Meet Pat Simmons

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Pat is a writer of poems, short stories, flash fiction and children’s picture books.

Her work has been published in anthologies and children’s magazines (including NSW School Magazine, Alphabet Soup and Looking Glass Magazine) and she has won writer competitions in Australia and the UK.

Her picture book manuscript, Ziggy’s Zoo has been accepted for publication by Little Pink Dog Books in 2017 and she has independently published a collection of flash fiction stories for adults called 52 Twisted Tales.

She lives at Scarborough on the south coast of NSW with her four cats, three dogs and assorted mini beasts.

Visit Pat’s website: www.patsimmonswriter.com.au

pat-simmons

“Write about what you love, what you know, what makes you happy and what makes you sad. Read lots of children’s poetry to get a feel for what style suits you.”_Pat Simmons

 

When did your interest in poetry begin?

When I was a child, I think. I’ve always loved rhyme and nonsense poetry.

Did you write poetry as a child?

I don’t remember writing poetry until I was about twelve years old when a school friend and I co-wrote a poem about our pet guinea pigs which was published in the school magazine. (Fortunately I don’t still have a copy.)

What was the first poem you had published?

Well, moving on about 50 years, my poem, Mr Pickle’s Pet Shop won a UK poetry competition and was published in 2010.

Who are some poets whose writing you love?

Ah, there are many, from the wonderful nonsense poetry of Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll to Thomas Hardy, Philip Larkin, John Betjeman, Bob Dylan and many more.

Have you had any poetry writing mentors?

No mentors as such, but the members of the writers’ group I belong to continue to encourage and inspire me.

What inspires you to write poetry?

Competitions and sites like ACP motivate me to write. I love writing but I don’t like writing lots of words! Poetry challenges me to write ‘tight’.

When you are writing a poem, what comes first – a subject, a line, a word?

Prompt words work really well for me as they give me a starting point. I’m also inspired by various subject matter. With my children’s poetry I love writing about animals and particularly animals who existed in history.

Do you workshop your poems with anyone?

Only with my writers’ group buddies.

How do you know when a poem is finished?

Oh, good question and I’m not sure how to answer it. I think I just know when I’ve said enough!

How do you know if a poem is good?

I don’t really ever know but, just sometimes, I’ll finish a poem and say to myself, ‘that’s good!’ I try not to overthink them.

What is your top tip for aspiring children’s poets?

Write about what you love, what you know, what makes you happy and what makes you sad. Read lots of children’s poetry to get a feel for what style suits you.

 

Trim

I’m a black cat

A special cat

A ship’s cat.

I was born on the Reliance in 1799.

Of all my mother’s kittens

I was the one most fine.

I’m a black cat

A special cat

A ship’s cat.

I have four snow-white paws

And a white star on my chest.

Of all the cats on board this ship

The sailors like me best.

I’m a black cat

A special cat

A ship’s cat.

When it’s time for dinner

I don’t eat with other cats.

I sit at table with the men.

I don’t care for rats.

I’m a black cat

A special cat

A ship’s cat.

I have a trusty friend

And Matthew Flinders is his name.

He has called me Trim.

I think together we’ll find fame.

I’m a black cat

A special cat

A ship’s cat.

Matthew is a clever man

He’s sailed all round this land.

He’s given it a name

And that’s Australia – how grand.

Perhaps you have a cat at home

Is it as fine as me?

Would it like to come aboard

And sail upon the sea?

With a black cat

A special cat

A ship’s cat.

Pat Simmons

 

Meet the poet: Kristin Martin

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Kristin lives in Adelaide in a house sort-of-near the sea with her husband, two sons, three turtles, four goldfish, five spiny leaf insects and a canary named Stephen Fly. Her poems have appeared in Tadpoles in the Torrens (Wakefield Press, 2013), and in the magazines Blast Off and Orbit. Kristin’s adult poetry collection, Paint the Sky, will be published by Ginninderra Press later this year.

Today Kristin tells us about her love of poetry and shares a little about her writing process…

I love writing poems; that’s what makes me a poet. I wouldn’t write poems if I didn’t love doing it. If you love writing poems then you are a poet too.

Many of my poems come from things I see or hear that make me laugh, or make me stop and say, “Wow! Isn’t that amazing! I want to tell people about that!” But, just because I think something is funny or amazing, it doesn’t mean other people will too. So I have to show how amazing or funny it is. One way to do this is to make up a story, with interesting characters and a setting and a beginning, middle and an end. I insert the amazing thing I saw into the story, and I write the story as a poem.

A few years ago, when I was travelling around northern Australia with my family, I was amazed by all the places where we saw frogs. We saw a tiny frog on the mirror in the girls’ toilets at a caravan park. We saw an even tinier frog siting behind the cold-water tap on the sink. And we saw a huge frog hiding under the toilet seat. I wanted to tell people about all these amazing places you could find frogs, so I decided to write a frog poem. To make my poem more interesting I developed a story about a child who has lots of frogs in her (or his) house. I pretended I was the child, and I was up at night, creeping around my house with a torch looking for the frogs. Here is the poem I wrote.

 

A Night of Frogs

A frog lives in our garden
in a pond beneath the tree.
I hear it croak at bedtime
as it says ‘goodnight’ to me.

A frog lives by our back door
on a post below the light.
I sneak outside to say ‘hello’
because it’s only there at night.

A frog lives in our laundry
in the corner of the wall.
I check when I come back inside
to make sure it didn’t fall.

A frog lives in our kitchen
in the space behind the sink.
It freezes in the torchlight
when I get myself a drink.

A frog lives in our bathroom
and I don’t know what to do
because it isn’t where it should be.
Yuk! It’s swimming in the loo!

My mum comes in the bathroom,
plants a kiss upon my head.
‘The frogs are fine just where they are
but you should be in bed!’

I also like to play with rhymes. On the same trip to northern Australia I was sitting on the edge of a beautiful, warm spring, dangling my feet in the water and watching my children swim, when a woman walked up with a black, stocky dog. I wanted to jump up and ran away because the dog looked so scary. But I made myself stay, because the water was lovely and warm, and told myself to be wary of the dog, but not scared. Immediately I realised I had a rhyme: “Some dogs are scary, you have to be wary.” I loved that rhyme! Over the next few weeks I thought of other rhymes for dogs; tiny dogs and jumpy dogs and busy dogs. I wrote them all in my notebook, then chose my favourite rhymes and arranged them in the order that sounded best. But the poem wasn’t finished until I came up with the ending. A good ending is one of the most important things in a poem.

Dogs

 Some dogs are scary.
You have to be wary.

Some dogs are fat.
They could squash you flat.

Some dogs are tiny
and yappy and whiny.

Some dogs are old
and can’t do what they’re told.

Some dogs are jumpy.
They make me feel grumpy.

Some dogs are fast.
I just watch them run past.

Some dogs are busy
and rush round till they’re dizzy.

But my dog is great.
She’s my very best mate.