Monty Edwards is a regular contributor to the Australian Children’s Poetry Poem of the Day and rarely misses responding to the Monday Poetry Prompt. Monty is retired pastor and educator, whose main focus in writing has become rhyming verse. This began in early adulthood with light-hearted poems to be shared at family celebrations, then years later, in occasional contributions to the weekly bulletin of the church where he served. These were collected and published as Poems on the Way in 2015.
Since that time he has become a regular contributor to the Australian Children’s Poetry Poem of the Day feature and to date has had nine poems accepted for publication by The School Magazine.
With wife Sheena, Monty lives in beachside Rockingham, south of Perth, WA. They have three adult children and five grandchildren. Monty’s other interests include tennis, chess, playing piano and cryptic crosswords.
Monty has published a collection of his children’s poems called The Mystery Box, which includes a number of his Australian Children’s Poetry Poem of the Day submissions.
Contact him at email@example.com
When did your interest in poetry begin?
I was exposed to poetry in my school years and mostly enjoyed it for its entertainment value, especially rhyming verse that featured narrative, or humour, or both.
Did you write poetry as a child?
I don’t remember writing any poetry until my late teens and very little in early adulthood.
When was your first poem published?
As a by-product of my work as a pastor, and perhaps as late as 1995, I occasionally began to produce verse with Christian themes for the weekly bulletin of the church where I served, then subsequently for the church I now attend in my retirement. In September 2015, 27 of these poems were self-published in booklet form as Poems on the Way: Christian Verse for the Curious and the Committed.
Who are some poets whose writing you love?
I am drawn to particular poems rather than to particular poets and because of other lifetime interests, have not read widely in the genre until recently. Of Australian poets, I have spent most time with Banjo Paterson and CJ Dennis and I have particularly admired the poems of Jenny Erlanger and Pat Simmons on the Australian Children’s Poetry website.
Have you had any poetry writing mentors?
None to date.
What inspires you to write poetry?
In general, I write to make a difference, whether that be to the reader’s mood, their attitudes, point of view or belief system. I use poetry to affirm, encourage, entertain, educate and challenge, depending on the occasion and likely reader or hearer.
When you are writing a poem, what comes first – a subject, a line, a word?
For me, the subject would nearly always be the starting point, unless I am responding to a prompt.
Do you workshop your poems with anyone?
No, but if I think something I’ve written may be misunderstood, give offence, or fail to achieve its intended purpose, I value my wife’s assessment of its likely effect.
How do you know when a poem is finished?
When I can no longer find ways to improve it! However, I find that if you let the poem rest for a day or two, you may find you can improve it after all.
How do you know if a poem is good?
Although there is no substitute for honest feedback from readers, I feel one’s personal instinct for a poem’s worth develops with experience and by reading respected poets.
In practice I would ask myself: Does the poem flow? If rhyming, is the rhyme unforced? Is each element of the poem appropriate for the intended reader? (In that regard consider subject matter, vocabulary, imagery, form, and length). Is the content interesting and the conclusion satisfying? If I can answer those questions positively I gain confidence in my poem’s worth.
What is your top tip for aspiring children’s poets?
Keep asking yourself questions like those in the previous response as you work on your poem, and run through them again when you believe it is finished.
A snail once heard the story
Which is very often told:
“If you reach a rainbow’s ending,
You will find a pot of gold!”
This idea was most appealing,
(Since the snail was very poor)
And it left him with a feeling
That he couldn’t quite ignore.
Every day when it was raining,
But the clouds began to clear,
He would scan the sky for rainbows
In the hope one would appear.
Then at last he thought he saw one
In the garden hothouse glass!
To the spot he slowly hurried
Streaking silver through the grass.
But oh, what disappointment,
When he reached that special place!
For of golden coins or treasure,
He discovered not a trace.
As he turned to leave, discouraged,
Something caught his tearful eye
And a potted gold chrysanthemum
Proved the story was no lie.
The Mystery Box
My lunch for school’s a mystery box and here’s the reason why:
I cannot guess just what’s inside, however hard I try.
There’s something different every day: Mum treats it as a game.
The only thing I’m sure about: no day will be the same.
If Monday’s roll has vegemite, then Tuesday’s might have jam.
A sandwich made for Wednesday’s lunch might well be beef or ham.
On Thursday then, a salad wrap could be the big surprise,
But one school lunch on Friday something shocking met my eyes:
My mystery box was oozing with a greenish-yellow trickle!
There must have been a mix-up with Dad’s favourite: cheese and pickle!
While Dad enjoyed my peanut paste spread on his bread with honey,
My sandwich had an awful taste. Don’t laugh. It wasn’t funny!