Monday, September 11, 2017


We are in for a treat this week, my friends, as we fly across the world to Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, to visit our new friend, Marja. Marja writes at A DUTCH CORNER IN NEW ZEALANDwhere she shares the most beautiful photos of the stunning landscape in which she lives, her "sanctuary of nature." On her blog, Marja states, "I am blessed to live in paradise where there are lots of sacred places where I feel safe, relaxed, where I take in beauty, energy, where I feel at home." For the minutes in which we are visiting, through her words and beautiful photographs, we will be blessed to enjoy it, too. 

Sherry: Marja, we are so happy to meet you, so pleased you found your way to Poets United. As you are new to Poets United, would you give us a snapshot of the poet at home? 

Marja: I am a computer trainer and I also volunteer teaching children in an IT kids Club once a week. I live with my husband, a son and a cat in Christchurch, New Zealand. My daughter lives in Wellington. She is an amazing poet but stopped writing.

Sherry: She will likely come back to it. With writers, in times when we are not writing, the words wait patiently for us to return. And how I adore your gorgeous piano! How wonderful to be able to play out of doors! 

Marja: Unfortunately it is not my piano. I hardly have any photos of me as I am usually behind the camera. We took a blogging friend who visited us to Akaroa, to the Giant House. She made a photo of me. All the art is made by Josie Martin, an exceptional artist.  There is a bit more about it on my blog here. Also I don't play the piano. I am just being silly sometimes :).

Sherry: It looks a wonderful spot to visit! Given the name of your blog, I assume there may be a story of moving from Holland to New Zealand? If so, when did you make the move and would you like to tell us about this major life change?

Castle Wijchen

Marja: My husband is a Dutch kiwi born in Christchurch. His family moved back to Holland but he didn’t like it. One thing he didn’t like is that it rained too much. When I met him, I tried umbrellas, rain coats, anything, to no avail 😉 

Wijchen is my home town. I grew up close to the Castle Wijchen and played in its gardens. And I got married in the castle.

Sherry: How wonderful to be married in a castle! Yay!


Marja: Nijmegan is a city close to us. We have lots of history. This is a weigh house built in 1612. It was a public building within which goods were weighed.

Sherry: How very grand the architecture is! History in every brick and line of the buildings. 

Sumner, Christchurch

Marja: We left for Christchurch when the children were still small. My initial thought when I lived in Christchurch was “aaargh, what have I done,” as we didn’t know many people and everything was so different. I experienced some sort of identity crisis. Now I wouldn’t change Christchurch for anything. I absolutely love it, even though it gives me the shakes sometimes.

Sherry: Oh, my goodness, Christchurch is beautiful. I have always heard that New Zealand is much like my home province of British Columbia, in Canada. I do see similarities. You live in a stunningly beautiful country. Why does it "give you the shakes?" Smiles.

Marja: On September 4th, 2010, there was a 7.1 earthquake in Christchurch. After many aftershocks, we had a second major one on February 22, 2011. In that one, 185 people died, and the whole inner city got destroyed. It was scary, as both our children went to school in the city center. For three hours we didn't hear any sign of them, as the cellphone system was overloaded. Finally I got through to one of them.

Arthur's Pass, New Zealand

Sherry: Oh my goodness, that must have been terrifying. I am glad you all made it through safely. It must have been a very hard time for the town. I watched some footage online, and the devastation was extreme.

Where did you grow up, Marja? Is there anything from childhood that, looking back, you think led you to becoming a poet?

Marja: I grew up in the South-East of the Netherlands. No, never thought I would write poetry, but at school I found out I could write. I worked hard in intermediate, as I wanted to become a teacher. The requirement was to have a score of 7 average to enter the right school. My average was 8 but my English was so bad that I couldn’t pursue my dream. 

I didn’t enjoy the school I had to go to next so my marks dropped significantly. But towering among the low marks was a 9.5 for Dutch. We had to write a story for the exam.  My parents showed it to my uncle who was a teacher and he didn’t believe I wrote it. He was sure I had read it somewhere. A few years later, a teacher at school said the same, so there must have been a writer inside me. Logically I went for an office career.

Arthur's Pass

Sherry:  We are happy you kept on with your writing! And you definitely have mastered English! What do you love about poetry, Marja?

Marja: I want to quote the beautiful words from the movie, the Dead Poet society, and second it. “We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”     N.H. Kleinbaum

Sherry: I could not agree more!

Marja: I especially love inspirational and spiritual poetry. Probably I needed a lot of inspiration in my life, as it has been a bit of a roller coaster.

My favourite poet is Marie Oliver. Furthermore, I love David Whyte, Rainer Maria Rilke, Victoria Erickson, Rabindranath Tagore, Rumi, and many more.

Sherry: Lovely choices! When did you first begin writing, Marja?

Marja: I setup a blog in 2007 to show my family about my life in New Zealand. My blog was a bit of an island to start with. Shortly after, Melissa or Missy from Oklahoma came peddling towards my island and we became friends. She was a poet and pointed me towards … Writers Island. Me, the one who has dysnomia, which is like (sing it with me) "Words don't come easy, to me" started to write poetry. 

I discovered that paper is patient. I write occasionally as it competes with work and many other things. When I won’t be on Poets United during the NZ summer, I will be in the hills somewhere, making photos.

Sherry: And your photos are spectacular! I look forward to those posts! Would you like to share three of your poems with us, and tell us a bit about each?

Marja: I had two vivid dreams in which I danced. I have a passion for dancing, love seeing it, and can’t sit still when I hear music. I have dyspraxia, an inability to plan coordinated movement, so I was an example at ballet class of how not to move. I did develop some good moves which I perform when cleaning the house. The first two poems represent my dreams. The last poem speaks for itself.

Indulgence in dance

Lifted into wonder of a mystical night
wakened by crying violins
Moonlight illuminates untouchable feet
of a swirling beauty who calls the one
 with a bitter song so sweet
Flaming black eyes enter the magic
 fuelled by thundering clapping
Awakening the spirit of romance
 of two silhouettes who understand
the language of a Gypsy dance

During the embrace of two souls
 the rhythm and the beat slows down
the stillness of the night returns
but in the heart of the dancers
an eternal fire burns
As the shimmering veil of dawn rises
Bouncing hoofs announce a departure
a cloud of dust cloaks the horse and man 

Dying flames                         

She shivers, waking up silence                    
staring into dancing flames,                         
hypnotising her, taking her                            
to a place where she twirls                              
with grace for                                                    
two piercing eyes                                              
clouding a crowd                                              

her arms                                                            
unfolding petals                                                
A Port de Bras                                                    
in a Pas de Deux      
Her muscles stretched                                      
like strings of a guitar                                      
vibrated by admiration                                      
a standing ovation                                            
a note                                                                  
"for my queen of night"                                    
in elegant strokes                                              
between thorns of roses                                  
deep red, evokes                                              
a dream                                                              

his insistent absence
cools her passion
She shivers, waking up silence  
staring into dying flames  
Sherry: Thank you for these, Marja. I can envision her, dancing and twirling. These are both very lovely.                               
On poetry

My life, a drop in the ocean
My words, countless pebbles on the beach
Occasionally I experience
The depth and beauty of the ocean
Occasionally I add to it
shedding tears of sadness
These profound feelings can’t
just be put into words
 be added to the shallow pebbles
Each stone must be carefully carved
Each stone must be gently polished
Each stone must be lined up and combined;
to create the art of evoking feelings
to create poetry
and when you share these pebbles
with the ocean and they touch one drop
the universe will smile
with a stunning red sunset

Sherry: A beautiful description of crafting a poem, and being rewarded with a sunset upon its completion. 

I note, on your blog's Kids Corner, that you write poems and stories for children too. How long have you been writing for children?

Marja: That’s another dormant dream. I absolutely love children and poetry. The poems on my blog are the only ones I wrote. I would also like to write stories for children. I am still alive and kicking, so watch that space.

Sherry: Yes, indeed. I know those stories are waiting to be written! You are also interested in art, as I see on your blog. And your photography is wonderful, as we can see. And there are many more stunning photographs on your blog, listed under Shutterstock Photos.  I urge our members to check them out. 

From the look of your photos, it seems you have traveled considerably. Where is your favourite place on the planet that you have visited or lived in?


Marja: You can’t go wrong taking photos in New Zealand as it is breathtaking. I visited Santorini in Greece last time when I went to Holland, as it was on my bucket list. That was stunning. 

Because Holland is my home country it is easy to go places from there. I also adore the Pacific Islands.  I went to Tonga and Vanuatu. The Tongans are such charming people. They always smile and greet you with “Malo e lelei”. Rightfully they call Tonga “the friendly islands” We asked a bus driver were the harbour was and he said to his clients outside the bus: “wait, I am back in 4 minutes, have to bring some Palagi (white people) to the harbour.” 


Sherry: How lovely!  Tonga sounds especially wonderful. Is there a place you have yet to see on your Bucket List?

Marja: Another Pacific Island named Rarotonga is on my list. I still want to go to Budapest one day, and I have a blogging friend in Sydney I would like to visit.

Sherry: I do hope you get there. Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United? 

Marja: I am honoured to be part of a wonderful community with so many talented writers. It is so much fun to be able to share poetry and I enjoy reading all the amazing poems.

Sherry: We are very happy you made your way to us, Marja. Thank you for this wonderful visit today, and for the stunning scenery! 

Wasn't this a lovely visit, my friends? Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


  1. So, nice ad lovely to know you Marja an a great interview Sherry!!

  2. Always so interesting to meet others here at Poets United. Marja's New Zealand is indeed a beautiful place, and I enjoyed hearing about her life. As always, Sherry, you ask all the right questions to help us learn to know one another! Thank you both.

    1. Thanks indybev New Zealand is great I go very soon to the West Coast Wish I could take you all to show it

    2. Maybe some more wonderful photos for the Pantry? Smiles.

    3. I will take lots of photos so will sure send some :)

  3. Thank you so much Sherry for all your hard work. You are amazing as,you did a great job I feel very special now. Blush

    1. I am glad! It was truly my pleasure, Marja. Thank you for being willing.

  4. Thanks to you both. What a great start to my day to read this interview. Marja, you sound like a very positive person. I think it would be scary to live in Christchurch, and wonder that you say you feel so safe in NZ. But I understand the whole country is very beautiful (I have a brother who lives in Auckland). I would like to visit some day. It was so interesting to read about your background in Holland too, and see all the photos from both countries. And I particularly love the poem about Poetry!

    1. Thanks Rosemary Safe is indeed a big word First of all we were very lucky No injuries and the damage was not as big in our area. I look at it this way though: We have no say in it, anything can happen everywhere. One couple moved from Christchurch to another place and in the new place they lost their house through a tornado. You must come to Auckland Above it is the Bay of islands for example. It is gorgeous. If you travel around come let me know.

    2. We are seeing this increasingly in the news, as severe weather events occur all over. I am poised on a fault line, in a tsunami zone, lol. One never knows.

  5. What a fascinating interview. You have lived such an interesting life, Marja. I enjoyed the poems featured here and especially connected with 'On poetry'. And those photographs: breathtaking. What a talented lady! Great job on this, Poets.

    1. Thanks Wendy I am just doing a course to learn all the settings on my camera as I just use the automatic all the time lol

  6. Thank you Marja and Sherry. This was a real delight.

  7. You are most welcome, friends. It is always a pleasure.

  8. Marja and Sherry, what a wonderful article. I really enjoyed learning more about your journey, Marja. Your photos definitely have been a gift to Poets United as well. I like your poem "On Poetry" so very much. I like to think of all of us sharing pebbles here. I am glad you started a blog in 2007 and like how it evolved. I hope you will continue writing poetry & sharing with us. I hope you will also fulfill your dream of writing stories for children. Sometimes those 'dormant dreams' take a while to take hold, but do keep that dream alive! Thank you again, Sherry and Marja, for a very enjoyable visit!

    1. Thanks Mary I think pretty pebbles also cheer up the world. I always collect them on the beach :) I have stopped a few times blogging but always came back to it as the online community is so nice. Thanks for the encouragement I will one day fulfill this dream.

  9. P.S. Marja - you live in a beautiful country!! Smiles.

    1. Yes one of my biggest blessings. I will send you from time to time some photos if you like

  10. Marja, sorry I'm late! I enjoyed reading this interview very much, especially because of your sense of humor(the piano and trying all the rain gear on your husband and reducing earthquakes to having gotten the shakes). Other tones come in your poetry--the impressionism and haunted life of dream and the wonder of creation. I'm so happy that you've started posting with us and bringing pictures, too! (Thanks again, Sherry, for a lively feature.)

  11. No worries and thanks a lot for your nice comment. I enjoy posting and reading here. Will be off for a week as we go away but will return for sure.

  12. This is a fascinating read, Marja and Sherry. Love the poems you've shared with us: Each stone must be carefully carved / Each stone must be gently polished / Each stone must be lined up and combined;"...I also believe this. And the photos are so incredibly beautiful. It's really lovely to get to know you better Marja.

    1. Thanks so much Sumana. Wish you all the best

  13. Good to know more about you Marja..NZ definitely on my bucket list! Meanwhile, lets keep tossing those pebbles into the ocean!

    1. Thanks and come for a coffee if you are in Christchurch

  14. Oh what a delight Sherry meeting Marja. I have always wanted to visit NZ and even more now. Welcome Marja! I so enjoyed learning more about you and your life stories....and especially your poetry. I can't wait to read more.

    1. Thanks so much Donna and yes you won't regret visiting NZ

  15. Thank you Marja and Sherry, I enjoyed reading this interview and learning a little more about New Zealand and of course Marja's life and poetry.

  16. So good to have you in our community Marja - thanks for sharing

  17. Sherry you never fail to top your last post, and this is not expection!!! So glad you put a spotlight on Marja. Love her poems. I'm going to forward her poems to a friend who is a dancer.

    1. Thanks and how exciting to have a dancer friend. Great than you can go to your friends performances

  18. What an utterly delightful and charming interview, Marja!
    New Zealand is probably one of the most photogenic countries on earth. I saw some stunning locations in Lord of the Rings Triology. (if I remember correctly). So, it's def on my bucket list:)) Thanks for sharing...
    Sherry!! Thank you for this wonderful interview, delving into the dynamic mind of "our poet friend Marja!" I thoroughly enjoyed...:))

    1. Thanks Panchali I agree I have been to some filming locations of the Lord of the Rings Let me know if you come to NZ

  19. As usual, an excellent interview Sherry interesting interviewee. Lovely photos, great travels and good sense of humor. I enjoyed reading this so very much.

  20. I am so happy you all enjoyed hearing more about Marja. I knew you would. Enjoy your travels, Marja. Travel safely. We look forward to more photos!

    1. Thanks Sherry Work today till 12.00 and than packing for a 4 day trip

  21. Hello Marja! So nice to meet you here! What a great interview as well Sherry!

  22. When you came onto the scene Marja, Hank began to be astounded with such beautiful pics emanating from you.NZ is a paradise no doubt about it. Hank was there for a few days before and may need to make a return visit for a longer duration perhaps.


    1. Thanks Hank so you have been to NZ North or South Island? Let me know when you come again

  23. So nice to meet Maria. I so much enjoyed the poems. They are clearly from her heart. Thanks so much Sherry for this delightful visit.

  24. Fabulous interviewee, Marja! Your photos are just spectacular. Love that piano! How wonderful to live in a place you appreciate. Enjoy your poems very much, and am glad to see you here! Thanks, Sherry.

  25. Happy to know you Marja! Beautiful pictures..!!


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