Write winning words


12th Kathleen Julia Bates Memorial Writing Competition (Children’s Poetry)

For Australian writers only, this competition is for a poem suitable for a child up to the age of 12 years. Maximum length 30 lines. Open theme. Poems that have previously won a competition are ineligible.

All entries are to have a separate title page with full contact details including email address for results. Entrants will also receive a score sheet and other feedback.

Entry fee is $10 per poem. Payment is by direct deposit to BSB 633-000 Account Number 140152760. Please use the format (your surname)_poetry when making your deposit so payment can be easily matched with submissions.

Prizes are $150 first prize, $100 for second prize and $50 for third prize plus certificates for winners and short-listed entries. Entries must be received on or before 15 August.

Results will be announced on the Australian Children’s Poetry blog site (www.australianchildrenspoetry.com) and in Buzz Words (All the Buzz about Children’s Books).

Email entries to Teena Raffa-Mulligan at traffa-m(at)bigpond.net.au




Interview with Jenny Erlanger



“I hope that if there are any children reading this blog, they will be inspired by the passions of the various poets interviewed on the site to explore verse as a means of expressing the feelings and experiences that relate to their own everyday lives.”

– Jenny Erlanger

When did your interest in poetry begin and what were the circumstances?

I’m pretty sure it was through reading AA Milne’s poetry as a child that I became interested in poetry, particularly in rhyming, rhythmic verse. As a child myself, I enjoyed the humour he conveyed in simple poems about everyday events, as well as the musicality of his lines.

What was your experience with poetry as a child at school? 

I don’t remember ever having studied poetry at school but I do remember my Grade 4 teacher – who actually became a valued family friend – being very supportive of my own poetry writing and encouraging me to share my poems with the rest of the class.

Did you write poetry as a child?

I started writing poetry during my second year of primary school and for the next couple of years I was a prolific writer. At certain stages during that time I was penning a poem a day. Many poems were lost along the way since I wrote them on single sheets of paper, but a number of them have survived in an exercise book my father bought me specifically for my poetry efforts.

When was your first poem published?

Apparently one of my poems was read out on the radio during a session of the Argonauts’ Club but I missed it! The first publication, though, was the collection of poetry, “Giggles and Niggles” in 2007.

Who are some poets whose writing you love?

I’ve already mentioned AA Milne, but I’m also a fan of Shel Silverstein and Pam Ayres.

Have you had any poetry writing mentors?

I don’t have any ongoing mentors but through my participation last year in the Maurice Saxby Mentorship Program I was fortunate to have Jackie Hosking as a mentor. She gave me valuable feedback on a couple of picture book manuscripts I’d written.

What inspires you to write poetry?

I think poems are a great vehicle for conveying feelings about and reactions to so much of what happens in our lives. In a few succinct words a particular moment in time, or the repercussions of that moment , can be captured in a neat and engaging framework.

My own love of nature has also been a huge inspiration for many of my reflectional poems. I’ve found poetry a fantastic outlet for expressing my awe of certain aspects of nature and exploring what I see as the messages the natural world has for us regarding different aspects of our everyday lives as human beings.

When you are writing a poem, what comes first — a subject, a line, a word?

I would always start with a subject. I could never see myself starting with a line and then wondering where it will go from there. The inspiration for that subject, though, might come from a single word, a play on words, a funny expression or, in the case of my children’s poetry, some humorous event.

It is frequently the last line of a poem that comes to me first. It is this line – normally a punch line or a twist of some sort – that dictates the type of rhyming patterns and rhythmic construction I’ll be using.

Do you workshop your poems with anyone?

I’ve recently joined a writers’ group that meets once a month, so if I’ve written something between visits I take it along to share. For many years though, I haven’t really workshopped my poems. My long-suffering husband is usually the one who’s bombarded with a new poem as soon as he walks in the door after work.

How do you know a poem you write is finished?

I never consider a poem to have been completely finished. Most of my poems have proved to be works in progress. There are always a few tweaks to make a few hours, days or weeks after I’ve composed a poem but I’ve also found myself making the occasional changes to poems I wrote years ago.

How do you know a poem is ‘good’?

If a poem can still make me smile or touch me in some other way after several readings or recitations, I’m prepared to classify it as a good one.

 change of view5

News Update


Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards
Closing date 30 June

The annual poetry competition for school-aged children is now open. Optional theme is ‘the open door’. Individual fee of $15 or $25 for schools (up to 30 entries) or $50 (over 30 entries).

For more information, click here.

Poem of the Day

Thank you to everyone who has been contributing poetry for publication on this blog. Your submissions are much appreciated and I’m enjoying them immensely. Please keep them coming. If you’re a poet who is still thinking about whether to submit, please do! Poems are always needed and get posted so long as they are suitable for children (including teenagers). Previously published poems can be submitted provided you still retain copyright. Email traffa-m@bigpond.net.au

Articles, events, information and interviews

ACP is also happy to accept information about children’s poetry activities and events in Australia and overseas, poetry links, competitions, interviews with poets or publishers, and relevant articles.

Poetry books

English poet Roger McGough has criticised the lack of poetry books for children following the short-list announcement of books in the 2015 Children’s Poetry Award in the UK. You can read his comments here: http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-32451011 and take note of the short-listed books here: https://www.clpe.org.uk/page/67

Sites to visit

Poets’ Garage is a supportive community of people who write verse for children. Poets’ Garage members write (and critique) everything from haiku to rhyming picture books.

The Garage motto is: We crit hard; we crit with love; we crit as a team! Through constructive critiques, Garage members are dedicated to helping each other improve technique, become more confident and capable writers, discuss and share information, and get published. https://poetsgarage.wordpress.com/

Poetry Friday is a weekly blogging event in which poets, writers, readers, and lovers of children’s poetry share blog posts about poetry. http://www.nowaterriver.com/what-is-poetry-friday/

Poem of the Day

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By John Williams


I am an extraordinary dairy man,

I really give that milk a shake,

I whir it on my mixer,

I think you should partake.


I have such scrumptious flavours,

I’ll put a dob of ice-cream in,

Your taste buds will go ballistic,

Just after you begin.


There you go, drink it up,

Well, what do you think of that?

I think it tastes so very nice,

But, will it make me fat?

Poem of the Day


In or Out?

By Nadine Cranenburgh


(Can be sung to the tune of ‘Do Your Ears Hang Low?’)


Is your belly button in, like a dimple in your skin?

Can you pull it down to frown? Can you pull it up to grin?

When you stretch your tummy tight, does it disappear from sight?


Is your belly button in?


Is your belly button out? Can you wiggle it about?

When you roll your tummy down, is it like a puppy’s snout?

If you poke it right in, then, does it pop straight out again?


Is your belly button out or in?


Poem of the Day


Questions about Wasps

by Helen Hagemann

Each morning, a wasp starts out as a lone traveller
heading into the garden, its hind legs dangling and
trailing in the wind. These moments are an eloquent

gesture of nature, the wasp on a journey into nectar,
jazzing up noisy wings, talkative as the bumble bee
already in the Fuchsia. There are many questions you

might want to ask, yet the only one you do know is
that wasps sting, especially late summer if you have
a fly swat or rolled newspaper in your hand.

Yet you’re curious about this eager garden traveller, like
a fly-in miner, flying out. Is he copying the tiger with
all those stripes on his back? Is he the bee’s rival, as he

hovers in mimicry? Is it to camouflage pincers in wax flowers
or to fool the bumble bee into thinking he is one of him?
And why does this busy wasp follow from petal to stamen

and stamen again, and not the other way around? What about
his paper-mache home, is that in the roof? Is he building
a colony of one hundred wasps, damaging the beams?

You guess that wasps are designed to make you think. So,
wondering about that loud buzzing noise as he backs out of
a bud, is he imitating the operatic bee who comes out singing?

Poem of the Day



by Anne Bell

Late sunlight tight-ropes across roof-tops

and maple trees finger a no-colour sky,

searching for not-yet stars;

on the side-walks

ginkos let fall their memories of summer

for the wind to riffle through,

and the scent of pancakes and coffee and chilli con carne

comes hurrying down the street.

Somewhere, out of sight,

a saxophone stands on tip-toe for a note  –

and the thought of tomorrow sings in my heart.

A version of this poem was first published in “The Voice” (NSW Speech and Drama Assoc.)

Poem of the Day


House of germs

by Jenny Erlanger


Dad’s got a fever, he’s dripping with sweat.

Mum’s got a virus, the worst you can get.

Buster keeps coughing, we’re calling the vet.

And I’m stuck in the house for the day!


My brother’s come down with the nastiest flu,

my sister’s been chucking for hours in the loo.

the cat has been constantly vomiting too.

Could you please come around for a play?

 This poem was originally published in “Giggles and Niggles” (Haddington Press, 2007)

Poem of the Day

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A Snake Swallowed Poor Henry

By Mike Lucas


A snake swallowed poor Henry on his visit to the zoo.

A snake swallowed poor Henry and I know this to be true,

For he disappeared the moment that his classmates turned their backs,

And the snake grew fat and lumpy half a moment after that.


A snake swallowed poor Henry as he licked at his ice-cream.

A snake swallowed poor Henry, though we didn’t hear him scream.

All we heard was slither, slither and a satisfying hiss

And the snake grew fat and lumpy half a moment after this.


A snake swallowed poor Henry on our zoo visiting day.

A snake swallowed poor Henry while he looked the other way.

Someone shouted, ‘Look up in the sky! A flying alligator!’

And the snake grew fat and lumpy just a half a moment later.


A snake swallowed poor Henry but nobody found out why.

A snake swallowed poor Henry as he stared up at the sky.

All they saw was one boy gone and one long, fat and lumpy creature

And a smear of chocolate ice-cream on the lips of me, their teacher.



Poem of the Day

1 Comment

The Rainbow Fairies

By Bridh Hancock


As I thought that I should die from

Eating what ain’t food for me,

I thought I saw, out through the window,

A rainbow there for me to see.


Now, rainbows bless, with mystic colours,

Evening skies quite magically;

Arching all the way up and over

From here to there — where that may be.


But this was quite another rainbow

Beckoning me to come outside.

How it sparkled in sequined splendor!

I saw Fairies down it slide.


Then they flew up, vanishing skyward —

This as only Fairies might. —

Oh, such beauty! — razzling! dazzling! —

Extra-squisite! What a sight!


The rainbow plonked down in our garden,

Out the back and down the yard,

Awesoming the veggie-patch

Of radish, cabbage (Yuck!) and chard.


I, alone in all the world,

Stopped to stare where, in the mud,

This singularly special, riveting rainbow

Quite transformed our humble spud.


Fairies in twenty different colours

There did spin and dance and sing,

And, having caught my startled attention,

Pointed with finger, toe, and wing


To where grew artichokes, Brussels sprouts,

Caulis and (Blagh! No-thanks!) Broad beans,

Then shouted with the voice of parents,

“Do as you’re told and eat your greens!

Yes, all your veggies and greens!”