Ten Things About Poetry and Me: Teena Raffa-Mulligan

1.What is your earliest memory of poetry?

Sitting beside my tiny English grandmother on the sofa or my bed, listening to her recite poems to me. I particularly recall a sad poem called Papa’s Letter about a little boy who writes a letter to his father in Heaven and is trampled by a horse when he goes out to post it. I’ve since learnt it was written in the nineteenth century by an anonymous poet. Another that lingers in my memory from that time is William Allingham’s The Fairies, a favourite of both Nana’s and Mum’s and one I eventually shared with my own children.

 

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

I always thought of myself as a writer, not a poet, though I did produce a number of rather serious contemplative poems as a young adult. It never occurred to me to write poems specifically for children until years later when my children were in primary school. I was writing mainly short stories, picture books and chapter books but occasionally I’d have an idea for a poem. I discovered The School Magazine in 1998 and began to write poetry with these wonderful publications in mind. Some of my published poems were initially written as rhyming picture books that didn’t sell in that format. I believe in being open to possibilities so I looked at alternative markets for them and struck lucky.

 

3. Do you think writing for children is the same or different from writing for adults?

The same skills as a writer are required for both. It’s a matter of keeping your audience in mind when choosing what to write and how to write it. However, a well-written poem for children will be appreciated equally by adults. We’ve all been children and can remember how we felt in our younger lives. When poets can draw on this child aspect of themselves, the poetry they produce will have universal appeal.

I know how much I enjoy reading the wonderful poems being submitted to the Australian Children’s Poetry website for posting as Poem of the Day and how often I think, ‘Wish I’d written that!’

  

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

John Masefield. His poem ‘Sea Fever’ has been a favourite of mine since childhood for its rhythm and imagery. It gives me goosebumps even now when I say it aloud. Cargoes, too, has a wonderful sense of rhythm.

 

  

5. Give five words to describe your poetry?

Child-friendly, whimsical, playful, amusing, simple

   

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

‘ Leaf Lace’ was inspired by the discovery that caterpillars had been making a feast of my geraniums. One night when I couldn’t sleep, I mentally sifted and sorted the words until they felt right.

 

Lace maker

Toils secretly

Tucked out of sight;

Creates ornate

Patterns

Until they’re just right.

Delicate, intricate

Handiwork done

Designer departs

To start

The next one.

Serrates, decorates

All my plants in this way.

I confess

I’m impressed

At this leaf lace display.

 

 7.What is your favourite form of poetry?

Rhyme. I get a lot of pleasure from playing with different rhyming patterns, so I might focus on rhymes within lines, or an AAB, CCB end line rhyme pattern. Whatever pattern I choose, it’s always a challenge to make the rhyme feel natural rather than contrived. I also enjoy reading well-written rhyming poems.

 

8, Have any of your poems been illustrated? If so what did you think of the illustration? 

All of the poems I’ve had accepted by The School Magazine (about 20 in all, several also reprinted) have been accompanied by wonderful illustrations. It’s always a thrill to receive my copies of the magazine in the mail and see how an artist has interpreted my words.

 

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

I don’t have a best spot. Once I have an idea, I will mull it around in my head as I go about my daily activities, jotting down fragments or lines in a notebook as they come to me. Often I’ll mentally work on a poem if I’m awake during the night. When I’m a passenger in the car also seems to trigger my poetic impulses. Of course, the real work of refining poetry happens in my office when I start keying my random bits and pieces into the computer.  

 

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

Read the work of contemporary poets to get a sense of what is being written and published now. Today’s children are incredibly savvy and they’re exposed to very different influences than earlier generations through technology and social media. Keep in mind who it is you are writing for, and don’t forget there is still a child in you who knows what it is to be a child. Write from that place.

You can find out more about Tina here

Website: www.teenaraffamulligan.com

FB author page: https://www.facebook.com/TeenaRaffaMulligan/

Twitter: @TraffaM

Blog: https://intheirownwrite.wordpress.com

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Ten Things About Poetry and Me: Nadine Cranenburgh

 

1.  What is your earliest memory of poetry?
The earliest poems I remember hearing were ‘Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace’ by AA Milne, and  The Swing, ‘Bed in Summer’ by Robert Louis Stevenson. I enjoyed imagining myself as a soldier in a beefeater hat and hearing words about playing in the park and going to bed in daylight as they were things I actually did! I must have been very young (under five) when my mum read them to me, and they were early influences when I began writing poetry for children.

 

2. When and why did you begin to write poetry for children?
When I had kids! At first I didn’t write anything down, I made verses up and recited them aloud to entertain and occupy my sons when they were babies and toddlers. Not surprisingly, the first poems I thought up were about them. When I was studying children’s writing around that time, and was asked to write a children’s poem – I was lucky to have one in my head ready to go. My poetry has gotten older as they have, although I still sometimes write for very young children.

 

3. Do you think writing for children is the same or different as writing for adults?
That’s a good question. I often write for children in a child’s voice, but not always. A recent poem I wrote in my own (adult) voice was picked up by a literary journal for children aged 12 and up.
I suppose a good poem should appeal to all readers, whatever their age. The most important thing is a clear theme, and carefully chosen words that paint vivid images, and that is the same for children and adults. The themes and language need to resonate with the age you are writing for, and that means the experiences and feelings described must fall within those children know or can imagine. But extending experience and language is something that poetry can do as well – so it is good to push the limits a bit.

 

4. If you could be any poet in history who would you choose to be and why?
Can I choose more than one? That’s a doozy of a question! Julia Donaldson has the most fun of any poet I’ve come across recently, and she’s still alive – so I pick her. Seriously though, Donaldson is consistently an amazing read-out-loud rhyming poet, who becomes more enjoyable with every read. And that’s important when reading to young kids over, and over and over.

 

 

5. Give five words to describe your poetry?
Playful, curious, quirky, real, musical

 

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

Wind whistles past my eardrums
a cyclone raging near
My toes are rockets blasting off
the bedsprings creak in fear

 

7. What is your favourite form of poetry?
Up until a couple of years ago, I would have said rhyming poetry, but I’ve been enjoying trying out other forms of poetry, including free verse, and syllabic poems including haiku and cinkqu.
I still love a good rhyme, they are super-satisfying to read out loud.

 

8. Have any of your poems been illustrated? If so what did you think of the illustration
Yes! I’ve had two poems illustrated. Both were organised by publishers, without any input from me and I’ve loved both of the interpretations. The illustrators have brought their own layers to the poems and made them so much more than I could have imagined.

9. Where is your best spot for writing poetry and why?
In my head, wherever inspiration strikes. Sometimes I need to scrabble for a scrap of paper or notebook and pen, so I try to keep them handy.

10. What advice do you have for other poets wanting to write for children?
Tap into your inner child, and listen to the children in your life – whether they are kids, grandkids or classmates. Some of my best lines come from listening to children. And read out loud, to make sure the poem sounds the way you want it to. If you are just starting out – read and re-read the children’s poets you love, and practice writing in their style until you find your own voice, it’s a great way of building your skills.

Nadine has poems and stories for children published online at Australian Children’s Poetry, and in Cricket Media magazines (US), Balloons Lit. Journal (Hong Kong), Comet and Alphabet SoupShe has a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing from RMIT and is currently working on a hybrid graphic novel for young adults (Dark Room: Do Not Enter). In 2016-17 she won an ASA mentorship to develop her work.

 

To find out more about Nadine Cranenburgh

http://nadinecranenburgh.blogspot.com.au/

(Interview by June Perkins, This blog is part of a series on Poets for Children, Ten Things About Poetry and Me.)

Ten Things About Poetry and Me: Stephen Whiteside

Stephen Whiteside

 

1.What is your earliest memory of poetry?

My father read me the poetry of Banjo Paterson when I was a young child. I loved the bouncy rhythms, the clever rhymes, the rollicking stories, the colourful characters, the rich settings. In short, I loved everything about it!

Banjo Paterson

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

I began writing poetry in a consistent way from the age of 21. However, it was not until I reached my mid 30s that I began to write for poetry for children. I think I needed that distance from my own childhood. It feels like a great privilege, but also a great responsibility, to write for children. Adult minds are largely formed, but the minds of children are still very fluid, and can be influenced for better or worse by a great range of stimuli.

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

I love the challenge of writing a poem that can be enjoyed by both adults and children, but there are differences. When I write for children, I try to locate within myself that sense of what it was like to be a child. I then try to entertain that version of myself. It is harder than writing for adults, because I have to make a conscious move to step out of my ‘adult self’.

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

The Australian poet C. J. Dennis.  He lived in a fascinating time and place – Melbourne in the lead-up to and during the First World War. The decades that followed, with the return of the soldiers, followed by the Great Depression, were also amazing. He was also very involved with the beginnings of the Australian film industry. Dennis was friends with Henry Lawson, George Robertson (of Angus & Robertson), David Low, Hal Gye, Bob Croll, the English Poet Laureate John Masefield, and many other fascinating characters.

CJ Dennis

 

5.Give five words to describe your poetry?

Fun. Clever. Witty. Unusual. Rhyming.

 

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

A flying saucer came last night.

It landed in the drive.

I warned the crew, “My dad parks there.

He’ll eat you all alive!”

(from “Dad Meets the Martians”)

 

7.What is your favourite form of poetry?

I love poetry with rhyme and rhythm.

 

8.  Tell me about how you like to perform your poems.

My poems are written to be read aloud. They are inspired by the old tradition of telling stories ‘around the campfire’. Ideally, they should be performed in a social setting, with an audience as well as a performer. I love to believe they could serve as a ‘social glue’, helping to bring people together.

 

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

I often write my best poetry while I am walking, and I love to walk in the bush. Lying in bed at night is also a good place to write poetry.

 

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

Only do it if you enjoy it. There is very little remuneration, so don’t write for the money. On the other hand, if you do truly love it, and you stick at it, the rewards can be very great indeed. Also, write often, take risks, and don’t worry about making mistakes. My favourite quote (paraphrased): “The most mistakes are made by the most successful people.”

 

To find out more about Stephen and his work visit these links

http://www.stephenwhiteside.com.au

http://www.walkerbooks.com.au/Books/The-Billy-that-Died-with-its-Boots-On-and-Other-Australian-Verse-9781922077431

https://australianchildrenspoetry.com.au/australianpoets/u-z-2/stephen-whiteside/

 

(Interviewed by June Perkins, Part of a series of blogs on Poets for Children, Ten Things About Poetry and Me.)

 

Last 24 Hours Magic Fish Dreaming

Kickstartersamples11

We’re down to the final 24 hours for anyone who would like to back Magic Fish Dreaming and join our blog honour roll.

A massive thank you to all our backers so far.

Very last goal, let’s see if we can reach 150 + backers. We’re on 138.

Remember the pledges of $10 for the PDF great for those who want to see the book but who need to save on postage and on a tight budget and of course just $25 with postage included in Australia, or $25AUD with some postage costs overseas

KICKSTARTER LINK

Production meetings begin this week!

Last chance to select rewards with the book and to be included on our backer honour blog roll.

One of our last Hours Specials are detailed Here.

 

Mini Education kit $65 AUD
1 plushy native animal toy 1 Tasmanian Tiger Toy 1 printed book signed by author and illustrator 1 calico bag 1 pdf of educational activities, or printed copy if preferred Stickers and a4 posters

preview7

Treasured Imperfections

TreasuredImperfections (2)

Brendan Bonsack is a songwriter and poet from Melbourne. He performs regularly, both solo and in the folk trio, Accidental Bedfellows.

His work has been recognised with a number of awards and has been translated into Polish and Russian. Brendan’s books and albums are available online via www.brendanbonsack.com.

Thanks for permission to share this work Brendan.

Gone Editing

Gone editing my dear blog readers, and will be absent until the video edits are over.

Here are some highlights of the making of the videos to tell you all about the Magic Fish Dreaming project.

Keep sharing our page and letting people know about this very special book. So delighted to have reached over 1000 visits on the Magic Fish Dreaming blog.

A special thank you to Helene, David and my dear youngest son for their support in the filming of the footage for it.

You can find out more on the facebook page or blog.   Really now almost ready for lift off.  But until then, have a wonderful life.

Tadpole Tails by Celia Berrell

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Tadpoles Trish Hartmann, Flickr Creative Commons

Link to Trish’s Flickr

There’s no such thing as baby frogs.
They don’t have pups like seals or dogs.
When hatching from their frog-spawn eggs
they don’t have any froggy legs.

They’re just a body with a tail
that wriggles through their swimming trail.
But over time they start to change
in ways that we find very strange.

They grow two arms and legs and lungs.
Their tail goes back inside their tums.
As frogs, they’re hardly recognised
until they’ve met-a-morph-o-sized!

(c) Celia Berrell

 

Website: www.sciencerhymes.com.au

Facebook: Celia Berrell’s Science Rhymes

Twitter: @ScienceRhymes

Watch out for that Tick

Watch out for that tick
Out in the garden
Click, click.

Tick is hiding
Tick is biding
Don’t forget
Your antivenom

Take care little pup
So you don’t cry.
Watch out for that tick
Click, click, click.

Watch out for that tick
That hurts
Look for him
Carefully in the dirt.

Take care little pup
So you don’t cry
Watch out for that tick
Click, click, click.

By June Perkins

Monster Truck Boys and Mermaid Girls

Monster Truck boys, Monster truck boys
They love to drive their Monster trucks.

Mermaid Girls, mermaid girls
Swimming with the dolphins
Are the Mermaid Girls.

Now the monster truck boys are swimming in the sea,
Yeah they’re jumpin’ and bumpin’ in the sea.
And the mermaid girls are drivin’ monster trucks
As if they’re giant seals.

Mermaid girls, mermaid girls
Super divin’ mermaid girls
Monster truck boys monster truck boys
Super drivin’ monster truck boys.

Mermaid girls and monster truck boys
They’re all cool and they love school.

Monster Truck boys Monster truck boys
They love to drive their Monster trucks.
Mermaid Girls mermaid girls
Swimming with the dolphins
Are the Mermaid Girls.

Now the monster truck boys are swimming in the sea
Yeah they’re jumpin’ and bumpin’ in the sea
And the mermaid girls are drivin’ monster trucks
As if they’re giant seals.

Mermaid girls, mermaid girls.
Super divin’ mermaid girls.
Monster truck boys monster truck boys
Super drivin’ monster truck boys.

Mermaid girls and monster truck boys.
They’re all cool and they love school.

By June Perkins

Rippling on from 2007, this was written in 2008 for Feluga School Students to Sing.