For More Information visit QAG – Quiet
Spring Program will be up on the site soon!
For More Information visit QAG – Quiet
Spring Program will be up on the site soon!
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?
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:
(Interview part of a series of blogs, Ten things about Poetry and Me, by June Perkins)
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.
All the best,
From June, Helene and the Rest of the Magic Fish Dreaming Team
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.
You can find the facebook page in the sidelinks.
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.
Agoo, agoo, agoo
[translation love you, and you and you]
(c) June Perkins
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 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
i wish you could have felt the earth
beneath your bare feet
so you could remember it
so my little butterfly girl
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
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.
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
from those who have lost their
loved tiny ones
only to be left with
The bed spread is covered in butterflies
and we have time to take photographs
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
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
inside of me.
playing her favourite music and
the way she would respond.
We must celebrate that she took a
she did live for a few minutes.
Yet we are made of tears for her.
We long to dance with her not
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.