Poem of the Day

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Postcard From Mars
by Allan Cropper

There’s a trillion stars
and one of them’s Mars,
and that’s where I’m wanting to go.
It shines brightly red
‘mongst stars overhead,
a warming and welcoming glow.
A star it not be?
No difference to me.
It lives way out there in deep space.
Can’t save for a house
on this planet of ours
so I’m thinking that Mars is the place.
I’m planning a trip,
booked on a space ship
that’s due to depart in the spring.
I will be space suited,
luggage is included,
I will not be packing a thing.
I’ll have all new neighbours,
they live in the craters,
antennae on top of their head.
They ‘re tiny and green,
but they’re easily seen
‘gainst a backdrop of nothing but red.
So wish me good luck
as I pack my space truck
to head off to the great unknown.
Don’t worry at all,
I’ll give you a call
if I can get bars on my phone.
I’ll try for a while,
continue to dial,
I’ll contact you, never you fear.
If I can’t get through
a post card will do,
that simply says ‘Wish you were here’.

Poem of the Day

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Blue and red

by Sophie Masson

 

All the day long, the bluebird sings,

High in the trees, high on the wing.

 

All the day long, the red cow eats,

Moos and eats, moos and eats.

 

All the night long, the blue dog howls,

Keeps up the neighbours with his sad yowls.

 

All the night long, the red fox prowls,

Watch out you farmers, lock up your fowls!

 

 

Spreading the word

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ABC Local radio – a greatly under-utilised resource?

by Stephen Whiteside

I was very excited when my collection of rhyming verse/bush poetry for children, The Billy That Died With Its Boots On and Other Australian Verse was published by Walker Books in May last year. Walker did a beautiful job of putting the book together, and I felt confident that it would do well.

However, I was a little disappointed with what I felt was a lack of publicity. I made my own efforts, and did manage to secure an interview on ABC Local radio in Melbourne (774) on a Monday afternoon during the school holidays, but that was about it.

Then, when the book won a Golden Gumleaf for Book of the Year at the Australian Bush Laureate Awards during the Tamworth Country Music Festival in January this year, I realised I had the ‘hook’ I needed. It was particularly gratifying – and of interest to the media – that a book for children had won an award that is ostensibly an award for books for adults.

I decided to target ABC Local radio once again and, again, my home town, Melbourne came through. I secured an interview with Libby Gorr on a Sunday morning. However, I had no success with the other capital cities.

It then occurred to me that my natural constituency, given that the book was ‘bush verse’, was probably rural and regional Australia. With this in mind, I began to approach some of the smaller ABC Local radio stations. I quickly struck gold.

As a general rule, responses fell into one of three categories.

  1. The presenter loved bush poetry, and pounced on the opportunity to interview. (This happened a couple of times.)
  1. The station had no interest in the book unless I was visiting their town, which I wasn’t. (This also happened quite a few times.)
  1. The station was interested in the book, but needed some local connection with the book to justify an interview. This also happened on quite a number of occasions, and was where the challenge began.

I secured a state-wide interview in Ballarat by explaining the history of my various ancestors in rural Victoria. I secured an interview in south west Queensland by discussing the influence of Banjo Paterson on my work. (Paterson wrote Waltzing Matilda in this part of Australia.) I secured a couple of interviews in South Australia by discussing the influence of CJ Dennis on my work. (Dennis was born in South Australia, and lived there as a child and young adult.) I have secured an interview in Albany, Western Australia, by explaining that there are poems about whales in the book. (We will do the interview as soon as the whales arrive!) I have also secured an interview in Tamworth, because that is where I won the award.

I should add that all of these interviews (13 now in total) have been conducted without my leaving Melbourne. A few have been live, but most were pre-recorded. Most have been conducted on my mobile phone. I attended the ABC Soutbank Studios for the interview with Libby Gorr.

Of particular interest was the Ballarat interview, where I was placed in a ‘Tardis’ in Southbank. These are highly sophisticated studios that allow the interviewee to sound as though they are in the same studio as the interviewer, even though they may be many miles away.

My favourite interviews have been with the smallest stations in far off corners of this huge continent. The interviewers tend to be more passionate, the interviews longer, and the questions more interesting.

Do any of these interviews sell books? I don’t know, and I probably never will. I cannot see how they could do any harm, however, and they are great fun. Of course, the number of people listening to these programmes is likely to be less than with the large metropolitan stations, but there is nothing to be done about that.

My own feeling is that these smaller rural and regional ABC Local radio stations are a highly valuable and probably greatly under-utilised resource for authors trying to sell their books.

Poem of the Day

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Did you now?

by Neridah McMullin

 

Thought I might stay

Home today.

Safe.

Secure.

Did you now?

 

Thought I might

Miss you,

too

Much.

Did you now?

 

Thought maybe

Cos’ you’re smart,

You could

Homeschool me?

Did you now?

 

The house needs

A vacuum.

Doggy doo to

Be picked up,

So much work.

Didn’t you know?

 

Thought I might,

But now…

I think

I miss my friends.

I’ll go get ready.

You go do that now.

 

 

Poem of the Day

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When Sammy Woke Up One Morning

By Pamela Ueckerman

 

When Sammy woke up one morning,
He discovered a note by his bed,
“I’m travelling up to the North Pole,
To meet the toy maker,” it said.

“We’ve been together forever,”
The letter continued to say,
“And now you no longer need me,
I’ve decided to go away.”

“I know that you got me for Christmas,
That I was left under the tree,
I came through the chimney with Santa,
As he was the one who made me.”

“So I’m leaving this morning to meet him,
Don’t know if I’ll ever be back,
But watch out for something this Christmas,
That Santa may bring in his sack.”

The signature down at the bottom,
Was hurriedly scribbled in blue,
The name that it spelled out so simply,
Was that of his teddy bear Boo.

Now Sammy was quivering sadly,
He’d miss his favourite friend,
The bond that he had with his teddy,
Had come to a curious end.

Meanwhile in Sammy’s back garden,
Our brave bear was not far at all,
He’d been smuggled outside with the laundry,
But couldn’t climb over the wall.

He thought that his travels were over,
He hung his poor head in despair,
When at once a grey pigeon named Peter,
Hoisted him into the air.

They travelled for hours and hours,
Over mountain and desert and sea,
When at last the pigeon released him,
And Boo landed BUMP in a tree.

He looked all around and below him,
He didn’t know how far he’d come,
But the coldness was making him shiver,
And his poor little nose was quite numb.

He spotted an eagle close by him,
And begged for a ride to go forth,
A ship took him into the Arctic,
And from there on it wasn’t far north.

As Christmas grew nearer and nearer,
So Boo journeyed on to the end,
And Sammy grew yet more excited,
To learn what he’d get from his friend.

As dawn broke on Christmas Day morning,
Sammy could not wait to see,
Had Boo Bear succeeded his mission?
What would there be under the tree?

But just then he noticed his stocking,
Right there at the end of his bed,
And poking right out of the top,
Was a tattered teddy bear head.

The head was dirty and soggy,
And matted with leaves and mud too,
But Sammy jumped up in amazement,
For that teddy bear head was his Boo!

With care he took Boo from the stocking,
And gently he shook off some dirt,
Then Sammy saw something intriguing,
A letter was pinned to Boo’s shirt!

Sammy unpinned it with caution,
And opened it there on the bed,
The note was signed “Boo” at the bottom,
And following is what it said:

“I’ve travelled the world to the Arctic,
And what an adventure I’ve had,
I met with the reindeer and Santa,
But now that I’m home I’m quite glad.”

Well Sammy could not quite believe it,
The bear was back home safe and well,
And as to all of Boo’s secrets,
Sadly the bear wouldn’t tell.

Now Boo and the boy are quite happy,
They travel around having fun,
And as for the bear and his letters,
Since then there hasn’t been one.

Poem of the Day

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Party at Luna Park

by Jenny Erlanger

 

The party was great.

I’ve got so much to tell

but I can’t do it now,

I’m not feeling too well.

I don’t want to chuck

but I know that I will.

Is it something I ate

that is making me ill?

The frankfurts and sauce

can’t have made me feel bad.

The ten that I ate

were the best that I’ve had.

And it wasn’t the chips

that I had as a snack

as we all raced around

on the dodgem car track.

It might have been what

I was drinking instead,

that bottle of stuff

that was fizzy and red

that I drank when my mouth

was all dried up inside

after screaming so much

on the Gravitron ride.

Or could it have been

what I had as a treat,

something I’ve wanted

forever to eat,

that mountain of fairy floss

stuck to a stick?

Quick, pass me the bucket,

I’m going to be sick.

First published in “Giggles and Niggles” (Haddington Press, 2007)

Interview with Neridah McMullin

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NM Bio Pic 1

 “I truly love the freedom of free verse and the way some writers put their words together. It’s beautiful, they’re vibrant and visceral. Close your eyes and you’re there.”

– Neridah McMullin

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

I’ve always enjoyed poetry. As I child I would recite Australian Bush Poetry at family gatherings, in particular Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson. My grandmother loved A Bush Christening which I still know by heart.

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

Not much really. A bit of bush poetry, I remember doing The Lady of Shallot by Tennyson (it was rather long…I still don’t know what it was about?)

Did you write poetry as a child?

I did dabble in it. I wrote more in secondary school. I had two inspiring English teachers at Hamilton & Alexandra College. You never forget a good teacher (thank you, John Mazur and Neil McLean). And I wrote more poetry again in my twenties. Everyone laughed at me and I lost my confidence. I squirreled them away in a deep, dark place in my desk. My mother tells me now that she was laughing at what I’d written about; not at my writing. Mum’s my greatest supporter. She proof reads all my work.

When was your first poem published?

My first poem was published by the NSW School Magazine in 2009. It was called In the Woolshed.

Who are some poets whose writing you love?

I enjoy all poetry but I truly love the freedom of free verse and the way some writers put their words together. It’s beautiful, they’re vibrant and visceral. Close your eyes and you’re there.

I still love Australian Bush Poetry. I really enjoy Stephen Whiteside. Les Murray. Eva Johnson. I love Elizabeth Honey, Lorraine Marwood, Kathryn Apel and Steven Herrick’s work. I also love the work of Sheryl Clark, Corinne Fenton, Claire Saxby, Janeen Brian and Meredith Costain. The list could go on and on, we have wonderful Australian poets.

Have you had any poetry writing mentors?

Well, I have poetry buddies. January this year I participated in a ‘Month of Poetry’ with Kat Apel and we wrote a poem every day of January. We had poetry challenges on Saturdays and critiqued each other. It was a wonderful experience. I’ve made lots of friends through MoP and we are regularly in touch.

What inspires you to write poetry?

Everything around me. Moments. Moments that people think are just every day, boring stuff. I only have to stop and look around me to see something that inspires me. But I do have favourite subjects: sport, the farm, the outback, animals, the sea, my garden, funny little kids.

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

A visual image (of a ‘moment’). Then I collect a bank of words (thanks, Lorraine Marwood, for teaching me this) and when I’m happy with my collection of lovely, delicious words, I’ll write a poem, with that image in my mind the entire time.

Do you workshop your poems with anyone?

Yes, my MoP group.

How do you know a poem you write is finished?

When I can make no more changes to it. If I’m unhappy with it, I’ll stop and ask myself ‘What am I really trying to say?’

How do you know a poem is ‘good’?

Good poetry is effortless, it will speak to you and make you laugh or cry.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I love your website, keep up the great work promoting Australian Children’s Poetry.

 

My Nest

by Neridah McMullin

I live in my nest,

Made from twigs,

Mud,

And wool.

I stole the wool,

From a loose thread,

Of a red jumper,

Dancing on the breeze,

Of a creaky hills hoist.

It unravelled,

At the first pluck.

And the now the human,

That lives here,

Wears it still…

As a midriff top.

Poem of the Day

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DEAR UNCLE WALLY

by Allan Cropper

When dear Uncle Wally slips off his shoes
Warnings go out on the six o’clock news
The smell is so bad that you might like to choose…
To sneak out and just run away.
 

When dear Uncle Wally takes off his socks
It sets off alarm bells and stops all the clocks
They ought to be burned or else locked in a box
And then taken far far away.

When dear Uncle Wally wriggles his toes
You can see as the fungal bacteria grows
Does he wash his toes? I guess nobody knows
I pray that he’ll wash them today.

When dear Uncle Wally rubs at his feet
The smell it emits is like old rotting meat
The air freshener spray can hardly compete
With that sweaty foot odour bouquet.

Pooh!!!

Poem of the Day

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Silverfish

by Helen Hagemann

Not as lucky as a Las Vegas dollar
nor as silver,
but if you look inside panelled rooms
there may be several silverfish
touring endlessly in the house of a miser
or in one of those 19th century cottages
where the rain soaks North Somerset,
bookshelves covered in trench coats.

You know that silverfish chew into glue,
plaster, paint, photos, sugar, coffee,
hair, carpet, clothing, dandruff,
book bindings and paper (and that’s
a lot to get through in a week!)

Imagine one slippery silverfish
in a musty library of a French poet
travelling through paragraphs of Reverdy,
John Donne, Simone De Beauvoir or Sartre,
his hunger moving toward simile and speech,
words curling into little white ropes
and lifting from the page,
one letter at a time.