National Schools Poetry Award 2021

By Esther Kristel and others | Posted: Saturday August 28, 2021

Congratulations to Darcy Monteath Yr 12 who was a national runner-up.

The National Schools Poetry Award, held annually by Te Pūtahi Tuhi Auaha o te Ao  The International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML), is open to Year 12 and 13 students across New Zealand.

This year, the shortlist of one winner and nine finalists was chosen by Wellington poet Tayi Tibble from over 200 entries nationwide. One of the nine finalists was Logan Park Year 12 student Darcy Monteath with her poem Who’s a Dog’s Best Friend?

Of working with teenagers Tayi says:

“Whenever I have the opportunity to work with teenagers, I always have a small hesitation. It’s a trauma response, because I know how much of a little horror my friends and I were back then; too cool, disruptive, disengaged, dumb and with a bad attitude. However, every time I do, I am blown away and completely inspired by how freaking cool teenagers are these days. They’re whip smart and passionate. They’re generous, thoughtful, keen and respectful. They are funny and warm. They write beautiful and thoughtful sentences and are always brave and keen to share them. What always impresses me the most, like, literally makes my jaw hit the floor, is their socio-political awareness and responsibility. They care about the world around them and the people that society affects, targets, isolates and disenfranchises.”

Darcy says that her chosen poem “can be interpreted environmentally, socially, and in a feminist sense ", and the multi-layered poem was commented upon by Tayi as being a “highly political” piece.

“‘Who’s a dog’s best friend’? by Darcy Monteath is highly political as well, though the tone and premise are humorous and bizarre. It kind of sounds like an old cowboy — ‘I aint ever seen a dog walk a man / imagine him; chained up ankles, sand rubbin’ raw on the peak of his knees’ — and the voice stood out among submissions. But alongside the humour is an intelligent and sophisticated exploration of man and the abuse of the natural world. ‘I aint ever seen a dog walk a man / but I tell ya what I have seen; big metal mouths that slobber on seeds / watching our ma grow cysts of concrete and chemtrails.’ Contrast, or juxtaposition, is something I’m always drawn to, and look for in poems.”

As a finalist Darcy will be attending an exclusive masterclass with leading New Zealand poets at the IIML on Te Herenga Waka | Victoria University of Wellington's Kelburn campus.

This is not the first time Darcy has been recognized at a national level for her outstanding writing ability, and we whole-heartedly congratulate her.

Read Darcy's poem below:

who's a dog's best friend?

i aint ever seen a dog walk a man.
imagine him; chained up ankles, sand rubbin’ raw on the peak of his knees,

sippin’ on drain water, dust mites n’ diesel.

he’d be spoilt, that man, no doubt, no doubt.

i aint ever seen a dog walk a man

but i seen menace of metal have a go at the belly of our ma

give her a big ol kiss goodnight or

take a bite out of her - the greedy bastard.

always wantin’

always grabbin’

never givin’

never sharin’

i aint ever seen a dog walk a man

all he ever does is be chewin’ on wasp nests n’ thickets

long rope n’ thistles, batteries n’ teabags

oh, he spits em out all right.

he spits n’ it seeps right into the skin of our ma and we weep, n’ weep, n’ weep

but there aint no use crying over spilt milk

i heard a man say that once

so i stole it

‘cause if a dog can walk a man,

then we can have all the power in the world.

i aint ever seen a dog walk a man

but i tell ya what i have seen;

big metal mouths that slobber on seeds

watchin our ma grow cysts of concrete and chemtrails

and she coughs’ n’ coughs’ n’ coughs

till dogs n’ cats n’ everything that bleeds

start coughin’ up the blood of man

till it’s a dog’s world no more.

i aint ever seen a dog walk a man

funny thought that, huh?

man’s best friend or whateva

well this dog’s been waitin’ on his

since man even got here.

Read the Otago Daily Times article by Wyatt Ryder 30/08/21below: 

Poetry valuable outlet for for national award runner-up

Poetry has been a form of self expression for Darcy Monteath for many years and now the young Dunedin poet has received national recognition for her way with words.

The 17-year-old Logan Park High School pupil was a runner-up in the annual National Schools Poetry Award this year with her poem, who's a dog's best friend?

She said she had never entered the competition before but after looking at past winners decided to play into her passions and write about politics and the environment.

Her entry explored environmental destruction from the perspective of a dog, who watched as humans made "cysts of concrete and chemtrails".

"It’s sort of like a rant for this dog," she said.

She wrote the poem through an environmental lens, but welcomed others to take away their own interpretation.

That nuance and subjectivity was one of the reasons she loved to write and read poetry.

"It’s always interested me and I think it’s really beautiful."

The finalists were meant to be attending a poetry workshop in Wellington run by poet Tayi Tibble next month, but the event had to be rescheduled.

It would hopefully go ahead later in the year, she said.

She was not quite sure why or when she started to write poetry, but had found it a valuable outlet whenever she wanted to express herself.

"I’ve always written poetry. Not necessarily good poetry, but I’ve always written it."

She did not know what the future held or where she wanted to take it, but she was certain she would keep writing poetry.

This was not the first time she had been rewarded with success for her writing.

Last year, she won the year 11 category of the New Zealand Yearbook Student Poetry Competition run by Massey University and came third in the Sargenson Short Story competition.

In 2019, she won the junior category of the WriteNow Secondary Schools Poetry Competition.