More time

Leave a comment

Competition deadline extended

Good news for those of you ran out of time to enter the Kathleen Julia Bates Memorial Writing Competition, due to close today. The deadline has been extended to August 15. First prize is $150 and every entrant will receive feedback from the judge, so it’s well worth entering your poem for children. Full details are here.


Poem of the Day



by Jill McDougall


I’ve scraped the skin

From off my chin,

My arms and legs are grazed,

My elbow’s sprained,

My ankle’s maimed,

I’m feeling kind of dazed.


I’ve crunched my neck,

My knee’s a wreck,

My fingers curl like claws,

My dental work

Has gone berserk

And jammed up both my jaws.


My eyes are black,

My nose is red,

My lips are turning blue –

So tell me why

The teachers cry –



Poem of the Day



by Allan Cropper

A frog

a frog on a log

a frog on a log with a bag full of sticks

a frog on a log with a bag full of tricks

a frog

a magical frog

a mystical frog

a wave

a wave of a stick

a wave of a stick from his bag full of tricks

a wave of a wand from his bag full of sticks

a fog

a magical fog

a mystical fog

a mist

a mist on a pond

a mystical fog on a frog on a log

a frog on a log was no longer a frog

a frog on a log had turned into a dog

a dog

a magical dog

a mystical dog

a dog

a dog not a frog

a dog, not a frog, on a log in a fog

a dog not a frog with a bag full of sticks

a dog not a frog with a bag full of tricks

a wave

a wave of a stick

a wave of a stick from his bag full of tricks

a wave of a wand from his bag full of sticks

a smog

a magical smog

a mystical smog

a twist

a twist of a tail

a magical smog and the pond was a bog

a dog not a frog was no longer a dog

a dog not a frog had turned into a hog

a hog

a magical hog

a mystical hog

a hog

a hog not a dog

a hog not a frog

a hog in a bog

a hog not a dog or a frog on a log

a hog in a bog not a dog or a frog

a magical hog with a bag full of sticks

a magical hog with a bag full of tricks

An interview with Nadine Cranenburgh


Reading and writing should be enjoyable. If you enjoy a book or poem, share it with as many people as you can. If you want to write poetry, you should. You don’t have to show your poems to anyone, or send them to be published, but putting your thoughts and feelings into a few well chosen words can help to record important moments, or whittle huge emotions down to a manageable size. – Nadine Cranenburgh


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

I was lucky to grow up in a house full of books with parents who were great readers. As a kid I loved Robert Louis Stephenson and AA Milne, as well as the legendary Dr Seuss. All rhyming poets, which is probably why I am such a rhymer myself! Reading poetry is so important, it teaches you to make images out of feelings, which is a good way of dealing with big emotions.

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

The only poem I remember studying at school was one about football in year nine or ten, which I didn’t like very much. I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t a very attentive student, and spent most of my time daydreaming. I did memorise poetry that I read in my own time – Disobedience by AA Milne and The Highwayman are two which come to mind, which gives you an idea of what my poor teachers were up against.

Did you write poetry as a child?

Yes, I still have a booklet full of texta illustrated haiku about apples, cats and other fun things that I think my mum used to get me to work on to keep me busy when I was quite little. Also some lovelorn sonnets and very emotional and unpolished scribbles from my teenage years which I will never, ever show anybody! I didn’t think of poetry as something to be shared or published until quite recently, it was always very personal.

When was your first poem published?

My first poem to be published in print was one I wrote for adults in free verse, which appeared in page seventeen magazine last year and was also shortlisted in their annual competition. This was a bit of a surprise as most of the poems I write are rhyming and for kids! I’m also waiting for one of my poems to appear in an upcoming issue of Ladybug magazine in the US. Before these successes I had some interesting experiences. My first acceptance for publication was from an online children’s site, but the publisher had to stop maintaining the site for personal reasons before my poem went up. I also had a rhyming picture book accepted by a small publisher, but that also fell through. What these experiences taught me was that while it is wonderful to have someone like your work enough to want to publish it, you shouldn’t make this your only goal – it isn’t something you can control. Sites like Australian Children’s Poetry are also a great way of getting poems out to readers (thank you) as are Sally Odger’s Prints Charming anthologies. If you make your poems as good as they can be, and are patient and proactive, you will find a way to get them out into the world if that is what you want.

Who are some poets whose writing you love?

Some I have mentioned above. I also love Lorraine Marwood, particularly her verse novel Star Jumps, Claire Saxby for her clever word play and Michael Rosen and Julia Donaldson for individuality and brilliance.

Have you had any poetry writing mentors?

I’ve been very grateful to wonderful rhymer Jackie Hosking for her encouragement and advice on the poetry publishing landscape. She was a guest speaker in my Children’s Writing course quite a few years ago, and came armed with a list of publishers who accepted children’s poetry. That list made me realise that I could send my poetry out to be published, which was something I’d never considered before. Jackie also has a rhyming editing service, and a newsletter about children’s publishing, Pass it On, which I highly recommend.

What inspires you to write poetry?

I’m mostly a rhyming poet, so I’m attracted to rhythms and music in words. Usually there will be a phrase, an image or feeling that is bouncing along in my head, and it needs to find a rhythm or rhyme that fits it before it goes any further. Often the first three or four lines come to me and I fiddle around with them in my imagination and speak them aloud before writing them down. My kids are usually supportive of this poetic babbling, but sometimes ask if I will go somewhere else so they can have some peace.

Do you workshop your poems with anyone?

I’m a big fan of workshopping, it really helps me gain the confidence to send poems out to readers. I have some trusted workshopping buddies that I’ve met during writing courses and mentorships. I know they understand my work and will give me constructive advice to make it better. It is really important to workshop with the right people. Usually I don’t workshop anything until I’ve done many drafts and just need a test audience to make sure it works for others as well as me! Recently I have also participated in some online events including Kat Apel’s Month of Poetry and Rhyming Picture Book Month, and I’ve now got specific poetry workshopping groups too.

How do you know a poem you write is finished?

A difficult question! For rhyming poems, they need to be able to be read by a wide range of readers without tripping over the rhythms, so I get my long suffering partner to road test them for me. But I also think that the poem’s theme needs to be clear, whether it is rhyming or not. This can sometimes be very tricky, and is a unique process for each poem. Workshopping can help!

How do you know a poem is ‘good’?

Another hard question… I think value judgements about poetry, and all creative writing, are very subjective. There are many writing skills and techniques that you can analyse and learn, but ultimately a ‘good’ poem for me is one that makes me feel something or gives me a new perspective on a subject. In terms of judging my own poems, I think they get better over many drafts and through workshopping. Even then, I accept that not everyone will enjoy them, and that’s fine.

Join the dots


Dot to dot, spot to spot

1, 2, 3 – what have we got?


Pricked up ears with pointy tips

then the eyes and nose and lips


Dot to dot, spot to spot

4, 5, 6 – I’m running hot


Outstretched paw, thick sausage tail,

springy feet to leap and sail


Dot to dot spot to spot

7, 8 – the final jot…


Puffed out chest, another paw,

roomy pouch to hold one more


Dot to dot, spot to spot

9 and 10 – can you guess what?

Nadine Cranenburgh


Behind glass

My mother hitched a sac of hopes high in her final tree
then as her gentle light dimmed out, a cloud of parachutes skimmed out
they whirled and wafted, wheeled about
and one of them was me

I watch my sisters weave their webs and send a voiceless plea
Inside my prison staring out, my silent treaties blaring out
I clamber, crawl and climb about
Why won’t you set me free?

Nadine Cranenburgh


Poem of the Day


Not Out

by N. McMullin



The Bowler,

Streaks in.

Long limbed,


With intent, he glares at me.



Under my helmet.

I tap my bat.



Fixated on the Bowler’s hand.


An Umpire,

Yawns behind,

Darkened sunglasses.

Bored. Daydreaming.

A seagull cries

From the boundary.


The red ball,

Careers down.

An inside edge.

Caught by the Keeper.

They call for it.



The Umpire.

Stands motionless.

I feign innocence.

He hasn’t heard it.

No finger is raised.

And I silently thank the seagull.






Poem of the Day


No School Today

by Jill McDougall


Don’t make me go to school today,

Please! Anything but that!

I’ll tidy up my bedroom,

I’ll be gentle with the cat…


I’ll do the dishes for a week,

(I’ll soak the saucepans too),

But please don’t make me go to school –

That place is like a zoo.


The kids are really mean to me,

They call me nasty names

Like ‘legend in a lunch box’ when

I interrupt their games.


And when they see me coming,

They spread out like peanut paste,

I feel like I’m some fungal growth,

Some noxious toxic waste.


So please don’t make me go to school,

I’ll sulk and whine and sob,

So WHAT if I’m the Principal!

I want a different job!

News update

Leave a comment

Giving Voice 

Jacqueline Woodson, the new young people’s UK poet laureate, gives an interview here on why poetry is a party everyone is invited to. Jacqueline Woodson article

 A chance to submit

It would be great to have some Australian poems included in these anthologies.


The clock is ticking to the deadline for entries in the 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. First prize: $150. Closing date June 30. Full details here.

Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards
Closing date 30 June

This annual poetry competition for school-aged children will also close at the end of the month. 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.

2015 Toolangi CJ Dennis Poetry Competition

Closing date 7 September

The aim of the competition is to encourage the activity of writing which celebrates the work of CJ Dennis and relates to Australia’s history, activities, environment and personalities. There are various categories, including one for a poem written by an adult for children. For full details and an entry form, click here.

Poems wanted

Please keep submissions of poetry coming in for the Poem of the Day. Your submissions are much appreciated and I’m enjoying them immensely. 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

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.

Poem of the Day


The Lighthouse

By Neridah McMullan


She stands tall,


Stoic and true.


And unwavering.

Carved basalt steps,

A salt encrusted,

Red door,

With a rusty lock.

Up curved, spiral stairs,

A French Fresnal,

Lens flashes,

Guiding ships,

Away from rocks,

And rips.

Bitter maelstrom,

Blustering galeforce.

To the Lighthouse!

The Lighthouse –

If only you knew,

You saved me

And my crew.

Poem of the Day

Leave a comment

Crusader Beetle

by Helen Hagemann


She is not the Japanese beetle

who devastates rows of basil plants;


that brown and black fellow chomping

circles in your garden spaghetti herbs.


She is not elongated, black and lemon-tipped

like Soldier beetle who swarms in number


spring and summer; gardeners anxious they’re

plaguing Melbourne. Crusader beetle is not


bejeweled in topaz, emerald or sapphire

like Jewel beetle. Nor is she the roller


of poop like Dung beetle, ready to squeeze

her offspring inside (like famous Alexander


Beetle’s matchbox) reducing methane as she

dillies away on a cow pat in less than twenty-four


hours. No! Crusader beetle is neither of these,

but a “Joan of Arc” carrying her bannered symbol


on a bluish back. A cross in clear salute, as if

she is proud of her history, out there warring


against predators, her pink and grey feelers

tapping out miles travelled between home and


Acacia bloom, wing-pads blazoned with that

repellent X, proliferating Indonesia, the Indo-

Pacific, or at home, her hind femur and inner
teeth ready to slay Australia’s backyard weeds.