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Palliser Bay

A winning Seaweek Poem from 2019 ( First published in Write On Issue 52)

by Pieta Year 9

Palliser Bay

The ocean whispers.

The sound of a crab who will not breathe. In front of me the waves are midnight blue, painted by the sky. The sea foam looks like stars.

Behind me the cliff casts shadows on the moonlit pebble beach. The trees do the same on the cliff’s grassy top. The ocean whispers.

The sound of a crab who will not breathe. “Never take from the ocean,” my grandmother says. So I leave the paua shell at my feet to rest. I wish the moon could draw toward it the rising tides so that I could stay here a little longer before the sea reclaims the land. I remember the footfalls of taniwha.

When I was young, they seemed so real. The ocean whispers.

The sound of a crab who will not breathe. Night has turned the grey stones silver. Night has touched the tree’s leaves gold. A gull moves stones industriously, searching for something. Aren’t we all? He finds a small white crab in his excavation spot. It drags a broken grey shell. It clutches it to its back. The tidelines have risen so much over the years. It holds onto a broken shell As I hold on to hope The ocean whispers.

The sound of a crab who does not breathe.

What we noticed.

# The poet takes us to a beach experienced in different ways. In the first section, we are shown the beach visually, in the second we are connected with the poet's personal experiences and responses, and in the third these two come together with the beach at night, the fate of the crab and the hope of the poet all entwined.

# The refrain throughout the poem

The ocean whispers

The sound of a crab who will not breathe

is used to connect the three main ideas. Each time it is used it evokes a response from the reader—we recognise it but experience it in a different way.

# Surprising and apt language choices help this poem shine.

the waves are midnight blue, painted by the sky.

I remember the footfalls of taniwha

Night has turned the grey stones silver

A gull moves stones industriously


If these tips look familiar... they are! Check back on previous posts.

How you structure and shape your poetry is up to you but you may wish to consider the following:

  • Use some sensory language that shows rather than tells. Words such as lovely, beautiful, nice mean you are telling the reader what to think. Instead use sensory descriptions so that they can say 'that is beautiful" or scary or disgusting for themselves!

  • Use more than one sense.

  • Have fun with sound effects.

  • As your poem progresses bring in a new idea or perspective.

  • Once you have a first draft, spend some time on making specific language choices. Check out other available verbs by using a thesaurus, or research specific names for the creatures you are writing about. Using specific nouns and verbs will make your writing zing!

  • Finish up your poem by making cuts. This doesn't come naturally but as Mark Twain said “Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” Gardeners know that you have to pull out the weeds and do a bit of pruning to let the garden flourish. It's the same with writing.

  • As always, read your work out loud to hear how it flows. You may need to tweak a few things before you say 'my poem is finished'.

Well done!

If you want more help and ideas, check out our Masterclasses happening in Canterbury during Seaweek, March 8-12.

If you are based in Canterbury please enter your poem in the Seaweek Canterbury Poetry Competition.

If you are outside of Canterbury please send it to us at Write On- we will still consider it for publication in Write On Magazine or on our blog.

email: Subject: Seaweek Poetry Submission

(c) Write On School for Young Writers 2021


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