Student Poetry Project

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Silvia Tolisano (@langwitches) reveals a poetry project with a visual and audio layer that hopes to also connect students globally. It’s a matter of joining the wiki, reading the support material, creating poems, publishing them and giving feedback to others. (My feeling is this is aimed at high school students, but the prompt is a scaffolded form of “Where I’m From” poem which I have used with primary kids = achievable!)

This post was sent to the site by supporter, Jackie Hawkes. If you have any poetry-related articles, links, etc. please feel free to email them to

Here’s a poetry writing (and illustrating) competition opened to young writers, if you’d like to pass it on.

This post was supplied by a generous supporter of this site, Dianne Cook.

Poem of the Day

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Perhaps you’ve tried a jaunty stride,

A country romp, a city stomp.

Do your legs swing and your arms fling?

Do you ramble and roam all the way home?

Do you step pigeon-toed when crossing the road?

Is your waddle so humble, it’s almost a stumble?


Hilaire Belloc, known for humour and rhyme,

Had something to say (no rhyme this time):

‘The walk is a series of potential falls

Countered by placing one foot forward.’

Now you’ve heard (quick sketch, last word):

Stroll or race or fall flat on your face!


Walking helps your lungs and heart

And keeps your brain alert and smart,

Enough words, enough talk,

   Get out there! Walk, walk!


Edel Wignell

© The Australian Society of Authors

In Verse: Why and How I Write Verse Novels


I fell in love with verse novels when I discovered those written by Margaret Wild (Jinxed and One Night). I decided then that I wanted to write in the form one day, and my love of verse novels continued to grow when I discovered works by Steven Herrick, Catherine Bateson, Lorraine Marwood and more. It took a while to find the right story for a verse novel, but when a girl called Pearl started telling me her tale, I wrote my first verse novel, Pearl Verses the World. Later, I met (in my imagination) a boy named John who similarly wanted his tale told that way, in Toppling.

Roses are Blue is my third verse novel, and took a little longer than the others to get from early draft to publication, because it took a lot of work to find the right balance between the sad, difficult subject matter, and some hope and happiness for Amber, the main character.

When I write a verse novel, I start with a character and a situation. In this novel, I had a little girl, Amber, in the horrible situation of confronting just how different her mother is – from other mothers, and from the mum she used to be.

I write the story from beginning to end, trying not to revise or edit until I have a first draft complete. Because I’m writing in poetry, I do consider things like line length and poetic technique, but try not to overthink these at the draft stage. I want to get the story down. So I wrote Amber’s story, of struggling with the changes in her life, and of wondering how her friends will react to Mum when she comes to school for a Mother’s Day function.

Once the draft is complete the hard work begins. Just as with a prose story I need to look at the story arc, the plot and any subplots, character development, setting and so on, but I also need to consider whether it works as poetry. Are there layers of meaning? Have I used line length to the best possible advantage? And what about poetic devices such as rhythm, repetition, alliteration, assonance, imagery, even rhyme? I consider how these can be used to enhance the story.

With Roses are Blue, I found the poetry part flowed quite naturally, but the  plot needed quite a bit of work, as I searched for more hope for Amber and for the reader. The character of Leroy became

quite important too. Although he was present in early drafts his role grew in subsequent drafts.

Of course, I also have to convince my publisher that the verse novel works. Walker Books had published my first two verse novels, and I was lucky enough to have their support in getting Roses are Blue to publication standard. This meant that once I thought the book was as good as I could get it, I had lots of editorial input from Sue and Jess at Walker until it was ready to be illustrated (by brilliant illustrator Gabriel Evans) and then, eventually, published.

Then, of course, there’s the fun part: holding my book baby in my hands, and getting to share it with the rest of the world.

© Sally Murphy

Sally Murphy is a children’s author, poet and reviewer, who lives in Western Australia. When she’s not writing verse novels, poems, picture books and more, she’s busy with her family – she has six gorgeous children, an adorable grandson and a loveable husband, as well as two dogs. Sally loves to share her poetry with the world through school visits, festival bookings, author talks and the like.

Roses are Blue (illustrated by Gabriel Evans is published by Walker Books Australia (ISBN 9781922244376) and is available from good bookstores, and from online stores including Booktopia, for a RRP of $16.95

Sally can be visited online at her website:

Or her Facebook page:

Roses are Blue

Here’s a writing challenge which might interest all you poets! Thanks to Sally Odgers for sending it.

Poem of the Day


Eagle Song


Hill-lord sorcerer, wedge-tailed eagle,

Drawn on breath of wind.

Brown breadth plunging, arrow-lunging,

Earthing into prey.

Gold eye blazing, coldly fazing

Storm that’s coming on.


Sky-sail clipper, wedge-tailed eagle,

Drifting on the wind.

Rip waves forming, slow tide borne in

Flash of bronze and white.

Thunder rattling, lightning shattering,

Trees and livid sky.

Still there’s eagle, riding bravely,

Master of the storm.


© Sophie Masson

Poem of the Day

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Death’s Kaleidoscope


The master of pain is prominent in Dachau,

Perfecting a frown on a gaunt and shrivelled face,

Playing unconscionable games with my beautiful mother,

Reminding me I’ll be next if I survive a few more years,

Debating death is like an alluring melody hammered inside my head.


Violins bring a magical essence of self achievement,

Comforting disheartened and shattered hearts,

But I was not permitted to bring anything with me,

Without my violin I feel incredibly lonely,

Unable to let out my suffering through music,

Hitler has taken away my purpose.


An undefined soldier waltzes over to my mother,

Raising his brutal fist above her emaciated back,

Characteristically, my brother and I intervene,

A cacophony of sounds sprint through my ears,

My mother’s unrelenting and mortifying screaming,

A haunting laugh from my mocking captor,

The resonating sound of a newly-fired gun.


Death entangles its lanky arms around my heart,

Draining my crimson liquid onto the frozen ground,

Leaving three distinct colours for all to contemplate,

Dazed red, for the shapes I see from tear filled eyes,

Blotched grey, for a monstrously mislead Germany,

Cumulus white, for the colour on my dying brother’s face,

The shifting pattern of colours lingers momentarily, then dies.


© Sarah Jaeger

Winner Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Competition – Upper Primary, 2014

Poem of the Day

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They Danced in the Town


Grandmother Mulligan never left the house,

not once in ninety-eight years.

She could hardly talk and she could not walk –

but, she still had a very fine time,

oh yes, she still had a very fine time.


For every night as she slept, her nose crept away,

and danced in the town with her ears, her ears.

Danced in the town with her ears.


Little old lady, Penelope Simms,

had aches in her toenails and all of her limbs.

Her back was hunched, her walk was slow –

there wasn’t much difference from Stop and Go –

but, she still had a very fine time,

oh yes, she still had a very fine time.


For every night as she slept, her toes crept away,

and danced in the town with her ears, her ears.

Danced in the town with her ears.


Dear old Doddie had a clapped out body,

she was wrapped in a plaster cast.

She could not itch, she could not twitch,

her life was fading fast –

but, she still had a very fine time,

oh yes, she still had a very fine time.

For every night as she slept, her nose crept away,

and danced in the town with her ears, her ears.

Danced in the town with her ears!


© Bill Condon

Poem of the Day

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I’ve never dreaded witches

Who look such dreadful frights,

Flying over ditches

On dark and windy nights.


I never shake if fingers

Touch my face at night,

If of course it lingers

I then turn on the light.


I just ignore the bogies

Lurking in the dark,

Packs of fat old fogies

Looking for a lark.


If I ever saw a lion

I’d punch him on the nose.

I’ve nerves of steel and iron

As everybody knows.


I don’t believe in being scared

I’ve never seen a ghost,

For creepy tales I’ve never cared,

And that’s my favourite boast.


I’ve proved that I’m the bravest

Of super heroes still,

So why does that stupid dentist

Still scare me with his drill?



© Margaret Pearce