Poem of the Day


The Moomins

 by Virginia Lowe


Rebecca had a book about

The Moomins young and old,

So she took it to her mother

And the story she was told

Of Snuffkin Sniff and Moomintroll

And the Hobgoblin’s Hat

Hattifattiners and Hemul

Snork Maiden and Muskrat.


When that book was finished

(Many chapters, and all long)

She took her pocket money

And went shopping with a song.

She bought a new red plastic case

Then found to her delight

That she could buy another book

To start that very night!


In this one Sniff (Rebecca)

Heard of comets and a cave

Discovered long mysterious paths

And with crocodiles was brave.

When this book too was finished ‑

As all good books must be ‑

We re‑read umpteen chapters

Till saved by the Tooth Fair‑y.


Who left a useful thirty cents

(And also dropped the tooth).

So to the Sunflower after school

They went, to find the truth

About Moomintroll’s new journeys

And where has Snuffkin gone?

Moominsummer Madness

Will fill evenings from now on.



Making poetry accessible


Sally SmallIn this recent Poetry Friday post, award-winning Australian author Sally Murphy urges teachers to share and enjoy classic and contemporary poetry with kids.

Poetry Friday: Tyger Tyger and the Importance of Pleasure


I’ve spent quite a bit of time lately writing and speaking about children’s poetry and the challenges of getting poetry in front of children, especially in Australia where very little children’s poetry is published. One of the things I keep saying is that kids need accessible poetry, and that we must be sure to include contemporary poetry in our offerings.

BUT, that doesn’t mean that I think we should only offer contemporary poetry, just as it isn’t necessary to only offer contemporary fiction. It’s just that when we offer classic poetry, we need to be sure that it is accessible to readers. One of the problems is that too often we offer poetry with difficult language and then too quickly ask what the poem means. My strong feeling is that, modern or classic, our first point of discussion for any poem should be about how it makes the reader feel, rather than about what it means.  The pleasure, the physical response, the emotions aroused, the confusion are all so much for important than knowing exactly what it’s about (and a good poem should not be about just one thing anyway).

So, take for example this old favourite of mine:

Tyger Tyger

by William Blake

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,

In the forests of the night;

What immortal hand or eye,

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.

Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand, dare seize the fire?

(you can read the rest of the poem here)

Woah. There are some big words (immortal symmetry?). There are some very old words (thine, thy?). There is a word with funny spelling (tyger). And there are some words which don’t rhyme as we pronounce them today (eye/symmetry). And yet when I read it, I can imagine a beautiful, big, fearsome looking tiger, and can tingle with pleasure at the rhythm and flow of the lines. And, if I read it aloud to (or even better with) children, I give them the chance to share that pleasure. If instead, I print it out, give to to kids and ask them what it means, many eyes would glaze over, and hearts sink at the difficult language and the quest for a right answer.

My point? If you’re a teacher – don’t be scared to share poetry with kids. Share classics like this one. Share contemporary poetry too. But share it. Enjoy it. Savour it. If you must take it apart to look at meanings or poetic devices, do that AFTER you have had time to enjoy the poem. The child who has enjoyed the poem will find the seeking of meaning a whole lot easier.

(Original post re-blogged with permission)

Poem of the Day



by Jill McDougall


I’d like to be (if you’ll agree)

Away today, Ms Hall,

Please carry on as if I’ve gone,

Like I’m not here at all.


And while you’re teaching nouns and verbs,

And all those tricky spelling words,

I’ll play computer games ‘til bell,

And eat a bag of crisps as well.


Then during Silent Reading, Miss,

I’ll decorate your hair,

With little silver metal clips,

And glued bits everywhere.


A touch of orange texta,

And a safety pin or two,

Will soon improve your love life, Miss,

Coz punk’s the look for you!


So Miss …

I’ll be  away today,

I’m sure you’ll say

that that’s okay,

Just carry on

please teacher dear,

You’ll hardly notice

I’m not here.


Poem of the Day



by Monty Edwards

Way out west, where willows weep

By creek beds cracked and dry,

A mail tin stands atop a post

Beneath a cloudless sky.

The homestead sits behind a hill:

The mail tin far from view, 

But there, round ten, a song is heard

And you may sing it too.

   It’s time to put the billy on.

          It’s time to fetch the mail!

   It’s time to catch a kangaroo

          And swing it by its tail!

How is it that the farmer’s wife

Can sing this silly song?

She sounds so sure the mail has come,

But what if she is wrong?

The farmhands stop, lay down their tools.

The youngest mounts his horse.

He rides away toward the road

To get the mail, of course!

  It’s time to put the billy on.

          It’s time to fetch the mail!

   It’s time to catch a kangaroo

          And swing it by its tail!

The farmer’s wife saw rising dust.

She heard the rumbling truck.

Her eyes and ears said: “There’s the mail!”

It wasn’t just good luck.


Now years have passed. The mail tin’s gone

That stood through heat and hail.

Not once they caught a kangaroo,

Nor swung it by its tail!

  • Submitted in response to Words+Pictures #4    TIME_MG_0194

News update

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Writing poetry for children

Looking for some pointers on writing poems for children? This excellent article looks at what children like in poems and where to get ideas for content and form. http://www.freelancewriting.com/articles/FF-writing-poetry-for-children.php

Classical Poems for Children

What makes a poem a classic? Reading the poems that have survived the test of time might not provide the answer but certainly makes for interesting reading. Check out this collection by poets such as Christina Rossetti, Robert Louis Stevenson and Edward Lear. http://storyit.com/Classics/JustPoems/


  • DOROTHEA2016The 2015 Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards competition for students received 9852 poems from 655 schools. Winners have been announced. Visit here for full details.  Planning for the 2016 competition is now underway. The optional theme has been approved as ‘Waiting’ and the competition will run from 1 March to 30 June.


  • Somerset National Poetry Prize

Open to Australian secondary students under 19 years of age

Closing Date 11 December

Do you know a young person with a flair for writing poetry? This competition is being held in conjunction with the Somerset Celebration of Literature 2016. Its purpose is to encourage a love of writing poetry amongst secondary school students, to affirm it as a worthwhile literary pursuit and to stimulate excellence in writing. It also has the aim of inspiring and enriching youth literature. Category prizes of $300 plus flights to attend the festival. Full details here.

Poetry pointers

To rhyme or not to rhyme?

Where do you get ideas? How do you write a poem? Do poems have to rhyme? What makes it a poem if it doesn’t rhyme? Who publishes poetry? How do I become a children’s poet? What is your top tip for writers who want to write poetry for children?

These are among the myriad questions asked by writers who want to write poetry. How would you answer them? If you have a poetry pointer to share, email me at traffa-m@bigpond.net.au

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 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, poetry book reviews and relevant articles.

Poem of the Day

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Cloudless skies

By Sioban Timmer


I lift a hand up to my eyes

While scuffing shoes and shooing flies

Watching the heat cloud wave and rise

As I journey under cloudless skies


The path is long to our home gate

The only traffic, trucks and freight

Frustrating if the mail is late

Meaning yet another day to wait


But not today, I have no fear

I sense it as I’m drawing near

That in that box, with address clear

Today I know, my book is here


Unwrapping it, the cover cold

Embossed with letters nice and bold

What tales are waiting to be told?

What new adventures will unfold?


I lift my hand up to my eyes

Now flying feet and fleeing flies

Watching the heat cloud wave and rise

As I journey under cloudless skies.


  • Submitted in response to Words+Pictures #4



Poem of the Day

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A Fairy’s Warning

by Bridh Hancock
A response to William Allingham’s ‘The Fairies’


On the misty mountain, in the gloomy glen,

You dare not go a rambling for fear of ‘little men’,

‘Cause we are bad folk, mad folk. Avoid us all together,

In green cape and red cap and with a purple peregrine’s feather.


Near the rocky sea shore some of us make our abode.

We live on sweet, fresh sea-food cooked on the high tide’s load.

Some live among the reed beds of a chilly mountain lake,

With a hundred noisy watch-frogs; and oh what rest they take!


Humans say we steal their young; ha! We have kids of our own.

What’s the point of having yet more troubles in our home?

We wish humans all were happy, and knew how to behave,

‘Cause if they all were as us, then our world would be safe.

Along the craggy hill-side where mosses all lie bare,

We have planted gorse-bush to keep humans out of there.

If any man so daring should dig them up in spite,

He shall find far sharper thorns in his bed that night.


On the misty mountain, in the gloomy glen,

You dare not go a rambling for fear of ‘little men’,

‘Cause we are bad folk, mad folk, and our women are far worse.

Should you but cross them, then we shall hear you curse.


(Let William Allingham apologise to us.)


Poem of the Day


Forty Four Gallon Drum

by Virginia Lowe



The cricket ball

hits the make-shift wicket

The shout arises


The kids leap about

except the batsman

who hands on the bat

to the next street kid

female this time


Blackberry canes

pour over the edge

The juicy purple fruit

within reach

without prickles


Post cards and fliers

junk mail and love letters

magazines and bills

all drop in

Even an isolated

farm in the country

can’t escape

the tyranny of

the mail


In times past

forty-four gallon drums


in continuing utility

* Submitted in response to Words+Pictures #4



Words+Pictures #4

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Photo by Neil Mulligan


Are you up for a creative challenge? Occasionally I post a picture plus a word. They might – or might not – have any connection. Then it’s over to you to write a poem for children inspired by the word and picture. Send your poem to me at traffa-m(at)bigpond.net.au and I’ll post a selection to feature as Poem of the Day.

Today’s picture was taken at Narrogin in Western Australia where I recently presented a writing workshop. We drove through farm country and this wonderfully Aussie letterbox caught my photographer husband’s eye. I’m interested in seeing what you come up with in response to this combination of Word+Picture.


Poem of the Day

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A Goat Afloat

by Pat Simmons


I wear a silver collar, I’m a rather special goat.

Hooves firmly planted on the ground, but once I was afloat.


‘A goat afloat?’ I hear you say. It’s true. Ask Captain Cook.

Twice I’ve sailed around the world.

I’d like to write a book


Memoirs of my life at sea

Jottings by a goat

The good the bad the ugly facts

Of life upon a boat


Well, all right, ships

Let’s get it right


Dolphin and Endeavour

And with respect, I must say this,

I really hope I never set hoof again on either one.

Three years was long enough.

Giving milk for all that time quite frankly dears was tough.


Smelly sheep and smelly hens, smelly cattle too

Smelly cats and smelly dogs

And very smelly crew.

Snow and storms and slippery decks, fresh grass in short supply.

No other goats to chatter with to help the time pass by.

But now I’m home and quite well known

(My story’s in the press)

Enjoying my retirement, free from stormy seas and stress.


I wear a silver collar, I’m a rather special goat.

Hooves firmly planted on the ground, but once I was afloat.