Young Writer of the Month: Samantha Jory-Smart

It is our great pleasure to feature Samantha Jory-Smart as our first young writer of the month. Samantha started with The School for Young Writers when she was in Year 9. She is now in Year 12.
Recently Samantha had the honour of writing the first rain poem ever “published” in New Zealand. This can be found on the footpath of Mollett Street, Christchurch on any rainy day, or take a water bottle with you to reveal Samantha’s words.
Her work has also been published on paper in the New Zealand Poetry Society’s anthologies, ReDraft ( 2014-2017), Write On ( 2014-2017), and in the All Right Write Now- Words of Canterbury Kids chapbook. One of her lines appeared in posters across Christchurch as part of the All Right Campaign. Online publications include fingers comma toes and Hooked On NZ Books.
Samantha has received a number of awards for her writing including Highly Commended and Commended in the New Zealand Poetry Society’s competitions, third place in the Peter Smart Poetry competition and she received the Burnside High School Suzanne Hay Cup for Creative English.
The School for Young Writers recently interviewed Samantha. Two of her poems are featured at the bottom of this page.
SFYW: When and how did you first discover your inner poet?
Samantha: When I was quite young, I always enjoyed writing a mix of prose and poetry. My mum tells me that I wrote a poem about a rainbow in my first year of school! However, the time that I really understood poetry was for me was during Year Nine. I had been trying numerous writing forms in my first year at the School For Young Writers, yet seemed to gravitate more and more often to expressing my ideas in poetry. One day it just clicked. I realised that poetry was the creative outlet for me.
SFYW: What keeps you writing poetry?
Samantha: Poetry is a way for me to record and develop all the things I notice in the world. It is a way for me to be creative and explore ideas and thoughts that appeal to me. I enjoy taking the time to observe and analyse the world and society, while using these observations to create something special and important. Poetry is also a lovely tool to use to get things off your chest if they are worrying or bothering you; it doesn’t matter how silly they may seem. You might never use that poem again, but it still helped you process things that were troubling you. Ultimately, I think there is a power that poetry has in conveying complex and powerful ideas in a short amount of words. I aspire to write thoughtful, beautiful and profound poems like some of the poetry greats have in the past.
SFYW: Do you have a favourite poet/ poem by another poet?
Samantha: I appreciate different aspects of poetry that are exhibited in different styles and poets. Anis Mojgani and Sarah Kay are brilliant spoken word poets that I admire due to how they perform their poetry, and give it life beyond the page. Poets that have played with the conventional poetry rules also appeal to me, such as e.e. cummings because he subverted the expectations of grammar and structure of a poem. I’ve been reading some poems by Hone Tuwhare recently, and I really appreciate his imagery and poetry style. Other poets that I also enjoy are Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, and T.S. Eliot. I would say currently my favourite poem is ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ by T.S. Eliot, because of the complexity, delicious imagery, and power that is evoked.
SFYW: How do your poems evolve? ( what is a typical process for your writing)
Samantha: I usually begin a poem with an image or a series of images that I have noticed in the world around me or conjured up while completing other tasks (I find it really handy to write these down on a notepad on my phone, or a physical notebook). Connecting these images and ideas together, as well as adding more detail and development to them, makes up the first stage of my poetry. Sometimes I leave these bare-boned and unfinished to return to later, and come back to them with a fresh mind. When I come back to these poems, I try to add more depth and clarity to the words, making my second draft. After this comes the editing stage where I cut, add and re-arrange all my ideas so that they come through in the best way. This is probably the longest stage, and I actively try to get feedback from my friends, tutors at the School For Young Writers, my mum and my other family mentors. When I’m happy with every word and that the ideas have been expressed in the way I want them, the poem is finished! Of course, they can be edited and redrafted later on if I feel like it; poems can always be added to and adjusted.
SFYW: Anything else?
Samantha: The School for Young Writers has been fundamental to my development as a poet. The tutors there, such as Heather, Gail and James, have taught me so much about how to edit a poem, how to write a poem, and have given me endless inspiration. The opportunities I have been fortunate enough to have were available to me because of my time at The School for Young Writers. I have developed some marvellous friends there too. My family, and my mum have also helped me immensely, and I am extremely grateful to them too.
SFYW: Thanks Samantha. We admire your poetry so much and love having you as part of the school!


The Moment-Weaver by Samantha Jory-Smart

 I braided remnants of the sea

dribbling out from swollen waves

into a fishtail


and wove my garden

into a trail of roses and weeds


I crocheted my thoughts together

after combing frayed edges straight


and I plaited a bowl of

gossamer breaths


into a bracelet

for the Earth.


Now my fingers are limp.

They fumble with the exhaustion

only bones know


so I’ll leave the trees

to knit the horizon back together



Time Out by Samantha Jory Smart

Inside a cloud is where I am

above the blanket of the sea

and the gridlines of cities that always sprawl

further and further away.


I think of canary rays

that filter through this feathery cloud

and how they look

to the me on the ground.


Outside the cloud,

the sky is buttermilk.


Outside the cloud,

we wake to scribbling memories.


Outside the cloud,

the day goes on.


No wonder I prefer it here.


© Samantha Jory-Smart and The School for Young Writers, 2017. The authors’ moral rights have been expressed.

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