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!