Dear Blog Readers,
For the moment I am taking my poetry quest to 200 off line. It is still happening but just not on my blog.
Whilst I am offline I am not just working on my poetry quest but many, many things
- Preparation for upcoming panels (especially the Queensland Poetry Festival!)
- A trip to bookshops in Melbourne at the end of the year
- Ideas for more panels on various topics dear to my heart for the public
- Preparation for an exhibition/ mini festival in October
- Poetry books exploring themes of environment, parenting, motherhood, art, music, drawn from ten years of blogging and new material
- Chapter books for 8-10 (Series concept)
- Picture books
- A novel (plotting it at present to get my structure right)
- A memoir
- Connecting with creatives I would like to collaborate with
- Helping develop diasporic Pacific products
- Fostering unity in diversity through the arts
- Tutoring and School Visits
- Continuing to develop my professional skills
I have shared a lot of writing online for over ten years, and now need much more dedicated time to collate, develop and edit much of this into beautiful books and films or digital stories of all kinds.
After a reflection on the weekend of everything I want to still do I realise the need to redirect my efforts and stop longing so much to finish my first novel and get on and do it!
I will still be back to blog from time to time on the progress of any of the above and let you know as each project or creative product launches, but hope you will understand I will be holding a lot more direct creative work back and need to reallocate my time.
I might have a few guests from time to time that I would just love for you to meet, but it will only be when the spirit moves me and is it fits into the various tasks above.
Part of the reason for this changing my direction and time spent blogging is contained in the following recent guest blog , which I invite you to read and comment on:
And to read about what I feel this whole journey on social media has done to enrich my creative life read this blog:
Do feel free to look back through the blogs. And to fellow bloggers stopping by, I will visit you when I can – and have loved connecting with you, especially many poets and creatives in isolated areas.
Thanks as always for your support and all the best for your creative efforts in your life as well,
1.What is your earliest memory of poetry?
I didn’t particularly like poetry when I was younger, but I clearly remember studying ‘The Road not Taken’ by Robert Frost during High School and perhaps this was my first spark to ignite my imagination in trying poetic verse.
2.When and why did you begin to write poetry for children?
I began writing poetic verse as an outlet for my emotions and it all began when I was about 13. I liked Haiku’s and then writing poetic verse that rhymed became a fascination of mine, which has continued for more than twenty years. My original works were for teenagers with angst, or young adults and it wasn’t until my second book, Songs Without Sound II, Behind the Silence did I write for a wider audience.
Still, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I began writing children’s books and playing with rhyme in this genre. This was sparked by the response from some of the top Australian children’s authors who unanimously agreed that they just write for the sake of writing, rather than paying any attention to the book having a moral. My recent publication Roses are Not Red is one of the few books that I have written that ironically does not rhyme.
3. Do you think writing for children is the same or different from writing for adults?
I think fundamentally there are some key elements within each, however the depth of language and complexity is completely different. Knowing your audience is extremely important in all forms of writing and the more you can write fearlessly, with child-like abandon, the better your work will be
4.If you could be any poet in history who would you choose to be and why?
Kahlil Kibran is the greatest poet I have ever read. To write with his insight such meaningful works would be the greatest joy. His views on life and his graceful expression of words is second to none.
5.Give five words to describe your poetry?
Deep, meaningful, emotional, positive, contemplative
6. Share a few lines from one of the poems you have written that you are most proud of?
‘We’re all looking for substance,
yet we treat it with abuse,
we’re all looking for an answer,
but simply finding an excuse’
7.What is your favourite form of poetry?
I have always loved writing and reading rhyming verse. The theoretical side of poetry never particularly interested me, but I have always had a fascination with constructing works that had good flow and rhyme. In that regard I have always loved writing song lyrics (hence the book titles Songs Without Sound I and II). Perhaps I should have learnt to sing or play guitar somewhere along the way, but now I am really enjoying producing creative works in the children’s genre.
8. Have any of your poems been illustrated? If so what did you think of the illustration?
I did actually have a friend of mine, Lawson Royes do some illustrations for my first book, ‘Songs Without Sound’ and he did an amazing job with them. It was great to see his interpretation of the words and I was very lucky for his involvement.
For my recent children’s book, ‘Roses are Not Red’ I worked with another dear friend, Jo Cuskelly, who did an amazing job with illustrations and brought the book to life in helping it get shortlisted for the Speech Pathologists book of the year award in 2017.
Inspiration can come anywhere, though usually when I am calm and I have made some time to just sit and think. In saying this, I have been able to produce whole poems in a flurry of inspiration, in-between appointments or various jobs.
10. What advice do you have for other poets wanting to write for children?
- Be flexible in terms of which genre you want to write in. I was too rigid in just wanting to write song lyrics/poetic verse until I was inspired at a Writers Festival to give children’s books a go.
- Be resilient. You’ve got to stick to it, even after hundreds of rejections from editors, family and friends who think that your writing is nothing special, and any other obstacles that stand in your way.
- Lastly, you can only be resilient and keep going with it if you have a passion for writing. In your heart you must be willing to write for free (and also at a loss), be willing to make time outside of work and other commitments to simply keep your soul satisfied in the hope that you might be able to make a career out of writing (Inshallah, that I may be able to do this one day as well).
Scott Rheuben recently published Roses are Not Red was just shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards 2017
The following brief biography of Scott, was published in the senior news and provides the context for the recent direction in his writing.
“Scott Rheuben, spent his school years at Goonellabah Public and Kadina High. After a few years away working and travelling, Scott resettled in Lismore.
He said he always wanted to be an author, but never thought he would be penning children’s books. Scott wrote poetic verse for nearly 25 years, which resulted in two publications, and then a fantasy adventure e-book. But he had a pivotal moment at the Byron Writers Festival a few years ago when an audience member asked a panel of children’s authors: “Do you write a story to convey a message or moral, or do you just write whatever comes out?”
The panel took no time at all in unanimously replying that they all wrote just whatever they feel like. For some reason this troubled Scott. “I really felt that as a children’s author you have some responsibility for providing a strong moralistic message,” he said. “It seems like an opportunity that should not be wasted.” (Source: Senior News)
You can find out more about Scott on his webpage.
Wishing Scott well for those speech pathology awards!
My family arrived in Boonah last Friday night, and stayed at the tranquil home of my friend Elizabeth who is a local resident and greatly involved in her local community’s efforts for sustainability. After enjoying a beautiful misty sunrise and breakfast, we headed up the next day to the World Environment Day festival which was being hosted by BOSS (Boonah Organisation for a Sustainable Shire). The most striking thing to attract our attention when we first arrived was the Vomitor, made from recycled materials and warning us what will happen if we don’t stop littering!
At tenish the traditional welcome from the Ugurapul people happened, conducted by Douglas James, his wife Denise and others from their community.
This was full of ceremony and quite moving. It included a reenactment of what should have happened when new people arrived on these shores, and a smoking ceremony.
After the traditional acknowledgement I gave a short official welcome speech and shared a poem especially written for the festival and dedicated to its themes. I spoke about how poetry is in everything, the totems that many of the Indigenous people’s of the world have and shared that my family totem from PNG is the Bird of Paradise.
I remembered my youth growing up in Tasmania and working with others to in my community to make sure the Franklin stayed wild river. I read out some statistics on the state of the environment in Australia and read ‘River Song’ from Magic Fish Dreaming. I focused on the power of unity and collective action from everyone in whatever capacity they can to bring about change in the world, and mentioned the story of Jadev Peyang.
My dear children shared three songs, and it is so good to see them continue to build their confidence performing in public!
There were more things happening throughout the day in the main stage area, but I mostly spent my time in the sheltered area on my book stall, selling books and was treated to some lovely chats with locals, visitors and other stall holders.
We encouraged people to contribute to a group poem, with about 15 people stopping to participate in this. You can read FROM LOVE – HERE.
Participants, all ages particularly liked the magnet play to create parts of the poem. Here are a series of photographs on the poem in progress.
I managed to sneak up the top on a break to see the following dancers, due to having my dear family on hand to help me out.
The highlight of the day was making friends with Rebecca Brain (BOSS Vice President), also from PNG. I was so delighted when she took a copy of the book home to read to her children, which I wanted to gift to her, but she insisted she had to pay me something, and paid me the retailers price and presented me with a bilum as well. Quigley the Quoll loved that bilum!
I met some other lovely stall holders, food van people, performers, and non profits as well as the singers of the day stopping by to say hello and offer encouragement to my kids for their music. That was just lovely. There was also a storyteller, or was it bush poet who came and told me a long joke about Salmon Rushdie and the Atlantic ocean, because my book reminded him of it… (due to being about a fish.)
Pictured (above) are the not for profit Days for Girls making a difference. There was a whole range of workshops, films, face painting, and demonstrations going on, but I didn’t have a chance to capture all that as I was chatting with people at the stall, about poetry, totems, environment and more.
Dear Elizabeth dropped by a few times to see how it was all going.
I just loved meeting so many interesting people in Boonah.
A massive, massive thank you to the people of Boonah as well as my friend Norah who said hello. May your festival go from strength to strength.
It was also a lovely surprise for my hubby to see the father of a friend from his childhood, who now lives in Boonah!
For more photographs of the day head to my FLICKR SET
You can find out more about BOSS on their facebook page. HERE
Writing Poetry for Kids
When Saturday, August 26, 2017, 1 – 2pm
Are you thinking of becoming a children’s poet? Are you already a children’s poet looking for a way forward in your journey? What can poetry do for children?
Join poets Sally Murphy, Dr June Perkins and JR Poulter, in-conversation with Dr Virginia Lowe, for this fascinating discussion.
Brisbane Square Library, 266 George Street, Brisbane City
Phone Brisbane Square Library on 07 3403 4166 to reserve your place.
Queensland Poetry Festival & Brisbane Square Library
String bones say
‘don’t bug cobwebs’
revere the cobwebs
inspired by Boonah Magnets
Saturday caterpillars are
Saturday’s children sing
Six caterpillars begin
In the yellow night
time is climbing &
purple bubbles of song
swing sticks about.
swim cobwebs of
blue people &
Saturday’s stones know that
forms in the leaves
falling from the trees.
Old women over June
are running free
red over black stones
time is climbing.
Old women over August sing,
‘be that dirt and mud
that grows these green forest trees.’
Butterflies flutter free
through the dragon grass
old stones that are scattered
form the foundation
of all that is to come.
By Jennifer Hume, Kylie Castle, Jessica Brain, Jackie Towell, Margaret Van Blommestein
Dominique, Christina and Ashleigh, David, Norah and 4 anons
& June Perkins Drafted 15/7/2017
Edited by June Perkins 16/7/2017
CREATING A GROUP POEM FOR WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY FESTIVAL – BOONAH
- Magnets, mini white boards, white board markers, phone cameras, magnets, and an SLR camera.
- Special prompts on poetic form if they wanted to work on them, going with visual poems, acrostics, the line, and haiku.
- Due to it being an environmental festival we were avoiding using paper.
We laid out a table with the equipment, and some instructions and terms for participation, and they could also talk to me.
Participants were encouraged to connect what they had written to the person before them through either.
- Image or Idea
They were drawn from passers by and people querying the book.
We kept what the person had written before on the slr camera, and also on a mini white board if we could.
Participants could chose to have their full name, or first name as authors, and leave emails so we could send them the final poem.
- Participants were all ages, including children who couldn’t really write or read yet.
- There was a large number of concerts, stalls and workshop based activities, as well as a film screening, and a sand pit to compete with and so the group poem struggled although it was introduced.
- We had about 15 participants over the whole day.
- The links between the phrases afterwards didn’t always make fluent sense.
- People who did stop were intrigued by the idea.
- It worked best when they mainly worked with magnets and enjoyed playing.
- Drawing scaffold images like leaves to place words into was helpful.
- The visual shape prompt was looked at a few times.
- A lot more people stopped to watch others doing the activity than to do it themselves.
- People who enjoyed it found other participants.
- People did not read the written down laminated prompts.
- The use of magnets avoided cliches and encouraged people to truly play and invent based on the magnet sets that I had.
When working with the words afterwards, rather than literally chaining them together with little editing I took the strongest lines and kept them intact and then worked with the other phrases as if they were magnet boards.
So the words were remixed and the stanzas were linked in a way that would make a poem that made sense, and less random. Attractive phrases were repeated.
The resulting poem is above. Some lines were discarded for the first poetry mix above as they didn’t seem to fit well with the others.
Another mix may be done to include those if it is possible.
- The magnet play aspect was great!
- It might help to have a set full on workshop time, instructional talk, within the program to encourage people to participate in the group poetry followed by them creating their piece.
- Might also help to have a poetry reading time and space next to the group poem creating space prior to a creating time.
- Have the walk in create a group poem space set up in a more inviting way and be placed in a different spot within the venue that people are more likely to stop and dwell in.
- Not be selling books at the same time.
- Have more poetry helpers on board.
- Think about using a large chalk board and some large white boards, or being able to chalk art people can write poems into on the ground (working with a chalk artist)
- Have other participants who are keen to work on the editing process afterwards.
- Collect more magnets! Or make laminated plastic word pools with key themes of the festival and divided into word groupings in trays people can draw upon.
- Work with Junk orchestra or others to use a beat to create some of the words of the poems.
- Ask the Junk orchestra guy to gather young people to come participate in creating the group poem/art work as he was pretty persuasive.
- It was fun sharing some stories about group poems, like how haiku parties can be held as well as talking about shape poems.
- Have a laptop set up so people can view a photograph of what was written previously going back a few screens or have people work on post cards and pin the postcards up progressively (ie use paper); but also have people edit and shift postcards around (perhaps the coordinating artist/writer).
I would love to try this idea again, and using the experiences of Boonah, refine it until it is greater or as close to universal participation.
I’d like to especially think about the physical layout and how to make it more inviting, and talk to some artists about that, and invite the help of chalk artists and musicians to make it a more multidimensional creative space.
If you have ever worked on creating group poems within a festival space, please respond to this blog! We’d love your feedback!
If you helped create this poem, do send us your feedback as well.
Handy tips for young and new poets!
Handy Tip 1 for Poetry: Take photographs of things that inspire you and keep a photo journal, either physical or digital.
If you can tag (label) the photograph so that is easy to search back through your archives.
Photograph things that make you think of a story, laugh, maybe even cry, or are mysterious.
Write down some ideas when you first take it, and then write down some a few weeks or months after you have taken it.
Taking the photographs allows you to collect a lot of visual detail and study this in depth later on.
These images will be useful later for building similes and metaphors. (More on that next time)
This is the kind of thing June likes to do in more detail in workshops.