When Neema Singh came in and talked to us about writing, we knew, the moment she started speaking, that the lesson would be enriching.
We learned a number of things, and the lesson has really stuck with our class. One of the first things she introduced us to was a beautiful poem of her own creation, The Proper Way to Make Tea.
The poem followed the story of a young Neema Singh travelling to her grandmother's house, where the older woman brewed homemade tea in a pot on the stove.
It was interesting to hear her talk about her grandmother in a way that melted our hearts. She very simply taught us how her grandmother made cups of tea, yet she made it incredibly poetic and full of love.
Neema talked to us about the action point of the poem and had us indicate what it was. She also asked us inferencing questions - “Who was the old woman to the main character?”, for instance. The obvious answer was grandmother, but Neema wrote her poem in such a well-constructed manner that any reader could have taken it a different way. This was clever because that way it made the question more personal to the reader. They could have read it as any loved, special older woman in their lives.
The concept of the book A Clear Dawn is very interesting. The anthology of new stories and poems by emerging Asian authors living in Aotearoa is full of beautiful writing that really made us think. It resonated with our class because we have a lot of students from different backgrounds.
Following the sharing of her poem and other poems in the anthology, Neema ran a workshop on poetic writing. We sat at our tables and wrote about the people we loved. The experience was truly heart-warming.
We really enjoyed the experience of being taught how to write poems in a new and interesting way. We were very lucky to have the opportunity to work with Neema Singh.
By Livia Adams, Paige Layton and May Fudakowska
An Ode, by Livia Adams
grey eyes flecked with green
a light complexion dotted by light brown flecks
of pure beauty
hair like the golden rays of
spilling down her back in
comfort in the way she smiles
comfort in her warm embrace
comfort in her eyes
comfort, simply, in her
she, and she alone,
pure beauty, and pure beauty alone
none can hold a candle
to my one and only love
An Ode, by Miranda Yuan
Her steps were graceful - light and dainty
as if a sprightly dance.
Her head of golden hair flared out behind her
as if gossamer wings.
Titania my love;
For I am a donkey-headed servant,
and you are the fey queen who captured my heart.
An Ode, by Paige Layton
The shine of the mirror
Gleamed over my features
My pale skin lightly dotted
With brown sugar flecks
My multi colored eyes
Glinting flashes of the most enriching hues
Blue, green, grey and a hint of brown
The Foundation’s project officer (Education) Dara Choo says New Zealand students can benefit a lot from learning about Asia from various sources and various media.
“The expansive, limitless nature of learning allows for varied and relevant ways to bring Asia-related learning into classrooms," she says.
“It’s great that through a poetry workshop, Neema brings an awareness of the Asian culture to students in a way that is intimate, subtle, yet familiar; as though being invited to Neema’s grandmother's house and visualising the older woman brewing homemade tea.”