Poet Of The Week — In The Deep End With Nicola Easthope

This week’s poet is our well-known local writer, Nicola Easthope, says Poetry Editor Gill Ward:

‘Nicola is an English and Psychology teacher who encourages her students to write creatively and to read and enjoy all forms of literature.

‘A supporter over the years of Poets to the People in Kapiti, Nicola often shared her own poems. 

‘She is currently taking a break to study for a Master of Creative Writing through Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa – Massey University.

Her two collections of poetry are: leaving my arms free to fly around you (Steele Roberts, 2011) and Working the tang (The Cuba Press, 2018).

This week’s poem was inspired by the wonderful teachers at Kāpiti Learn To Swim some years ago, when her daughter was one of their pupils. 

Keen young swimmers at a South Island school

I have chosen it because it reminded me of my first teaching days. If your primary school had a pool you were expected to give your whole class swimming lessons in February. I

have no remembrance of who taught us at Teachers’ College how to teach swimming but I do remember the frantic activity of trying to keep each child in your view and call them loudly by their name when you wanted to praise them, teach them or save them from drowning.

So, thank you, Nicola, for letting me choose this poem and giving me memories that made me laugh! I hope you enjoy the picture of the chaotic responsibility of a desperate teacher making sure her splashing, kicking class was safe.

Swimming lesson

Off you go, Memphis.

Turn around, Summer.

Stay by the rail, Camille.

Little little little little.

Kicks faster kicks kicking.

Kicking! Kicking! Kicking!

Good boy, Memphis.

And chin up! Chin up!

Up up up right.

Are you ready? One

more, are you ready?

Head back nose up      go.

Savannah, no! What?

Are ya’a submarine?

Try that again, flutter.

Kicks flutter    flutter flutter!

That’s it     Good Girl.  Long

arms and stretch



Put away your chicken wings,

Callisto. Off you go!

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