Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins

Lovely to hear of these suggested uses for the book! And to have more people interested in poetry!

Educate.Empower.

I’m writing this story in a bottle lost at sea…..

Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins is a collection of poems for children that ignite imagination, incite dreaming and explore the great land and wildlife of Australia.


Poetry is not something I read a lot of – but after reading Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins I believe it is something I should do more often.

Not only did I enjoy the diverse range of poems included in this book but the children I read it to lapped it up.

My son asked me to read the poem about the Cassowary several times over along with Pond Pests and Magic Fish Dreaming. We loved the rhyme in some poems, the storytelling within others and the speech between families.

Each poem told a different story and really ignited conversations about fairy teeth, why a Cassowary wasn’t at his home and the…

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Bird of the Heart and Illumine Exhibition

(c) June Perkins, Words and Image

I am busy preparing for the  ‘Illumine Exhibition  with Ruha, Minaira and Temily.  Just 4 weekends to go!

I’m not absolutely decided on which of my pieces are going in, but I enjoy the process of creating things and then working out how to present them.

I have been searching for the best specials and reasonable quality for printing and mounting, so that things attract the viewer but are not super expensive.

We are exhibiting at Magda Community Artz, which is not often used as an exhibition space, but is more regularly a performance space.  To adapt the space we will be using easels as well as the walls, and finding safe places to hang things from, and may even make use of some of the outdoor space. This is making me think carefully about how to print and mount the photographs and what kind of materials to print them on.  You can print on canvas, metal, fabric (cotton, silk), wood board, different kinds of paper and more.  Each of these has a different quality.

I have been on big searches in pinterest to look for inspiration.  One day I might even write a blog on it!

Another thing I have been looking at is how to present the poems.  Will it be on posters with the images like the photograph on this post, or will they be simply written under the photograph on foam core?  I might also read the poem under the image it goes with?

We’re having some performances of dance, music and poetry on opening night and charging a small door fee to help us cover the costs of the exhibition. If you are in Brisbane and able to attend you can book for our special opening night HERE

 

 

 

Writing Poetry for Children Panel – Queensland Poetry Festival

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A panel exploring Writing Poetry for Kids, hosted by the Brisbane Square Librarywas held at the Queensland Poetry Festival 2017, Saturday August 26th. It was encouraging to see the theatrette full, and a mixture of backgrounds: parents, local writing for children community members, local writers and poets, and public in attendance, as well as a few children. The library did a beautiful job hosting and making sure the equipment was all sound checked and ready to go. Thanks to the Queensland Poetry Festival for including our panel in the festival.

The panel explored the idea that children are the future of keeping the art of poetry alive. If they love it, then when they grow up their children will also love it.  So how then do we foster and keep poetry vibrant, inclusive, and add it onto everyone’s would like to try or must do, and must buy list, especially children, grandparents, parents, families and schools?  Dr Virginia Lowe posed this and other interesting questions to the panel.

Dr Lowe expressed her love of poetry and how much children from a young age can gain from it.  Her detailed PhD study looked at her own children’s interaction with poetry and metaphorical language beginning with nursery rhymes from birth right up until they were just leaving their teen years.  ‘They can understand much more than we give them credit for.  They benefit so much for the metre and beat of poetry and the way it uses language and encourages metaphorical thinking and abstract thought.’

June Perkins, Sally Murphy, Virginia Lowe

Dr Sally Murphy commented that in nearly all bookshops there is no poetry for children’s section.  She makes a point of checking this whenever she is near a bookshop and did so in Brisbane and found it to be typical.  The shop she went into did have picture books that rhyme (which are enjoyable but this limits what people think of as poetry books for children).  The emphasis  with most ‘poetry books’ for children is heavily on rhyme. Why is this?  Why is poetry not considered saleable and marketable for children in its own right despite the fact it is widely studied in schools and potentially could be popular for this reason? Poetry for children is not seen as something for trade publishing, and is only a small part of educational publishing.

June mentioned the brilliant work of Riverbend books in supporting poetry for all ages and that they had been the first to stock Magic Fish Dreaming.

The challenge is that when children and young people have to pull poetry apart, especially when they are in high school (unless they have teachers that love poetry!), their love of it can potentially diminish unless something in their lives draws them to it again and they discover it anew.

The panel went on to outline where their own love of poetry came from – such as through a parent or grandparent who loved language, and exposure to poetry for children such as AA Milne or Dr Seuss and the poetic language of Shakespeare, musicals and popular songwriters their parents loved.  Their love of it deepened through writing it, and sometimes through realising the healing and transformative powers of poetry in their own lives.  Dr June Perkins had highly encouraging teachers who sent her along to poetry festivals and encouraged her writing and recital of her work.

Each of the panelists found publishing their poetry encouraged them to continue to write it, and in Sally’s case she has written and been awarded for her verse novels.

Pearl cover

June after studying the World War One poets wrote a peace poem and was thrilled to then have it published in the local paper. She also credited her mother’s traditional stories from Papua New Guinea, and her sense of magic and fun as well as her highly literate in the classics father for playing a role in her creative work.

The panel spoke for the highlighting of the emotive elements of poetry within schools for students from an early age rather than just focus on a few set forms like acrostic, limerick and haiku.  If students can connect with the social and emotive power of poetry, and see the role poets have played in society or the role poetry can play at an individual level in their lives, they might just respect the art form more.  This is much more important than just remembering numerical formulas of poetry.

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Magic Fish Dreaming for sale at the Queensland Poetry Festival – A special moment.

Part of the solution to not losing lovers of poetry is creating a greater love and understanding for poetry and all its most attractive attributes in teachers.  Sally Murphy recently completed her doctoral studies into poetry for children, and has worked as a teacher. She found the set ways in which poetry is taught within the curriculum quite uninspiring, to the point where she had to leave teaching, but now visits schools as a poet/writer.  June mentioned a recent enjoyable poetry visit to a high school class where she shared with them life as a children’s poet and did put them in touch with the emotive elements of poetry.

She mentioned a love of what university study taught her about poetry, for it introduced her to African American writers, Indigenous poets and more, and also engaged her with more technical aspects of poetry so she could do more informed experimentation of her work. She loved understanding for the first time how to scan a poem for its metre properly.

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JR Poulter’s many books

JR Poulter, mentioned how it is important for children ‘to feel poetry’ to understand it and write about it.  How the poetry makes them feel can be a vital way to begin their explorations of poetry.

June Perkins, Sally Murphy, Virginia Lowe

Sally focused on the need  for readers to enjoy poetry.  Poetry can bring pleasure and joy and suffers when over burdened with an educative role!  This realisation will attract more people to read it, write it and ultimately buy it.  The panel focused on the magic of words, and their sounds and that we can attract young people to have a great love of language through poetry, and to fall in love with the sounds of words that they then long to understand the full meaning of.  Poetry can also be integrated into all parts of the curriculum and not limited to the ‘literary’ studies subjects but focus on topics like environment, and friendship.  A poem on a topic might bring it alive to students, and increase their engagement with it.  For instance Celia Berrell’s work with Science and Poetry.

The panel discussed that despite the fact it is so hard to traditionally publish poetry many people still write it and publish it on blogs and in chap books, perhaps aware of its healing power, but together they raised the question are poets only performing to other poets.  How do we then attract a readership beyond poets?  This is perhaps something that really needs to change for poetry as a whole. Bring poetry to the people! Address things that appeal to a wide range of the community, including families and children. There are many kinds of poetry for many kinds of people and there is space for all voices, and many choices in style, genre and poetics.

June who had written poems from a young age mainly about experience, nature, identity and peace, began writing poetry for children when her children were small, and she was doing projects  like Ripple,  to advocate for poetry in her local country town with a RADF grant from council. During the discussion June paid tribute to the children’s writing community of Brisbane and Australia wide, and their support and backing of Magic Fish Dreaming.  June also encouraged the writing of poetry with a strong sense of place and identity.  The unique voices of their world can find their own forms of poetic expression, and be shared and nurtured.  By reflecting the spaces we live in within our poetry, we can contribute something unique to the world landscapes of poetry.

The panel tackled the challenges of publishing poetry for children.  There are only a few magazines  where poets can send work to, such as School MagazineCaterpillar and Cricket and the Australian Children’s Poetry blog but trade publishers tend to steer clear of it.  Sally suggested that poets for children within Australia need to work together to create a demand for the genre.  She commended June for her efforts with crowd funding and marketing Magic Fish Dreaming.

The panel  discussed the role of visual books in keeping poetry alive, that is beautifully illustrated books of poetry for all ages from the young to high school readers.  Sally’s verse novels, and all of Jennifer’s works are beautifully illustrated.  At high school June used to have a friend who illustrated her poems for the school newspaper and she spoke about the wonderful collaboration with Helene Magisson and the way she was able to make poems like ‘Beyond Caterpillar Days’ more accessible for any reader through her breathtaking art.  All of the panel discussed the role of the illustrator in adding layers or illumination to the poem which could lead to people who are not practicing poets themselves to engage with the form more.

June encouraged young poets and the audience to become advocates for the art form, to learn many different forms from many cultures not just the European/Western Canon and to then become editors of their school magazines and make sure poetry makes it into the publications.  She mentioned the diverse poets at the Queensland Poetry Festival and the need for the sharing of collections with poets from around the world.  The panel also shared a list of places children and youth might seek publication.

The panelists were asked some questions from the audience.  This was followed by an enthusiastic and interactive reading from the three panelists.  J.R Poulter dynamically read three poems with a backdrop of slides to show the illustration (she has created many poetry posters), whilst Sally performed two rhyming poems, although she strongly believes not all poems should rhyme! Her call and answer poem about washing day was a lot of fun. June invited audience participation in her selection from Magic Fish Dreaming with a back drop of slides of the pages of the book and places and creatures in Far North Queensland as well.

Those gathered, including our lovely library host, continued to chat about poetry and think about what we can do to foster and ensure a publishing future for poetry for children, and by them as well.

All in all a wonderful day which can be built upon. The panel, and now hopefully also the wonderful audience who attended,  share a dream to nurture and bring about more dynamic poetry for children events in Brisbane and Australia wide.  All of us want to see more publishing and sharing of poetry for children, as well as by children for children.

Highlights

Sally Murphy – call and answer poem
Reading ‘Giggle Poems’ with Sally Murphy’s assistance
With local poets and Children’s Literature Community of QLD
Audience Participation – Discovering Magic
June’s Treasured Collection frm the QLD Poetry Festival and preevents
Special – Signed from Sally Murphy!

Thanks to David Perkins for his photography of the day.  We have shown only people who gave consent for their photographs to be shared.  A big thank you to Sally Murphy for flying from Western Australia in the middle of a busy book week to be with us,  and to JR Poulter, and  Virginia Lowe for journeying from Victoria. Virginia also ran a wonderful workshop for creators of children’s books.

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(Pictured above, Virginia Lowe, Create a Kids Book Workshop, 2017)

N.B. This is just my own recollection of the event, and others who were there may remember more or slightly different details. Feel free to send us your blog of your view of the discussion and day.

 

 

 

 

International Literacy Day

I am very honoured to support this project of my dear friend and fellow creative Mel Irvine who has invited me to via skype to an International Literacy day in Botongon.  It’s been quite a journey since we met at a song writing workshop in Far North Queensland, a place where we both shared the power of music and became friends.

Mel says, “International Literacy Day is held on 8 September every year and this year I’ll be celebrating with the children of Botongon as well as some accomplished artists, writers and musicians from Iloilo City. As a special treat, my friend and children’s author Dr June Perkins will be joining us via skype to engage with the children about the subjects closest to her heart: family, the natural world and the importance of going to school. And you can join us too, LIVE via YouTube or Facebook.” 

Mel also shares that she will be livestreaming and answering questions about her project:

“And don’t worry if you can’t make it here to the Philippines, the whole event will be broadcast live over YouTube and Facebook. I will be answering questions live as well as shouting out the amazing people who have donated money to help the children here. I’ll be updating this space regularly with details on how to join in as well as other live events we’ll be holding here with special guest artists, musicians and writers.”

PLEASE NOTE: I am completely independent and not associated with any NGOs, charities, religions or political organisations. I’m not against any of these institutions, I just want everything I do to come from a genuine heart-space of giving, rather than pushing an agenda or some sort of ideology.”

Help Filipino kids with Melinda J. Irvine on World Literacy day 2017.8

 

For More and to find out how to assist Literacy visit Mel’s blog  HERE.

A Mist Shall Rise

Pearlz Dreaming

“Grant, O Thou Loving Lord, that all may stand firm and steadfast, shining with everlasting splendour, so that, at every breath, gentle breezes may blow from the bowers of Thy loving-kindness, that from the ocean of Thy grace a mist may rise…”

-‘Abdu’l-Baha, Selections From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha

  Image (c) June Perkins

For more head to Nineteen Months.

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Poetry Quest Off Line

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At Boonah – Sunrise by June Perkins

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:

Dare to Dream A Sustainable Life As a Creative

And to read about what I feel this whole journey on social media has done to enrich my creative life read this blog:

Social Media, the Joys and Challenges for Authors

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,

June Perkins

Scott Rheuben: Ten Things About Poetry and Me

 

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.

 

9.Where is your best spot for writing poetry and why?

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)

Scott E Rheuben 

 You can find out more about Scott on his webpage.

Wishing Scott well for those speech pathology awards!

 

Boonah World Environment Day in July

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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.

 

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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!

This one is Courtesy festival photographer (I was videoing)

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.

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Gypsy Caravan Tribal Dancers

 

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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