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Journalists mark National Poetry Day

Journalists mark National Poetry Day with a reading from Allen Curnow’s once-famous ‘Whim Wham’

Wellington-based online news agency NewsRoom_Plus has chipped into National Poetry Day by recording a reading of two satirical and whimsical newspaper verses from the days of ‘Whim Wham’.

“What better way to celebrate the joy of the written and spoken word – the real essence of poetry – than by recalling the marathon efforts of Allen Curnow to marry the poetic form with every day news events,” says NewsRoom_Plus journalist Stephen Olsen.

“Our team decided we would record two poems from a collection of his newspaper work edited by Auckland professor Terry Strum in 2005 and put them up on Soundcloud at

“As detailed in the foreword to that collection of 200 pieces – simply called Whim Wham’s New Zealand – Curnow’s astonishing output mounted up to more than 2000 verses spanning five decades.

"Apparently the first verse was written as a gently mocking account of an all-night sitting of Parliament, and was only intended as a space-filler when Curnow was working at the Christchurch Press. As noted by Professor Sturm, Curnow’s work under the pseudonym of Whim Wham went on to be a mix of ‘light’ pieces on commonplace topics and ‘serious’ poetic pieces designed to challenge readers.

Olsen said he was struck by how lively and topical the verse remains, and left the last word to Professor Sturm, who sadly passed away in 2009: Terry Sturm – “The personnel might have changed, the spin merchants might go under different names and use different languages of deception … but the issues remain the same”.

NewsRoom_Plus extra link:,%20Allen


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