“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.
by Neridah McMullin
I live in my nest,
Made from twigs,
I stole the wool,
From a loose thread,
Of a red jumper,
Dancing on the breeze,
Of a creaky hills hoist.
At the first pluck.
And the now the human,
That lives here,
Wears it still…
As a midriff top.