch, burnt with dry wood, her children gazing on,. The hounded slave that flags in the race, leans by the fence, blow- ing, cover'd with sweat,. The twinges that sting like needles his legs and neck, the mur- derous buckshot and the bullets,.

Hell and despair are upon me, crack and again crack the marks- men,. I clutch the rails of the fence, my gore dribs, thinn'd with the ooze of my skin,. Taunt my dizzy ears and beat me violently over the head with whip-stocks. I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person,. Heat and smoke I inspired, I heard the yelling shouts of my com- rades,. I lie in the night air in my red shirt, the pervading hush is for my sake,. White and beautiful are the faces around me, the heads are bared of their fire-caps,. They show as the dial or move as the hands of me, I am the clock myself.

The fall of grenades through the rent roof, the fan-shaped explo- sion,. Again gurgles the mouth of my dying general, he furiously waves with his hand,. He gasps through the clot Mind not me—mind—the entrench- ments. Retreating they had form'd in a hollow square with their baggage for breastworks,. Nine hundred lives out of the surrounding enemy's, nine times their number, was the price they took in advance,.

They treated for an honorable capitulation, receiv'd writing and seal, gave up their arms and march'd back prisoners of war. The second First-day morning they were brought out in squads and massacred, it was beautiful early summer,. Some made a mad and helpless rush, some stood stark and straight,. A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart, the living and dead lay together,. The maim'd and mangled dug in the dirt, the new-comers saw hem there,. These were despatch'd with bayonets or batter'd with the blunts of muskets,. A youth not seventeen years old seiz'd his assassin till two more came to release him,.

That is the tale of the murder of the four hundred and twelve young men. List to the yarn, as my grandmother's father the sailor told it to me. His was the surly English pluck, and there is no tougher or truer, and never was, and never will be;. On our lower-gun-deck two large pieces had burst at the first fire, killing all around and blowing up overhead. Ten o'clock at night, the full moon well up, our leaks on the gain, and five feet of water reported,. The master-at-arms loosing the prisoners confined in the after-hold to give them a chance for themselves.

The transit to and from the magazine is now stopt by the sentinels,. We have not struck, he composedly cries, we have just begun our part of the fighting. One is directed by the captain himself against the enemy's main- mast,. Two well serv'd with grape and canister silence his musketry and clear his decks. The tops alone second the fire of this little battery, especially the main-top,. The leaks gain fast on the pumps, the fire eats toward the powder- magazine.

One of the pumps has been shot away, it is generally thought we are sinking. Toward twelve there in the beams of the moon they surrender to us. Our vessel riddled and slowly sinking, preparations to pass to the one we have conquer'd,. The captain on the quarter-deck coldly giving his orders through a countenance white as a sheet,. The dead face of an old salt with long white hair and carefully curl'd whiskers,. The flames spite of all that can be done flickering aloft and below,. Formless stacks of bodies and bodies by themselves, dabs of flesh upon the masts and spars,.

Cut of cordage, dangle of rigging, slight shock of the soothe of waves,. Delicate sniffs of sea-breeze, smells of sedgy grass and fields by the shore, death-messages given in charge to survivors,. Wheeze, cluck, swash of falling blood, short wild scream, and long, dull, tapering groan,. For me the keepers of convicts shoulder their carbines and keep watch,.

Not a mutineer walks handcuff'd to jail but I am handcuff'd to him and walk by his side,. I am less the jolly one there, and more the silent one with sweat on my twitching lips. Not a youngster is taken for larceny but I go up too, and am tried and sentenced. Not a cholera patient lies at the last gasp but I also lie at the last gasp,. My face is ash-color'd, my sinews gnarl, away from me people retreat.

Askers embody themselves in me and I am embodied in them,. Give me a little time beyond my cuff'd head, slumbers, dreams, gaping,. That I could forget the trickling tears and the blows of the bludg- eons and hammers! That I could look with a separate look on my own crucifixion and bloody crowning. The grave of rock multiplies what has been confided to it, or to any graves,. I troop forth replenish'd with supreme power, one of an average unending procession,. The blossoms we wear in our hats the growth of thousands of years. They desire he should like them, touch them, speak to them, stay with them.

Slow-stepping feet, common features, common modes and ema- nations,. They are wafted with the odor of his body or breath, they fly out of the glance of his eyes. And might tell what it is in me and what it is in you, but cannot,. And might tell that pining I have, that pulse of my nights and days. I am not to be denied, I compel, I have stores plenty and to spare,. And when you rise in the morning you will find what I tell you is so. In my portfolio placing Manito loose, Allah on a leaf, the crucifix engraved,.

They bore mites as for unfledg'd birds who have now to rise and fly and sing for themselves,. Accepting the rough deific sketches to fill out better in myself, bestowing them freely on each man and woman I see,. Putting higher claims for him there with his roll'd-up sleeves driving the mallet and chisel,. Not objecting to special revelations, considering a curl of smoke or a hair on the back of my hand just as curious as any revelation,. Lads ahold of fire-engines and hook-and-ladder ropes no less to me than the gods of the antique wars,.

Their brawny limbs passing safe over charr'd laths, their white foreheads whole and unhurt out of the flames;. By the mechanic's wife with her babe at her nipple interceding for every person born,. Three scythes at harvest whizzing in a row from three lusty angels with shirts bagg'd out at their waists,. The snag-tooth'd hostler with red hair redeeming sins past and to come,.

Selling all he possesses, traveling on foot to fee lawyers for his brother and sit by him while he is tried for forgery;. What was strewn in the amplest strewing the square rod about me, and not filling the square rod then,. The supernatural of no account, myself waiting my time to be one of the supremes,. The day getting ready for me when I shall do as much good as the best, and be as prodigious;. Now the performer launches his nerve, he has pass'd his prelude on the reeds within. Easily written loose-finger'd chords—I feel the thrum of your climax and close.

Ever the eaters and drinkers, ever the upward and downward sun, ever the air and the ceaseless tides,. Ever the old inexplicable query, ever that thorn'd thumb, that breath of itches and thirsts,. Ever the vexer's hoot! Tickets buying, taking, selling, but in to the feast never once going. Many sweating, ploughing, thrashing, and then the chaff for pay- ment receiving,. Whatever interests the rest interests me, politics, wars, markets, newspapers, schools,.

The mayor and councils, banks, tariffs, steamships, factories, stocks, stores, real estate and personal estate. The little plentiful manikins skipping around in collars and tail'd coats,. I am aware who they are, they are positively not worms or fleas,. I acknowledge the duplicates of myself, the weakest and shallowest is deathless with me,. This printed and bound book—but the printer and the printing- office boy?

The well-taken photographs—but your wife or friend close and solid in your arms? The black ship mail'd with iron, her mighty guns in her turrets— but the pluck of the captain and engineers? In the houses the dishes and fare and furniture—but the host and hostess, and the look out of their eyes? Enclosing worship ancient and modern and all between ancient and modern,. Believing I shall come again upon the earth after five thousand years,. Waiting responses from oracles, honoring the gods, saluting the sun,.

Making a fetich of the first rock or stump, powowing with sticks in the circle of obis,. Dancing yet through the streets in a phallic procession, rapt and austere in the woods a gymnosophist,. Drinking mead from the skull-cup, to Shastas and Vedas admirant, minding the Koran,. Walking the teokallis, spotted with gore from the stone and knife, beating the serpent-skin drum,.

Accepting the Gospels, accepting him that was crucified, knowing assuredly that he is divine,. To the mass kneeling or the puritan's prayer rising, or sitting patiently in a pew,. Ranting and frothing in my insane crisis, or waiting dead-like till my spirit arouses me,. Looking forth on pavement and land, or outside of pavement and land,.

One of that centripetal and centrifugal gang I turn and talk like a man leaving charges before a journey. Frivolous, sullen, moping, angry, affected, dishearten'd, atheistical,. I know every one of you, I know the sea of torment, doubt, despair and unbelief. How they contort rapid as lightning, with spasms and spouts of blood! And what is yet untried and afterward is for you, me, all, precisely the same.

Each who passes is consider'd, each who stops is consider'd, not a single one can it fail. Nor the little child that peep'd in at the door, and then drew back and was never seen again,. Nor the old man who has lived without purpose, and feels it with bitterness worse than gall,.

They have some talented kids, as I saw when I got some involved in acting out poems. Thanks Ms M for organising my visit, and I loved talking to the kids after, they were amazing. I was first at Pukemiro School back in as their Duffy Books role model, and it was pretty special to be back again working with incredible students. The day began with drama fun activities, followed by writing workshops.

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  • Wow, these kids got their brains into gear and the ideas they were coming up with were outstanding. Like the story about Jerry the mouse who discovers he's lactose intolerant when he eats some cheese in the fridge. Pure gold! Hello year 3 and 4 at the outstanding St Peter Chanel primary school.

    It was a small group of 3 classrooms, and they were ready to have fun with poetry. They had a real sense of enthusiasm about them, along with their delightful teachers. I discovered I taught drama to one the teacher's children a few years ago, small world! After morning tea I got to spend special time with Room 8 talking about writing, and we wrote a fabulous 'jackiwa' poem about going parachuting.

    Wow, doesn't even begin to describe how this was. It's one of the best days in my writing career. To share poetry and my books with so many interested and positive grandparents was truly rewarding, not to mention the incredible feedback I was given. The kids were happy to see me return.

    Yes I felt like a celebrity for a time. Showing them that they are more capable than they often realise. It is rewarding to see children 'switch on' to that fact. Then it was the lunchtime drama group. What a talented and outgoing group they are. It's good noise. I am reveling in working with these kids. I'm the luckiest person in the whole wide world, as I get to have so much fun at work. Made me want to go back to school if it's that much fun. The kids were really on to it when it came to giving me ideas for another Granny book.

    Sounds like fun. Thanks Mrs H for organising. Hahaha look at my face. No wonders kids laugh when I am performing. One of my biggest fans attends CPS. The staff are supportive of my work and I am grateful. This is one of my favourite places. Even Les made the photos today. Today was like a fireworks display at Hautapu School, as it was a 'double happy' day, I started with a drama and oral story telling based writing workshop. The kids had fun using drama to tell some fantastic stories based on one of my poems.

    I loved their feedback, if you say a story, then you can write it down. Right on! A short break, and it was week 2 of the lunchtime drama group. I'm loving working with these talented kids. They're enthusiastic and all get totally involved. They all brought their senses of humour with them, and I reckon they'd been having laughing out loud practice in class.

    Their huge smiles and happy faces just made me want to be even sillier. I greatly appreciated the staff as well. We rocked! Ngahinapouri School won a poetry performance, and today was the day for me to head along and entertain some great kids. They were so full of life and energy, with an incredible sense of fun. That makes my job so much more enjoyable. Having teachers who join in the hilarity always adds to the whole experience.

    I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Mr P's class talking about writing. I was honoured to read some of their work aloud. Some real talent in that room. Another fabulous teacher Mrs M, had organised my visit. After lunch on Friday is never easy, so thanks to all you fantastic kids for your positive welcome. I met two hilarious actors, who gave us all a huge laugh as they added a new twist to the end of a poem. A great visit with some special moments that I got to share with my cousins too. Thumbs up to the Principal, as she came for a look. This was another case of no school can be as good, then you arrive, and think hmmm, maybe somewhere else can be a lot of fun too.

    Welboun Primary School was marvelously magical, and all ready to put their smiles and laughter into action. They were prepared to enjoy my poetry from the first line. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Mrs R's class afterward, and this picture was taken when I tested a fun new resource on them. I was blessed to meet some aspiring young writers. I loved being told I should be a comedienne! What a glorious day it was. The mountain was in full view. The children waiting inside were equally spectacular as were the staff, especially Mr Williams, who was 'simply the best. I was excited to run writing workshops, and very happy some children told me I'd inspired them.

    Thanks guys. Freezing weather and rain outside, but the warmest smiles and greeting was waiting for us inside the door. What a treat to visit the coastal town of Mokau and the fabulous Mokau School. Small in student numbers, but huge in personality and talent. I met some of the most amazing young actors ever. Loved the character voice one young man came up with.

    Enjoyed spending time helping the kids with their poetry writing skills. Thanks to super friendly staff also. It was a great morning. You must love going to school to spend time with all those great kids. What a lot of fun we had. Someone asked me how I got to be so funny. I guess I was just born silly! We talked about made up words - does anyone out there know what the words 'moodle' and 'reekid' mean? You heard them first at Room 19 Frankton School. A place everyone should visit. Hautapu School is like poetry, it rocks. I've spent time there over the last few years, and it was special to get to perform my poetry for the children.

    Normally they perform for me, as I have judged their annual speech competition, then worked with their finalists. What a fabulous audience they were, I really appreciated their enthusiasm and involvement. Looking forward to the upcoming workshops. Wow Rosie was loving this new book she got to read this morning. This book is all about feelings, identifying them, and what you can do about it.

    A great addition to any library, aimed at 3 - 7 year olds. I was very lucky because Adam came to visit me and have a chat about books and getting started. I didn't realise how much I'd learnt until I got talking. Haha poor Adam. Anyone Rosie loves has to be special. Check out Adam's website at www. This morning I spent special time in Ms Rowe's class at the amazing St Columbas School which is one of my neigbourhood schools. I was greeted by an awesome class of year 2 students who were busy finding rhyming words for jump when I arrived. Wow they're clever, some even got the word chump which I was outstanding.

    We had fun with the 'digraph dance' poem, and I even shared two new poems. I also accidentally deleted my photos grrrrrr. This afternoon was time to talk about poetry and writing at David St. It was super to return to this fabulous school after a few years. One thing that hasn't changed is the kids are still brilliant stars with their talent shining through.

    Schools and places Judi visits - Read feedback - Rainbow Poetry

    I spent time with a group of talented young writers, sharing poetry, writing tips and learning from one another. It was the perfect way to end the day helping then realise they can find ideas and write. You may have read that I'm the St Jo's expert, well I was in action again today, this time at St Joseph's Morrinsville where I was welcomed by a hall full of faces waiting to be entertained. I absolutely loved their enthusiasm and energy at having a laugh and eagerness to join in..

    I was blessed to visit three classrooms after my poetry performance which always excites me. Thanks Ms Hudson for organising. Dargaville Primary was a barrel of laughs from start to finish. What a fabulous and delightful group of students, with some equally great teachers. They were ready for action, and their laughter and giggles inspired me to perform and feed off their energy. It was a hot day and they remained focused and engaged throughout. I loved the time I spent after with a group of talented young writers who even chose to stay and work with me for longer through their lunchtime.

    We got to talk about writing, then even squeezed in a drama game. I had a blast, thanks everyone! The children were super excited to have a visitor, and in no time were fully involved having fun. I met another drama Queen here who lived up to her name by even using an accent in our performance. My favourite photo is the teachers joining in. They were as much fun as the kids! Thanks Ms Lyndsay for everything. Marvellous Matakohe School was the perfect place to end a very busy day. The sense of fun was evident from the moment we walked into the hall.

    Sixty outstanding students all ready and waiting to join in the fun of poetry, and fun was just what we all had together. This part of the country is gorgeous so I can understand why they all smile. I snuck in half an hour in a classroom after the poetry performance, and you know how much I enjoy that. I even gained a new grandson. Everyone was superb, thanks a million for everything. What an interesting start I'm having to this year. Before schools are back into the swing of things, it's a chance for me to get out and about.

    What a great time, and everyone enjoyed my poetry performance. It's always fun when I get adults up and joining in. Teachers are a dedicated bunch and I applaud what they do. I found a great spot under the trees, and was lucky enough to get to share my books with some of the children as I read them my poems. They learnt some Maori words too which they enjoyed. I left a set of books for them to keep. I was welcomed into their class by their lovely teacher and had a good look around. There were so many smiles and hugs that made it a magical day.

    Well folks my work fun is over now for The year ended last night when Les and I went to Cambridge for their district speech finals. Twenty two talented young students from years 5 to 8, representing eleven schools were presenting their topics to an enthusiastic audience. They all did themselves proud, and I was brimming with excitement for their achievement.

    The perfect way to end my year! This was my last school visit for the year. It was really great to meet so many 'neighbourhood' children. The kids were brilliant, and it always gives me a smile when so many want to be involved in acting out my poems. What an amazing job they did, a bit out there and not scared to have fun.

    After the poetry performance, I spent time in Whaea Jo's class where I got to know her class a little more. We talked about writing, and I shared more poetry. I absolutely loved my time there. Their school show opens this week and I offered to help out by running a rehearsal for their director my clever daughter , who was unavailable.

    Always special to see a production come together. Good luc k! Thanks Greenpark School for such a fantastic visit in Tauranga today. I thoroughly enjoyed entertaining hundreds of awesome kids with fun poetry and we had a lot of laughs together. Spending time in Miss Harris's class was very special, as each child had written a 'jackiwa' poem, which they presented to me to take home.

    Thanks to the talented writers for their company during the writing workshop. There were some fabulous speeches, and entertaining performances by eight talented students. As a bonus I got to hear the non judged speeches of the junior school. The talent coming up through the ranks was obvious. Good luck for the next round, and I'm looking forward to working with you before the finals. Haha, isn't this a great photo of some of the students at Karangahake School , in the stunning Karangahake Gorge.

    I was lucky to get to spend two whole days here. Day 1 was fun drama activities across the school, and you can see what fun we all had. Day 2 was writing across the whole school. Seeing those children who struggle with working in groups or in front of an audience, achieve, was an absolute reward. I'd been there in term 3 as their Duffy Books role model, and was honoured to be asked back again. This time to run drama based oral storytelling workshops with their students right through the whole school. Loads of excitement and enthusiasm, as the children got fully involved.

    I finished the say spending time with their keen young writers. Great day! I forgot to take my camera when I was back at Cambridge Primary, so snapped this fabulous shot of their Enviro garden. Isn't it stunning. I was privileged to judge the senior speech finals and what a great line up. Great topics like Victorian children, dreams, Harrods, dogs, money and more which informed and entertained.

    I look forward to watching the winners in the district finals. Well done every one. I left Goodwood School on a high, and this was to continue when I drove into Tauwhare School , a short way up the road. These trips remind me I live in a beautiful country. I was greeted by four friendly and welcoming school ambassadors who did their school proud. My poetry performance was full of fun and energy, with so many brilliant students keen to get up and be involved. Loved my time here, and want to return.

    This week has been one for visiting country schools. They're always fun as they often have a more relaxed open feel. Goodwood School just out of Cambridge was absolutely brilliant. What a friendly bunch, and that's just the staff! They were great. Speaking of favourite schools, 'Hello Maihiihi ' full of personality, professionalism and fun. I was blessed to spend the entire day here working with the children on drama based oral storytelling, leading to writing. The kids were totally engaged and hooked in, coming up with great ideas.

    A favourite was Mrs Goop the dinosaur teacher.

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    I also presented a short workshop for their community on reading and writing, how it's connected, and tips to help at home. It's speeches time at Cambridge Primary, another fabulous school here in the beautiful Waikato. The speeches are well on the way to being completed, ow it's time for performance tips. I find it frustrating when I hear children with great speeches, but they lack performance skills. I applaud Cambridge Primary for giving all their students a chance to do well. I enjoy seeing the growth in confidence and helping children reach their potential.

    Sunset School is one of my very favourite schools to spend time. The staff room is just the best. I wasn't booked to visit here, but while working at MindPlus I was hijacked by some of Whaea Prue's fantastic students who were excited to see me at their school. They even asked Les if I could stay a bit longer to visit their class. How could I refuse, so we found time to share some poetry and we were ll happy. I have to agree, as I got to meet yet more outstanding, funny, warm, welcoming students and staff. What a blast I had with their year 4, 5 and 6 children.

    It was simply the best, and I loved seeing them discover the joy of language, and learning that poetry rocks. I must have have done something right last year when I visited MindPlus School in Rotorua, as I was delighted to be asked back again to work with their talented young writers over three days.

    Their teacher Sue is one of the most incredible teachers I've ever had the privilege to work with. She has such an insightful approach to teaching and understanding her student's needs. It's a school I enjoy visiting, and this class was no exception. Great questions and sharing by some super awesome students, followed by fun poetry sharing, including getting some of them involved and finding their inner drama kings and queens. Thanks for a great time and the brilliant flowers and bestest ever card. You rock. The school holidays gives me a chance to get out in the community. What a great morning,with brilliant hospitality, tasty morning tea, and two gorgeous guide dogs who look as if they were either bored or mesmerised!

    Term 3 was full on for me. When it ended, the following day I was at the Te Awamutu Performing Arts festival helping run the weekend, and also watching my drama students achieve some great results. Most promising newcomer and 12 and over. Cup for entertaining to the highest degree. A highlight is who wins the supreme award and my granddaughter was the winner. Her sister was Highly Commended. Well done girls. The last week of Term 3 took me back to one of my favourite places, Cambridge Primary School.

    I was asked to help the students with their upcoming speeches. It was time to talk about topics, which are often a stumbling block for many children. It's about finding their strengths and life experiences, and coming up with a topic that can come from the heart. Then looking at what makes a speech stand out, such as a good introduction and strong conclusion. I tell them just like a story, it needs a beginning, middle and ending. I forgot my camera, so this photo is of their 2 fabulous finalists last year who went on to be winners. This morning I was honoured to work with a group of talented young writers from Otorohanga Primary, Otorohanga South, Maihiihi who hosted thanks and Waitomo Caves.

    I had the pleasure of not only hearing their winning entries in a recent writing competition, but also reading it aloud to an appreciative audience. The writers were blown away by how good their stories sounded. I met some talented children. My favourite moments are when a child begins by saying they hate writing, but when I leave they're wanting to get back to class to write a story as they have an idea.

    These children reinforced the value of drama for storytelling. Sunnyhills School provided me with smiles, and real belly laughs. It was a brilliantly rewarding experience. When staff are so friendly they provide great role models for their students. Poetry performances sure did rock.

    John Milton

    It was one of the best. Thanks John for your interactive sense of fun and involvement. The writing workshop after was an amazing experience, seeing children finding their inner writer they didn't know existed. I'd come back anytime. One idea kids! Thanks Pakuranga Heights for one of the best day s ever.

    From start to finish the day flowed, and I was made to feel a part of the school. Thanks to the amazing staff for their support. I enjoyed seeing the kids writing, and sharing their work. The shortest labour on record. A wrap up event for National Poetry Day took place here in Hamilton yesterday. With drama and writing workshops, followed by a poetry soiree, time whizzed by. Sandra Timlin, Kenzi Larsen and myself were the tutors, and had a great day. Seeing kids embracing language then performing their work was brilliant.

    I've already heard from one mum saying her son was inspired. Oral language and poetry were the stars. This week I've been spending a bit of time with some of Pukete School's amazingly talented young speechmakers. Yesterday I worked with the finalists on their performance, and I loved how they listened and made some minor changes to their presentations. This morning I judged their final, and wow were they fantastic. I was extremely impressed with the quality of their speeches, and topics. A disappointment was that there were no boys.

    I judged with a fabulous young teacher, and we had some real tough decisions to make. It was great to see the top 3 all get a medal. Thanks Mrs A for outstanding organisational skills. Job well done Pukete! Was great to be working with local children at Te Totara School for their book week. I got to work with hundreds of gorgeous year 0 to 2 children over the day. We had so much fun looking for clues. This is a photo of some of the super heroes. Thank you to the teacher who thanked me as some of her boys were straight into class wanting to write.

    I have a passion for helping young people achieve their best at performance, and public speaking is a real love of mine. When I was asked to be a judge I was honoured and in esteemed company. This amazing young orator from Tokoroa was declared the winner, and receives a trip to the USA and Canada, as a reward. What an amazing opportunity the Lions clubs offer these talented young speakers from around the country.

    As we walked into the office at Newtown School we were greeted by the amazing Rachel along with the Principal, thanking myself and Les for visiting. This was greatly appreciated. The hall was full of eager children ready to enjoy poetry. They were an interactive audience, full of energy and sparkle. I especially enjoyed meeting Frances, an extremely talented young poet who shared two of her poems. I was honoured she let me read one of them aloud to her peers. I met some very special people here, and admit I fell a lot in like with a gorgeous city and some gorgeous children who stole my heart.

    Kenakena School on the beautiful Kapiti Coast was a special place for me to visit, as they have a young talented writer as a student who is published in one of my books. Meeting Imogen was a highlight for me. Her mum and dad being there was a bonus. What a great time we had, lots of laughs and fun enjoying poetry. They said they'd be delighted to have me pop into school even if briefly.

    Small schools are always special in their own way, and often seem more like a family. Foxton Beach School. Wow, wow, wow what an amazing experience. The juniors were excited and enthusiastic. Les has to drag me away as I was having so much fun. A special past drama student of mine has children at Raetihi School, so a special place to be. We started off with a lively poetry performance. I loved the positive response from the children. I also got to share some of their fabulous poetry writing. Well it's that time of year again, whether you love them or hate them, they have to be done.

    They can be a struggle for some children and I was lucky enough to be at Pukete School in Hamilton this morning to help with tips about topic, content, intro and summary. A great school with super kids and staff. These two look pretty happy! Look forward to judging their finals. Another special school, as I have family connections here. The kids were buzzing and excited which makes for a lively visit.

    I was greeted with an awesome power point about ….. Wow, I felt like a real celebrity. We had fun performing. I was given amazing rainbow flowers to thank me by an equally amazing Mrs Harris. I met a delightful young man who I'd liked to have brought home with me! I was excited from the minute I arrived. Thanks Helen for making it happen. The kids were enthusiastic and positive about absolutely everything from start to finish. So many memories for me and all those hugs made it even better. I'd love to have stayed all day it was just fantastic! Thanks Miss Knights for asking me, you're a legend.

    Also all other incredible teachers involved. From poetry performance to writing workshops, we covered the lot. I had a blast from start to finish, and even the downpour didn't dampen anyone's enthusiasm. Thoroughly enjoyed working with the writers and seeing talent oozing out of them. Well done! Thanks to St Mary Mackillop in Mangere for such a varied and interesting visit. I always enjoy spending time with budding young authors and answering questions. I had great fun in the junior class as we did 'the diagraph dance' together.

    Te Rapa School was somewhere I was keen to visit as they already have my books in their library. This was a good opportunity for them to meet the author……. It was also special, as one of their teachers was someone I knew as a young girl in Te Kuiti. It was like one big happy family. I enjoyed sharing my poems, and valued the time I spent after talking to those children who love writing. Thanks for a great visit. When it was time to go, it was hug time, and I love hugs from special people. At this performance, was one of the most amazing teachers ever, as soon as I opened my mouth she was on side with her reactions.

    Woo hoo Kiokio School, what a vibrant and fun bunch of students and teachers were ready and waiting for me when I arrived. It was go, go go, from start to finish, with lots of audience involvement and laughter. The staff were brilliant at playing along. Their audience will be wowed by their talent. Another super country school.