23 Nov 2023

Embarking on a Poetic Journey through Aotearoa

On a whim, I enrolled in a poetry class earlier this year. Something deep inside was ready to emerge so, in retrospect, it wasn’t really a whim. For years I thought I would love to write poems, then an opportunity presented itself.

I enrolled in a six-week online poetry master class with Mark Tredinnick, an internationally recognised poet, and a gifted teacher. You might wonder why a beginner would enrol in a poetry master class. It was a big stretch, yet I gained so much. 

To my surprise I found the class was full of academics, poetry teachers and accomplished poets. Mark welcomes all comers. Each week we explored three or four different poetic forms and produced poems to recite to one another. Mark shared the gifts of poetry and readings each week.

Being a newcomer allowed me to ask plenty of naïve questions. No one said ‘that is absolute rubbish!’ Quite the reverse. They were all very encouraging of my contribution.  

Through the course I gained more appreciation of how poetry enriches our lives on so many levels, and it gave me the inspiration and impetus to continue my poetry journey. 

When the course ended, I wondered ‘where to next?’

Another leap of imagination and I came up with the idea to write a book of poems to illustrate Steve’s beautiful photography. Steve liked the idea and Mark agreed to mentor me through the process.

How many poems does a book make? Fifty poems seemed like a good target to aim for. 

How many poems to write each week? Initially Mark suggested a poem a fortnight would be a reasonable pace. In my enthusiasm, I decided to write two draft poems each week towards the poetry collection.

To come up with ideas inspired by Steve’s stunning New Zealand nature and landscape photography was not difficult. Poetic themes have emerged - connections to nature, the elements, endings and beginnings, upheaval and recovery in our incredible world.    

During the poetry writing process, I have grown as a person and my poems have deepened. On this journey, I have discovered some wonderful poets and philosophers.

After six months of dedicated effort, a collection of poems has emerged, each one matched with one of Steve's photos. Mark has agreed to edit the manuscript. Will these poems make the cut for publication? Time will tell.

As this is my second self-published book, we know there are many more hoops to jump through before the book’s publication. 

We hope to release A Poetic Journey through Aotearoa – Unforgettable Images of New Zealand and the Pacific by Mary Somervell and Steven Vaughan on Amazon by April 2024. 

Read more about A Poetic Journey book.

Cable Bay image by Steven Vaughan


Mary Somervell

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