Spreading the word

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ABC Local radio – a greatly under-utilised resource?

by Stephen Whiteside

I was very excited when my collection of rhyming verse/bush poetry for children, The Billy That Died With Its Boots On and Other Australian Verse was published by Walker Books in May last year. Walker did a beautiful job of putting the book together, and I felt confident that it would do well.

However, I was a little disappointed with what I felt was a lack of publicity. I made my own efforts, and did manage to secure an interview on ABC Local radio in Melbourne (774) on a Monday afternoon during the school holidays, but that was about it.

Then, when the book won a Golden Gumleaf for Book of the Year at the Australian Bush Laureate Awards during the Tamworth Country Music Festival in January this year, I realised I had the ‘hook’ I needed. It was particularly gratifying – and of interest to the media – that a book for children had won an award that is ostensibly an award for books for adults.

I decided to target ABC Local radio once again and, again, my home town, Melbourne came through. I secured an interview with Libby Gorr on a Sunday morning. However, I had no success with the other capital cities.

It then occurred to me that my natural constituency, given that the book was ‘bush verse’, was probably rural and regional Australia. With this in mind, I began to approach some of the smaller ABC Local radio stations. I quickly struck gold.

As a general rule, responses fell into one of three categories.

  1. The presenter loved bush poetry, and pounced on the opportunity to interview. (This happened a couple of times.)
  1. The station had no interest in the book unless I was visiting their town, which I wasn’t. (This also happened quite a few times.)
  1. The station was interested in the book, but needed some local connection with the book to justify an interview. This also happened on quite a number of occasions, and was where the challenge began.

I secured a state-wide interview in Ballarat by explaining the history of my various ancestors in rural Victoria. I secured an interview in south west Queensland by discussing the influence of Banjo Paterson on my work. (Paterson wrote Waltzing Matilda in this part of Australia.) I secured a couple of interviews in South Australia by discussing the influence of CJ Dennis on my work. (Dennis was born in South Australia, and lived there as a child and young adult.) I have secured an interview in Albany, Western Australia, by explaining that there are poems about whales in the book. (We will do the interview as soon as the whales arrive!) I have also secured an interview in Tamworth, because that is where I won the award.

I should add that all of these interviews (13 now in total) have been conducted without my leaving Melbourne. A few have been live, but most were pre-recorded. Most have been conducted on my mobile phone. I attended the ABC Soutbank Studios for the interview with Libby Gorr.

Of particular interest was the Ballarat interview, where I was placed in a ‘Tardis’ in Southbank. These are highly sophisticated studios that allow the interviewee to sound as though they are in the same studio as the interviewer, even though they may be many miles away.

My favourite interviews have been with the smallest stations in far off corners of this huge continent. The interviewers tend to be more passionate, the interviews longer, and the questions more interesting.

Do any of these interviews sell books? I don’t know, and I probably never will. I cannot see how they could do any harm, however, and they are great fun. Of course, the number of people listening to these programmes is likely to be less than with the large metropolitan stations, but there is nothing to be done about that.

My own feeling is that these smaller rural and regional ABC Local radio stations are a highly valuable and probably greatly under-utilised resource for authors trying to sell their books.

Poem of the Day

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                 The Yarn of Shaun the Sheep

Two Tasmanian farmers have found what they hope to prove is the world’s woolliest sheep. They believe it has been wandering wild for six years and never been shorn.

Peter and Netty Hazell discovered the animal, nicknamed Shaun, wandering on their farm and decided to take him in.

You ought to hear the yarn the folks are spinning

now the news is out both far and wide

about the Tassie wonder from down-under –

our Shaun the Sheep, the nation’s woolly pride.

 

Now Shaun was just a lamb six years ago

when fire came blazing near his eastern farm

and Shaun thought “Yikes! It’s time to do a runner.

If I stay put I’m sure to come to harm.”

 

So off he went to wander through the mountains

and live a lonesome life beneath the trees.

He didn’t fancy staying to be roasted.

He thought the better option was to freeze.

 

But no, he didn’t freeze. His woolly fleece

grew thicker by the day as he went west

and Shaun the Sheep became a walking doona

(a first-rate one – merino at its best).

 

and as the days and months and years went by

that fleece became so big it swallowed Shaun.

But then it chanced that Pete and Netty Hazell

were driving in their ute one autumn morn

 

and saw that fleece – or was it someone’s doona? –

abandoned in a hedge beyond the road.

They went to have a look. The doona bleated.

“Hey Pete! There’s something living in this load!”

 

Then sure enough they saw that doona move.

And as these folks were kind and tender-hearted

they took the creature home to sort it out,

and since that day the three have not been parted.

 

For Shaun the Sheep has learnt to live in style

and changed his name to Shaun the Superstar,

for Shaun was shorn and now he is a legend.

That fleece of his is famous near and far.

 

The Aussie owners say his wool is destined

to make at least three jumpers – superfine.

But if you check what’s told around the campfires

you’ll find an even better story-line.

 

It seems that in that famous Aussie fleece

there lurks a kind of magic super-power

and like a certain Aussie magic pudding

it keeps on growing bigger by the hour.

 

The latest count is now at thirty-five

new woolly garments! Now do you suppose

that yarn could make (if someone keeps on spinning)

the right stuff for an emperor’s new clothes?

 

© Kate O’neil

 

 

 

Poem of the Day

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The oyster way

 

An irritating grain of sand

or pesky piece of grit,

it slips inside the oyster shell

and finds a place to sit.

 

The oyster greets the irksome pest,

confronts it face to face,

bestows it with a soft caress,

a silky, smooth embrace.

 

How wonderful our lives could be,

how great for me and you

if we could tackle obstacles

the way the oysters do.

 

We’d gather all those gritty bits

that grind in vicious swirls

then smooth and sculpture each in turn

to shape a string of pearls.

 

 

©  Jenny Erlanger

 

Poem of the Day

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The House that Never Sleeps

 

Our house is a blinking one,

A winking, ever-thinking one,

At night when all the work is done,

Our house is standing by.

 

The laptop light is pulsing white

In case it’s needed in the night

To play a game or book a flight,

It’s always standing by.

 

The bright light on the video

Is glowing green, all set to go,

In case we want to watch a show,

It’s always standing by.

 

The red lights on the Xbox E,

The microwave, the smart TV,

All stab the dark impatiently,

Forever standing by.

 

Our house is ready all night long

To heat some food or play a song,

Till all the fossil fuels are gone,

Our house is standing by.

 

© Jill McDougall

 

Poem of the Day

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Harvey’s Escape

Based on the reported escape of a bouncing, squat, Staffordshire bull-terrier

by trampolining over the back fence of his yard.

(‘Odd Spot’, The Age, Melbourne, 16 June 2008)

 

Harvey liked to jump and bounce upon the trampoline

With frisky owners, little Bob, and teenage girl, Noreen.

He jumped and bounced, and bounced and jumped, steadily getting weary-er,

‘Come on, boy! Keep it up! Jumping’ll make you merrier!’

Exhausting Harvey, the bouncing, squat, Staffordshire bull-terrier.

 

Next day their mother called as they merrily bounced on the trampoline,

‘Come on kids! Come and say “Hello” to your Aunt Doreen!’

While Harvey bounced alone, his eyes were staring – getting bleary-er,

The day was hot, the sun so fiercely shining – becoming glary-er,

Blinding Harvey, the bouncing, squat Staffordshire bull-terrier.

 

Mum came out. ‘Get off, Harvey! Get off the trampoline!

The kids have gone with Aunt Doreen – please don’t make a scene.

Jump down! Rest! Good dog, Harvey! Now you’re looking cheerier.’

She went inside. Then, sitting there, soon the fencing barrier

Inspired Harvey, the bouncing, squat, Staffordshire bull-terrier.

 

‘Escape, escape!’ The dog jumped back and bounced on the trampoline.

‘I’ve thought of a marvellous way to fly and escape from this prison scene.’

He left the yard, propelled on high by a bounce upon his derriere,

Over the fence he flew, then tumbled, falling through the wisteria –

Freedom for Harvey, the bouncing, squat, Staffordshire bull-terrier.

 

Across a park and into a forest, goodbye to the trampoline.

Two people appeared, offering choice and both were smiling and keen.

‘Come with me, pick berries for market – I am the local berrier.’

‘Come with me, ride on the ferry – I am the local ferrier.’

‘Alternate days!’ barked Harvey, the bouncing, squat, Staffordshire bull-terrier.

 

 

By Edel Wignell

 

Poem of the Day

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Double standards

 

When I sit down to dinner

There are things I mustn’t do.

There’s a list of rules to follow.

Let me give you just a few.

 

I’m not to gobble quickly,

every mouthful must be chewed.

I can’t talk over others

’cause to interrupt is rude.

My mouth needs to be empty

when I get a chance to talk

My dinner must be tackled

with a proper knife and fork.

And even when I’ve finished

I am forced to sit and wait

till everybody’s eaten

what was put onto their plate.

And that’s just the beginning.

I could rattle off some more…

But for little baby brother

all these rules go out the door!

 

He’s put into his high chair

with his plastic spoon and plate

and you’d not believe the chaos

that he’s able to create.

No sooner is he seated

than his spoon is knocked away,

the plate has been inverted

and his food has hit the tray.

He grabs the mush with fingers,

that he runs straight through his hair

and he saves a bit for missiles

that he launches from his chair.

He wriggles in his harness

as he giggles, burps and squeals.

He loves to get attention

when we’re sitting down to meals.

He downs his final mouthful

then, in keeping with the trend,

prepares the grand finale…

he explodes from either end.

 

My brother’s skills are many

and deserve to be admired

but his manners at the table

leave a lot to be desired!

 

© Jenny Erlanger

 

Updates

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Here are this week’s updates.

 

COMPETITIONS

Current competitions (listed on this site) are now on the main ‘Competitions‘ page – in order of deadline submission date.

Reminders

 

The 2014 Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards, Australia’s largest and oldest poetry writing competition for students.

Closing Date: 30-June 2014

 

POETS A-Z

Two bios have been added to our POETS A-Z page.

Mike Lucas

Dianne Ellis

If you are not able to view the ‘drop-down’ listing of poets, all bios can be accessed through the main page here.

Direct link: https://australianchildrenspoetry.com.au/australianpoets/

 

That’s it for this week.

 

Di Bates