Sonja Yelich and Bill Manhire - Workshop 28/03/22


Hello, everyone.

Sonja Yelich was born in 1965 in Auckland, New Zealand. Although recognised for her own writing, she is perhaps best known as the mother of Ella Yelich-O'Connor, whose stage name is Lorde.

Bill Manhire was born in 1946 in Invercargill. He founded New Zealand's first creative writing course. He is one of the authors of The Exercise Book, which is used here for additional challenges.

A theme that stands out from the first text is nostalgia. What is something that makes you nostalgic, that makes you remember the past in a positive light.

A theme from the second text is coldness. It is getting colder. Write about the cold.

The structure of the first text is in couplets, or pairs of lines. Some words are also split, even across lines.

The content of the second text matches its structure. It is cold and bare. How can you write in a form that matches your tone?

Six words to attempt to incorporate into your writing from Yelich: shock, life, later, same, string, name.

Six words from Manhire: page, heavy, guess, tale, appear, noise.

If you have a copy of The Exercise Book (Manhire, Price, Duncum & Wilkins), turn to page "#104: Recalling Mr. Woodhead" for an additional challenge.

That's all. I hope you are inspired to write today.

when you meet—october 88

by Sonja Yelich

they a weirdbreed. we got it on kodakgold this one.
there's the shock on our face. right so he's up

the steps & at the door like hansel. you gretel?
we got matching breadcrumbs. i'm on the birth cer

tificate sis so you my family. where you been hi
ding all my life i ask. when we hug i'm quick to

smell him i smell me later to see if it's the same.
i get the feeling we need to be babies again & go

for the rewind button. october 88. same blood.
he tells me all about the string. when you find

your mother it's like you got the end of a bit of
string in your hand. & you know where it came from

here's my name. see. i blow my heart out of


by Bill Manhire

Cold cry from the last page of  the dictionary,
name with a knife in it, and the knife
italic against the throat

till you fall into so heavy a sleep — 
sleep made of asterisks and cattle,
the herd just a black scarf

against snow — you can’t begin to guess
where the old world went. Now there are only two
choices, says the tale, and neither is good.

Hence an axe above each separate entrance
as the hero becomes hardly a voice
and the sad dogs appear on the screen.

Then there is a thin, high scraping.
Then no noise of any sort at all.