Words in a Storyteller’s World

June 11, 2024 at 11:43 AM

Writing makes you strong. The strokes and lines that form the characters we call letters, precisely woven together, have the ability to persuade, encourage, transport, and inform. Every day in our Western reality, carefully crafted phrases catch our eyes on billboards, or in news articles. Sometimes to escape, we indulge in world-building painted across our mindscape by a creative fictional author. Yet, despite their importance, creating a lucrative career out of harnessing words is a space few master.

There has been a tangible uplift in interest at the College Writer’s Club in the last few years. To encourage and inspire our young writers, two individuals with an affinity for words came to share their work and stories. Author Gracie Kim, best known for the ‘Gifted Clans’ trilogy, and Māori poet Apirana Taylor, brought fresh energy to our students. Despite their different journeys, both have landed in a space that allows them to write for a living, sparking inspiring and meaningful conversations in our students.

On 6 May, Gracie visited our Writer’s Club and several Middle School classes to share her story. Refreshingly, the most common word she used was ‘fail!’ as she delved into her numerous jobs prior to becoming a published author. From being a diplomat in the NZ embassy in Beijing, to her obsession with side projects, including a short-lived YouTube career as a cooking class host; she tried many things that did not work to her strengths. It was an emergency eye surgery that shook her out of a slumber, and the starvation of stories during her recovery illuminated the value she placed on storytelling. And so began her career to tell her own stories.

Later in the month, Apirana conducted sessions with Senior and Scholarship English students from Years 11, 12, and 13. He shared his story of returning to his first dream: to be a writer ‘just like dad.’ Although professional rugby captured his attention during his school years, it was not until university that he remembered his childhood dream to follow in his father's footsteps. He concluded by performing some of his poetry embodying the ‘joy of words’ he had described earlier, satisfied that the words were just right.

In 2023, the College became the only New Zealand institution to join the National English Honours Society for Secondary Schools. The NEHS has added a further layer, primarily for our Seniors, of writing essays and investigations that explore literature. Equipped with fresh ideas and encouragement from those in the industry, our Writer’s Club members and students who are developing writing in their portfolios and journals have an edge as they start crafting stories, reports, persuasions, and essays for assessment and pleasure. We plan to continue hearing from New Zealand creative voices as part of our English curriculum as we encourage our students to harness the potency and power of words.


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