Much of my childhood was spent on seventy thousand acres of saltbush plain; I was lucky to have a family of story tellers and yarn-spinners who knew the ballads of Paterson, Lawson, Ogilvie and others and quoted them freely. I can’t remember learning to read or to ride: ponies and poetry were part of my life `-and I had free range of the bookcase.
Correspondence School lessons began when I was seven and then boarding school with an eye-opening library and where I was fortunate to have sympathetic English and Art teachers. My first poem was published while I was still at school — and I believe I have become a reasonable print-maker.
Later I went on to write for various literary magazines. I still write for adults too, but a chance meeting with Lilith Norman, then editor of the NSW Department of Education School Magazine, took me along another track. I am still published in that journal. My own sons have praised, criticised, suggested and happily shared as I write.
Over the years, I have had the fun of workshopping poetry with children, which has been a delight. I went regularly to Canberra for that city’s lively celebration of Book Week, conducting workshops and introducing children to poetry.
I live at Gunnedah and have a continued interest in the Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Competition, a long running competition for children, which has its roots in this town. I hope that maybe just one child will find the joy and comfort `in poetry, either reading or writing it, that I have. I firmly believe there is a human need for this form of literature. Workshops and incidental meetings always unearth many “cupboard” poets, writing to crystallise their emotions and reactions to the world around them. I am frequently asked to define poetry and it is Dylan Thomas who helps me out with his definition that, amongst other things, poetry made his “toe-nails twinkle “.
In a never-too-easy world, the rhythms, images ,visions and communications of poetry lead us to its pleasures and to understanding – and to twinkling toe-nails.
In 2003 my book Muster me a Song (Triple D Books) was short-listed for the NSW Premier’s Prize (The Patricia Wrightson Prize) and was named a Notable Book by the CBCA.
Wind on your Face was a poem published as a picture book illustrated by Kate Burness some years ago (Collins).
Children’s anthologies containing my work (These titles span from 1967 to the present day):
Diversions (Methuen); Songs for All Seasons (Angus and Robertson); A Second Australian Poetry Book (Oxford); It Must Have Been Summer (Oxford); Read for the Fun of It (H.W. Wilson USA); Christmas Crackers (Omnibus); Poetry is What (Cheshire); Occasions (Blackie UK);
What a Wonderful World (Lion USA and UK; Apples from Hurricane Street (Methuen); Someone is Flying Balloons (Omnibus); Rattling in the Wind (Omnibus); The Pickled Boeing (Children’s Medical Research);Words Aloud (Guildhall School of Music and Drama UK); Call of the Sea (Longman); Australian Poems for Young People (Random);
Small Worlds (Thomas Nelson); Stay Loose, Mother Goose (Omnibus); The Performers Anthology (Janus UK); Celebrate (Triple D Books); Pardon my Garden (Angus and Robertson); Sing in Bright Colours (Westbooks); Beetle Soup (Scholastic. Republished as And the Roo Jumped Over the Moon); Kaleidoscope 2 (Heinemann Educational Australia)
My email is Anne Knight <email@example.com>
Postal Address: P.O.Box 196 Gunnedah NSW 2380
See how it comforts the sad things,
strokes old posts that lean against the years
clothes dead trees with a memory of leaves
and gently hides bare earth.
And it softens the sharp things,
blunts barbs, scarfs, prying eyes
muffles too-loud sounds.
Then in a wink it’s gone –
and the day shines bright and calm and clear.
© Anne Bell
This is the wind that kites the birds
and snaps the strings;
that twangs a harp of telephone wires
and tugs at gutters and eaves;
kicks timpani tins down hurrying streets,
then tries on hats that never fit
and frisbees them away.
It billows the ancient cloth of the sky
and changes the order of stars;
it tousles the heads of adventurous trees
that pull at the anxious earth.
Even the very rocks leap up
and somersault through the grass.
Oh, slam your doors if you must, my friends,
and close your windows fast –
I’m going out to find the wind
and ask where it blew my heart.
© Anne Bell
Hey you in there –
come out and see if the world’s still here.
Let’s catch the day while it’s still brand-new,
and romp and roll in the grass and dew.
Don’t want to roll? Well, that’s a shame.
I will though, if it’s all the same.
You needn’t put your nose to the ground –
I’ll tell you about the things I’ve found.
The cats both need some exercise
(if it worries you, just close your eyes).
I promise tomorrow I’ll be good,
and obey the rules you say I should:
I’ll come like a rocket when you call,
I won’t pretend to be deaf at all,
I’ll be a model dog, you’ll see –
you probably won’t even recognise me.
I’ll be so perfectly quiet and still,
you’ll wonder if I’m feeling ill.
I’ll walk so beautifully by your side’
your heart will swell with joy and pride.
I’ll be so gentle and so sweet
and sit like a statue at your feet.
But just for now,
COME ON !
© Anne Bell