Poet’s Success

August 25th was National Poetry Day this year, and it landed at LPHS with some potency.

Year 12 student Charles Ross was named the winner of not one but two national poetry competitions, achieving a very distinctive and impressive duo to celebrate the day.

Te Ptahi Tuhi Auaha o te Ao | The International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) holds the National Schools Poetry Award annually for Year 12 and 13 students. Charles’ poem The New Year was chosen as one of nine finalists for the top ten poems this year.

The overall winner and nine finalists all received cash and prizes for their poems, as well as attendance at an exclusive masterclass with leading New Zealand poets at the IIML on Te Herenga Waka | Victoria University of Wellington’s Kelburn campus. This proved to be an incredibly rich reward, as more poetry was shared and created in this dynamic and celebratory space. Read all the winning poems here.

Early into period two on August 25th, Charles was also greeted with more news of success, as they were selected as the winner of the Year 12 section of the Poetry Aotearoa Yearbook Competition, organised by Massey University. Editor and judge Tracey Slaughter commented on Charles’ poem as showing a: ‘Strong, open, involving voice with relaxed, graceful tone and a fresh contemporary feel, drawing the reader into a clearly lit scene.’ She was especially struck by the line: ‘bright citrus slices of light/ that create bold shadows on my wall because my friend’s father sold the curtains’.

Charles’ winning poem, Hikaroroa, will be published in the 2023 edition of the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook along with the other first-place selections, and each poet and their school will also receive a copy of the book. Read all the winning poems here.

Both competitions are popular and aspirational events, making the calibre of poetry particularly impressive and offering us new ways of seeing both the old and new worlds. LPHS could not be more impressed with Charles’ success.

The New Year

A pull,

to the very end of the beach’s curve,

to the rock tipped great wide wingspan,

the finish of the pale stretch of sand.

We set out

the line gripped in my hand

drawn by the promise

of the capture of a meal.

I untangle my line

along with my thoughts

it’s a chase

it’s a wait

then it’s a pull pull pull

evasive, slick, slippery but


it carries the dark

of the ocean on its skin

but I’m probably imagining the depths

in its eyes.

A body heavy as rain.

I stick my knife into its gills

one more jerk then it stills,

its body and a feeling of guilt

both settling

under my hands.

My needs are simple

I think I should stick

to that more often.

Back at the hut

scales come off easy, and pile up

fresh white flesh spits back from the pan,

well-fed smiles in the dark

there is no other way

I would rather have seen in the new year.


Inspired by Mary Oilver

If you get the right few firm friends

together talking in a kitchen

maybe there’s religion in that.

I’ll try to pray

by watching the geese fly overhead

from where I am


on the porch with my friend

as she has her morning smoke

in the fresh air

by gazing out at Hikaroroa, remembering

that this rounded peak

six hundred and sixteen metres

high on the horizon

had its name long before the Reverend James

ever set foot on this soil.

I’ll sit in the red lazy-boy chair with my feet up

running my fingers over the blackened holes in the left arm rest

cigarette burns

from when my friend’s Nana used to chain-smoke

in this lounge

before she died

and we’ll pretend this space is the confessional:

“It has been good to be here with you both”

I place my thoughts down

and wait to see how they are received.

“Then stay, move in” she says to me

“You really could, if you want” he echoes her

so I hang my keys on their spare hook as a joke

right after

but hey, what the hell,

I could get used to this.

The roundabout walk to the beach feels like a pilgrimage

with the sun lowering

casting our shadows longer and longer

and the grapes that we steal

to share along the way

and how it ends as it does

with our stock-still group

staring out at the sea

as its surface sprays up

slamming the pillars of rock

that rise up on this still sunny side of the pa.

We make it back by evening to dance around the hazy lounge

to the dumbest songs,

and one friend says

“It’s so f-cking funny how you’re all going so hard to this sh-t I f-cking love you guys”

in one breath

from where she’s sitting on the couch

a glorified single mattress.

I can wake at six and wait

for the sun to rise at seven

and experience something similar

or akin to ascension

while watching the low hanging morning sun

come through the grapevine

bright citrus slices of light

that create bold shadows on my wall

because my friends father sold the curtains

I enjoy witnessing each day

as it approaches and recedes

watching the sun rise and the sky expand at night

stars lurking and emerging

and there, too, is religion

felt in that mundane vigil.

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