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Lois Middlemiss Poetry Award Winners
Photo by Burnside High School

Poetry Prowess!

Elizabeth Harrison —

There are many keen poets at Burnside and one who has been amazingly successful this year is E Wen Wong.

E Wen has won the first prize in the New Zealand Yearbook Student Poetry competition for her poem, Boston Building Blocks. Later in the year her poem fifty-one was awarded first prize in the Lois Middlemiss Poetry Competition which commemorates women’s suffrage. To top it off, becoming a finalist in the National Schools Poetry Award won her a trip to a master class on poetry in Wellington. The judge, Chris Tse, commented that her poem , “‘one world sleeps in an apple" views events in Christchurch through a more global lens. She forces us to consider how the shootings have placed New Zealand on an international stage, and what it means to grapple with the fact that we aren’t as removed from the atrocities that take place in other countries, namely America. The curious abstraction of the title, a phrase that is repeated throughout the poem, sets up a number of apple-related terms and associations, beginning with apple varieties through to the Big Apple itself, New York City. The clarity of the images in this poem is startling, with some details creating a sense of something being not quite right: ‘you are the Christmas colours in September streets...you are the yellow taxi exchanging clouds/ for chambers of memories’. In these lines, and others, the poem suspends the reader in a disorientating dream-like state, ‘lost in our own city.' The poem follows on for you to read:

one world sleeps in an apple

you are the red of Liberty, of RubyFrost
the crust of Central Park
you are the wings of flags at half-mast
of cultures        torn         apart
you are the long white cloud of pacific rose
the green of Monty’s Surprise
you are the Christmas colours in September streets
a New York state of mind
you are the mantle, the watercolour squares
history moulded in black stone
names in waves of rolling tears
of fallen friends, of frozen fears
one world sleeps in an apple
we are lost in our own city
Deans Ave curls of road cones:
the fire blight for humanity
these New York Times connect our lives
with students striking on streets
you are the yellow taxi exchanging clouds
for chambers of memories
one world sleeps in an apple
you are the core between the sea
synchronised movements of travelling waves
the cocoon unravels and breathes
one world sleeps in an apple
remembering our fallen leaves
we hold our hands between two mosques
in this city that never sleeps