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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.

 

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Poem of the Day

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Wrecked!

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 –

SPORT IS GOOD FOR YOU!

 

Poem of the Day

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A FROG ON A LOG

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

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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

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Not Out

by N. McMullin

 

Facing.

The Bowler,

Streaks in.

Long limbed,

Powerful.

With intent, he glares at me.

 

Sweating.

Under my helmet.

I tap my bat.

Raised.

Ready.

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.

HOWZAT!

 

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

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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!