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'Given Words' from Honduras

11 Aug 2022
Celebrating international connections through poetry

Written by

Charles Olsen
May 14, 2023

Run as part of New Zealand's National Poetry Day, Given Words is now in its seventh year and is inspiring children and grown-ups across the country to write poems that include five words chosen especially for the occasion. This year, our director Charles Olsen has been invited, together with Colombian poet Lilián Pallares, to teach poetry with the Our Little Roses Poetry Fellowship in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, so we asked the girls from the Our Little Roses orphanage to choose their favourite words, whch you can see in the video above.

Schools are encouraged to participate in the competition, with a detailed class plan available to teachers to get students thinking creatively about words and the ideas they generate. It also includes an extra activity for students to make their own videos like those of the girls in Honduras.

Previous editions of Given Words have also had an international outlook, with words taken from poems by the Spanish poet Antonio Machado, or last year from the award-winning collaborative poetry film in te reo Māori, 'Noho Mai', which was presented in film festivals around the world in 2020 and 2021. Given Words is based on the Spanish poetry project Palabras Prestadas which Charles Olsen set up in 2011, and he translates the winning poems from Given Words to share with a Spanish audience. Of the current edition he says, ‘The girls have sent me their words and what each word means for them. I love the idea that their words will inspire poets in Aotearoa New Zealand and I will be able to share your poems with the girls when I travel to Honduras!’

This year National Poetry Day is on 26 August which is the deadline for entries to Given Words. Prizes are awarded for the Best Poem and the Best Poem by Under-16s. The winners will receive books courtesy of The Cuba Press.

Given Words 
Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day
Our Little Roses Poetry Fellowship
The Cuba Press
Given Words on Instagram