Ten Things About Poetry and Me: J.R.Poulter/J.R.McRae

1.What is  your earliest memory of poetry?

I’m told, I knew all my nursery rhymes by heart before I went to Kindergarten. So someone, possibly my mother or maternal grandmother, taught me. My love of verse came from listening, firstly, to my father recite comic verses by Lewis Carroll and melodramatic poetry by Mrs Felicia Hemans [Casablanca, in particular, which he recited with flair] and, secondly, to my maternal grandfather recite The Man from Snowy River, and reading The Hunting of the Snark, by Lewis Carroll.

2.When and why did you begin to write poetry for children?

I started writing poetry and illustrating my verse whilst in primary. Many of the poems were either narrative or humorous or both, which I read or wrote to my maternal grandmother, who is responsible for having encouraged this behaviour in her granddaughter..

3.Do you think writing for children is the same or different as writing for adults (explain)

That it is written for children should not in any way diminish the pleasure it can give adults. The drama of the ballad, from medieval Barbara Allen to Gothic Edgar Allan Poe and Walter de la Mare and the rollicking humour of poets like Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll and Ogden Nash are as entertaining for adults as they are for children. Verse is everywhere – it surrounds us – advertising jungles, verse on birthday cards, songs are poems set to music, movie and TV theme songs, national anthems, rally cries, and football team songs.

However, there are categories of poems that are more for the adult reader, rather than the child. The child grows into these latter verse forms – love poems, protest poems and the more convoluted literary forms. The more exposure to verse in its playful and dramatic aspects, the more the child is likely to explore the poetic medium for themselves as they mature.

 

4.If you could be any poet in history who would you choose to be and why?

Shakespeare! In my maternal grandparents’ home, Shakespeare and the Bible were quoted with equal regularity. They introduced me to the stories of the Shakespearean plays whilst I was in primary. The eloquence, drama and beautiful flow of Shakespearean language is something to aspire to, a ‘gold standard.’

5. What are five words that describe your poetry?

Broadly speaking – Dramatic, rhythmic, storyful, humorous, imaginative

 

6.Share a few lines from one of the poems you have written that you are most proud of.

From Babi Yar, published in Quadrant, December 2011

Verse 4 and last line –

Deep inside collective mind

The forest grows upon mankind.

It hides the children clinging to

The bones of mothers, fathers, kin

Silent as the night within

At Babi Yar.

 

 7. What is your favourite form of poetry?

All forms!:)

 

8. Have any of your poems been illustrated? If so what did you think of the illustration? And or Tell me about how you like to perform your poems?

Yes. Over 100 of my poems have been illustrated by wonderful artist/illustrator collaborators in our Poster Poem Project. I have illustrated a number of my own poems as well.

I love the added visual dimension that illustration gives the written word.

Doing dramatic readings is a passion!

Speech and Drama lessons in high school taught me how to better bring to vivid life a dramatic or humorous reading. It introduced me to the flow of language in a new way and gave me a deeper appreciation of the ‘sounds’ words make, how often words echo their own sense [onomatopoeia].

It is also a great advantage in ‘proofing’ my own book texts, whether  rhyming or in prose.  Flow is important in telling story – pause and emphasis give heightened dramatic effect; a good rhythm carries the story along, especially in verse.

 

 

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

Anywhere and any time the inspiration hits!

 

10. What advice do you have for other poets wanting to write for children?

Hopefully, they will have never lost their ‘inner child,’ the ability to see the world with eyes open wide and wondering.

Revisit the poets you loved as a child, back as far as favourite nursery rhymes. Think about why you loved them and how they got their message /story across to you. Start by challenging yourself with a limerick version of a nursery rhyme or a ballad form retelling of a fairytale or fable. Read what you write out loud to test the flow. Further test what you have written on children.  If they respond enthusiastically, [and not because they are your kids and know they better!] you have nailed it.

 

J.R.Poulter is a Multi-awarded writer /poet with 30+ traditionally published children’s and education books in Australia, UK, USA and Europe, a former senior educator, librarian, book reviewer, she once worked in a circus. Awards include Children’s Choice, New Zealand, Top Ten Children’s & YA Books, NZ, Premier’s Recommended Reading List, Australia, Simone Wood Award, USA. J.R. teaches poetry & prose and heads Word Wings collaborative, 50+ creatives from 20+ countries. As J.R.McRae, she is an awarded, internationally published poet, fiction / YA writer and artist. Works include novels Free Passage and Cats’ Eyes, Picturebook/YA crossovers Dream of the Fox Women, Tatter Wings and The Dolls’ House in the Forest. International anthologies containing her poetry, stories, art include – Colours of Refuge, Mytho, Musings, A Mosaic, Best of Vines Leaves, Trust and Treachery, 100 Stories for Queensland, Basics of Life, Quadrant Book of Poetry, 2000-2010, The Spirit of Poe, Poe-It and Guide to Sydney Rivers.

 

You can find out more about her works here:

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/wordwings

www.wordwings.wix.com/publishing

https://www.facebook.com/WordWingsPublishing/

 

(Interview part of a series of blogs, Ten things about Poetry and Me, by June Perkins)

 

 

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Magic Fish Dreaming MAKES IT!

We’re so happy and thankful to announce that Magic Fish Dreaming has the green light.

Our project has lift off thanks to you,  all our wonderful backers.

We are so happy to know this book is going out into the world and grateful for everyone that believed in us from the first mention this kickstarter would be happening. Yes, thanks so much Writelinks, Children’s Book Academy,  and many, many more! The blog honour roll is going to be so much fun to put together.

Well Helene is beginning more intensive work on the storyboard!  She is keen to get cracking on the rest of the illustrations.

As for me, I am definitely going to sleep better tonight!  And we are still going to have some media coverage next week and have some brilliant news to share.

But there is more. Now we can go for a stretch goal!

A stretch goal is what we can do if we raise above our $9000AUD funds.

When putting together a kickstarter budget the thing most project coordinators do is work out the lowest amount they can raise in order to achieve their project.

However, there is always a goal post beyond that first goal.  For Magic Fish Dreaming we had further goals if we were able to manage to raise more funds this is what we would do.

STRETCH GOAL 1 – Add more pages of art and poetry! $15,000 AUD / 10348 USD/ 9478.71 Euros/ 7307 (GBP)pounds We can increase number of pages for the book to 40! Do some beautiful end papers with a special design from Helene.

STRETCH  GOAL 2 – Cover Charisma! $20,000+ (AUD)/ 13679.90 USD /12550.47 Euros/9611 (GBP)pounds Now we can print all the books in hard cover with a durable and attractive case binding. One poem can be translated into French or motu.

STRETCH GOAL 3 – Another Film! $25,000 (AUD)/ 1725 USD/ 15789 Euros/ 12171 (GBP) pounds June can create another engaging creative short poetry film featuring Helene’s art and June’s photography, voice, and poetry. We’ll give you a chance to vote on which poem has a short film outing. June will also ‘sound cloud’ the most popular poems for those who would like to hear readings by the poet.

Help us to expand upon the initial  dream by continuing to invite others to pledge https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/juneperkins/magic-fish-dreaming

We would be delighted to welcome more to the Magic Fish Dreaming family!

If you could keep sharing our project that would be brilliant, because we have a chance over the next week, to attempt to make a stretch goal.

Would be fantastic if we could unlock another goal!

The best thing is that now, you, and we, can tell everyone this project is definitely happening.

Thanks to everyone joining our happy green light dance.

You can keep following our progress for this project at  our blog or facebook, where we also love to keep up with environmental news from around the world and share interesting links about that, and art and Queensland.

magicfishdreaming.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/magicfishdreaming/?ref=hl

All the best,

From June, Helene and the Rest of the Magic Fish Dreaming Team

Magic Fish Dreaming – The Journey

I invite you to join my Magic Fish Dreaming Blog.

This blog is to keep you up to date with the project to create the book Magic Fish Dreaming.

If we are able to raise the funds through kickstarter you can expect more beautiful pages like this.

This is only a rough placing of text, as the designer will come on board a bit later.

A big thank you to Matilda Elliot, the editor.  She has been on board since the beginning: encouraging, critiquing and believing in the power and promise of the poetry.

As for the talented Helene Magisson, I will share more about this wonderful illustrator soon.

SAMPLE 1a

huntingforpoem2b

You can find the facebook page in the sidelinks.

Mother, Father and Child – From the notebooks

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I continue a journey through my journals and it is inspiring me to want to keep a detailed one again. I find lists of trips we made, parties we went to, wildlife parks we were at, names of all the people we spent a lot of time with, books I read and more.

These days I have scatty notes on facebook and the occassional writing session once a month and a letter to my children once a year, that’s not to say I haven’t been writing but then I journalled so many things.

I came across this piece (p.347) written for friends – I’ve removed their names though.
I don’t know if I ever gave it to them or if it only remained a thought bubble to develop.


Mother and child

Sand printing her spirit
into the imprint of her baby’s smile
taking a multicoloured blanket
and rippling it for his delight.
Teaching him early – we are all one
all the people blanketing the earth.
Hoping he’ll want to serve humanity
from an early age.

Father and child

Eternal didgeridoo player blows
love’s texture betwixt father and child
cradled by Baha’u’llah.
They rock back and forth
cocooned in the covenant
reaching for music and dance.
One day he’ll earn his name.

The child

Agoo, agoo, agoo
[translation love you, and you and you]

(c) June Perkins

Sorry Poem – Miranda speaks to her lost child

giftsofnature

i am sorry
my lost one
that choosing a name for you has taken so long
it’s just we had to find it for you
when we were swimming in the butterfly tears

i thought
i knew it before you were born
but we you were here and gone so soon
the name we’d picked didn’t seem to fit you
not just right

i thought we needed a name
that said something about
where you were going
and where you came from
perhaps two names side by side
to keep each other company

so it was that Nevaeh
meaning heaven came into my mind
and then Tuwa from Hopi
meaning Earth

i wish you could have felt the earth
beneath your bare feet
just once
so you could remember it

so my little butterfly girl
Tuwa Nevaeh
may your flight
from earth to heaven
be a flight
from the cocoon of the
love from Jackson and i

may you emerge with wings
from the brief touch of our fingertips
and the dreams we had for
you that will never be

Tuwa Nevaeh – tiny princess
forever surrounded by
butterflies
it’s time for me to name
you and say goodbye

(c) June Perkins

It felt like time to return to the story of Miranda and Jackson, but this time using some of the techniques and styles suggested by Sidman’s poetry prompts. I’ll start with the ‘Sorry Poem.‘ This is a character poem from the series on the Story of Miranda and Jackson.

We are made of tears

cloudgirl4 - Copy
ZedettaArt

Bereavement Room

In a room to pretend
for a short time
we had a normal family life
our baby celebrating with us
but there’s no sound of her tears

what we would give for her cries.

In that space we discover
small gifts
from those who have lost their
loved tiny ones
only to be left with
little footprints
on cards.

The bed spread is covered in butterflies
so bright
so light
and we have time to take photographs
to treasure
as if she lived
before we must surrender
the one we love to lie on a bed
of our salt water.

The midwife, Clara,
is so strong
treating us as if we are
like any other parents
but our
hearts are made of tears.

She gives us just enough space
but not too much, catches our tears
as the butterflies fly off the bed
spread and around the room.

I remember the kicks
the time she lived
and danced
inside of me.

Jackson
remembers
playing her favourite music and
the way she would respond.

We must celebrate that she took a
few breaths
she did live for a few minutes.

Yet we are made of tears for her.
We long to dance with her not
for her.

We have to believe she is an angel
with butterfly wings now.

She flies through the clouds
of our tears.

(c) June Perkins

Jackson and Miranda in the bereavement room after the loss of their child. They are fictional characters but their emotions are real. I was watching a moving story about mid wives, and how some hospitals have a bereavement room where they take parents to, to give them time with their child before she or he must be buried. I am thinking of writing a piece from the perspective of the midwife. This documentary was so touching. I may rework this piece too, but this is the continuation of the poetic series. The plot is revealing itself.

Children of the Activists

Children of the Activists

We’re the children of the activists
Brought up sleeping on meeting floors and tables
Some of us began with so little understanding
Of what our parents were doing.

But somewhere along the line
It became so very clear
And we followed in their footsteps with just as much of their commitment.

They didn’t need to tell us that this was what we had to do
For they were busy being heroes just doing what had to be done
And in their search for the heroic they sought out others
Who were just as brave.

They and their parents were there
In the Ages of assimilation, integration, survival, repatriation, reconciliation
And these memories will always be with me.

We meet now, and remember those days so long ago
The visitors, the planning, the action
The embassies, the writing, the rewriting of the histories
And we realise that is who we have become.

The active visionaries who build the future for our children as our parents did for us.
Somewhere along the line we came to see the power within us
That they knew was there and
Would not be there without their battling strength and their gatherings.

Gatherings of power
Gatherings of love
Gatherings of vision
Gatherings of growth
Gatherings of beginnings

This is what I see my daughter begin to see
And it only gives more strength to me.
She and others will stage enactments and re-enactments.
Actions will be wedded to them and never be divorced
From

Waves of power
Waves of love
Waves of vision
Waves of growth
Waves of beginnings

For they are also children of the activists
Building
Destinies of love
Destinies of vision
Destinies of growth

Can be their power
Can be their beginning.

june perkins

This poem was written for my PhD Thesis, for an anthology called the Power Sisters.

Writing /living Country

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Finding the Fields of Memory – June Perkins

Standing on the edge of a circle of parents
talking about how many lessons they take their children to
on the treadmill of taxi parent hood
and the dreams they have for their children

Driving past the circling hawks that
even hang out
over the local supermarket
or the carrion on the road

Midday day terrors as a cane truck drives
up behind me too fast and honks on his horn
to push me off the road
and I am driving the speed limit
on a back road home

Listening to poetry on a verandah
about places, and domestic violence,
aids and post colonialism
and treaties that hide in
big words and non meaning words
that are tinged with superiority

Staying at a friend’s house and
wandering out to take sunrise pictures
but waking the dogs

My best friend says she can’t follow more than
four blogs about things that mean something to her
there are just too many blogs and too many stories
it’s cluttered chatter if you
are pulled into the vortex of blogland
And we laugh and continue to plan our book

A room full of marking and
a loung eroom taken over by
end of year teacher stress
and my dear husband who is
in that profession so many put down
but they are underpaid, overworked
and those who care so much work so hard
if only more parents could see our lounge room flood..

Writing country
or is country writing me
with memories and somewhere are the lost youth who’ve
given up on life and I wonder
how we rewrite the country to be a place to grow and dream
and not end up speaking
of yet another suicide

By June Perkins

The Forgotten Children

I can't help but fear, look to my species and tremble,
I can’t help but fear, look to my species and tremble,- Mandee Carter – flickr creative commons

My heart cries for them by night.
My soul speaks to them by day and
my loving arms can never quite reach far and wide enough
to hold them all within my love.

They say – your time is precious and
your heart too weak to carry their burdens.
They say – take time for yourself,
don’t get in too deep;
but deep are the cuts they inflict on their frail and shaking wrists
deep, is the hole our society has dug for them and
deep is how far I will go in order to pull up the hands of those who need me.

They say you will burn out
but the only burning I feel is the fire of love in my heart.
The only burning I see are the tears
that burn tracks of sadness down their defeated faces.

My heart will burn endlessly for them like a candle,
like a candle that burns and sacrifices its wax,
only to give light to a dark room for a short time.
I will burn for them.

You are light – I want to tell them
You are beauty – I want them to see
You are all that you need and more
And you are the love inside of me.

Society has failed you
Your parents too tired to see,
Your own self you seem to have lost,
But you will find solace in me.

By Raffi Daliri

I read this beautiful poem from Raffi Daliri on facebook today and asked her if I could share it as it’s full of ripples light.

It reminds me of this quote ‘The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him.’ Pablo Casals (Spanish Cellist and Conductor)” – June Perkins

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Unity Heart – By June Perkins