Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Clayton's and tripping across the Tasman

Last night, I attended the CBCA Vic Clayton's night where speakers talk about the current titles that they love, and that they think are worthy of consideration for the annual CBCA Book of the Year Awards.

It's always inspiring to hear people talk about the books that move, entertain, inform and engage them.

I was thrilled to see 'Meet the Anzacs' on the Crichton display (for Max Berry's illustrations) and on the Eve Pownall display with 'Emu'.

And this morning, Philippa Werry is hosting me at her 'Children's War Books' blog, reviewing 'Meet the Anzacs' and interviewing me about the writing of.

You can see the review here
 and the interview here  

Shortly, Philippa will be visiting me to talk about the similarity in the covers for our Anzac picture books and other elements of writing about war.



Friday, 13 March 2015

Meet the Anzacs Book Trailer

Before Christmas, I visited the Penguin Random House offices to record an interview about the writing of 'Meet the Anzacs'. This week, following amazing work by the RH team, there's a book trailer!

If you would like to see it, click here



This poster went out this week inside the book industry magazine 'Magpies' to schools and libraries. Lovely to see that my soon-to-be-released 'Meet Weary Dunlop' is also included. Thanks RH!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Let's Celebrate Australia!

 
Today, I welcome my friend, Lorraine Marwood, to my blog to talk about her new poetry collection for children. Her visit is part of a blog tour to celebrate the release of 'Celebrating Australia' and other blog-stops are listed at the bottom of this post. 

Lorraine writes and teaches poetry for both children and adults. She is a multi-published author of both prose and poetry, including Prime Ministers' Award winner 'Star Jumps'. She has long been my poetry mentor. I love her work and value her insights. 

'Celebrating Australia' is a collection of poems for children encompassing different ways and days that Australians celebrate. Some of the celebrations will be familiar to most readers, others less so. Did you know about World Animal Day? Or World Oceans Day? 

On to the questions ...


What is your favourite poem in this collection and why?

Now that is a challenging question. I could say my favourite poem to write was “Talk like a pirate day” because it was such a lot of rollicking fun and a gift to make into a written chuckle.

But the favourite poem has to be the unexpected one- the Nativity poem.  This topic was not my choosing.  My editors said ‘write a nativity poem from a child’s point of view’ and along came a boy and his all-knowing friend Tiff who keeps telling him what to think about different aspects of the nativity play.  The boy is the donkey in the play and is like us looking in on the nativity as it unfolds. From bewilderment to final reverence the boy undergoes a gentle transformation and for me the benchmark was showing the significance of Christmas without any preachy aspects.

To add to the mystery of the writing process, my own grandson, as the collection went to press, was chosen to be the donkey in his preschool’s nativity play!  Wow! A shivery, tingly feeling which poetry should also deliver.

Which poem was the most challenging to write and why?

Definitely ‘Labour day’- what can be said other than dry slogans?
A different scenario to an actual labour day weekend, when the enjoyment is tangible.

  Oh how hard that was to begin and then maintain a poetic, uplifting voice.  So I began in an unusual way:

It’s all about the numbers;
hours added
then hours subtracted
but payment remaining the same.

How do you see this collection being valuable in a classroom?

I see it becoming an entry point for teachers to share each celebration as the time approaches and to find common ground in what the celebration is to them.  The class could then add to the poem with their own take on what form the celebration embraces in their family.

It can become a stepping point for an exploration of an historical event- for example ‘Anzac Day’, ‘Halloween’.

Of course it embraces multi – cultural aspects of our Australian life and each new celebration like ‘Moon festival’ or ‘Ramadan’ can be studied for cultural significance.

The book also explores some prominent school events like sports carnivals, first day, graduation, grandparents’ day and so on.  I’m sure different schools would have significant ‘celebrations’ that are uniquely their own and can be written into poetry.

Which is your favourite celebration?

It would have to be ‘Christmas’ because it is so encompassing in many ways, I get a chance to share a special time with my family, to give and to write and contact friends and acquaintances I might only do at Christmas time.  There has always been a joy and an anticipation that is rarely captured for me in any other celebration.

What is the best part of being a poet?

The unexpected lines, images and emotions that come through in a poem when I am least expecting it.  Poetry becomes a wonderful way of recording the little daily celebrations of life and when joined together become the some total of my outlook and joy in my life’s journey.

What is the most challenging part of being a poet?

The written word stage has such a small footing for poetry, yet it can touch children and adults in a way that prose can’t.  In other words poetry has little big screen publicity and therefore the monetary rewards of a poet are meager.

What can poetry do that prose can't?

Ah, this leads neatly on from the last question and I have to validate my statement.
·        It can be read or written in a shorter time frame than prose
·        it has a depth that prose can’t aspire to- there is another layer of meaning and emotion in lines of poetry
·        there is an economy of words, so each word has weight and crucial placement
·        poetry dances and has a resonance that can deliver meaning in succinct and vibrant ways that prose is unable to do.  Just look at the amount of times a poem is read at a significant milestone in life like marriage, an achievement, a family gathering, a funeral, a love note, an encouragement, a prayer.  I hope my collection might offer many readings at these special times.
·        poetry can shine the spotlight on a small happening, a small joy or small detail and bring into prominence the things we might take for granted.  Poetry makes you ‘stop and smell the roses’- ah I used a cliché!!!!

Thanks Claire for these great questions.  I always appreciate your support as a poet, author and friend.

Always a pleasure Lorraine. Lovely to have you visit.  WAIT! I nearly forgot. As part of this blog tour, Lorraine suggested bloggers write their own poem based on one of her poetry strategies. (the strategy can be found on Jackie's and on Kat's blogs - links below).

Aggh - it wasn't easy! In fact there was plenty of gnashing and wailing (but then that's normal with many poems and early stories) before I came up with my poem. It's not perfect, but I'm grateful, as always, for being pushed outside my comfort zone. 

I'm not sure my poem isn't actually two poems, but I quite like some of the images conjured by her coaxing/scaffolding strategy. Here 'tis:



Autumn



Autumn is slow chameleon colours

A day-fading, gentle change tide

One day tri-colour coated

wrapped and warm

By week’s end bare-branched

and blue-bark shivering



Autumn is ground-growing colours

A layer-cake ready to bake

One day, lime, strawberry, lemon flakes

set gently side-by-side

By week’s end a whole chocolate sponge

of slow-cooked, wind-mixed fun.



To read more about Celebrating Australia and other things poetic, visit the other stops on this blog tour: 

2 March: Jackie Hosking: www.jackiehoskingblog.wordpress.com  Topic:  What makes a good poem ( according to LM)


3 March: Kathryn Apel: https://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/blog Topic: Bringing a poetry collection together


4 March: Rebecca Newman:www.rebeccanewman.net.au   Topic: Researching  for poetry writing


5 March: Claire Saxby:  www.letshavewords.blogspot.com Topic: Differences between the writing of verse novels and a poetry collection


6 March: Janeen Brian: http://janeenbrian.com/blog/ Topic: How you create for the creators: how you create ideas to excite children and adults to write poems of their own.

9 March: Alphabet Soup ;  www.alphabetsoup.net.au  Topic:  Writing a class poem- the results!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

On my walk today I saw:


two ships sailing away from me


old St Kilda pier pylons being unloaded from a barge at Williamstown


dancing light beneath the darkest pier

the Sea Shepherd, but my photos of it have mysteriously vanished from my phone

two young men fishing.
'Caught anything yet?'
'Not yet'
'How long does your patience last ... how long have you been here?'
'7 minutes'
'oh. You'll keep at it for a bit then ...'
oh dear.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Celebrating Australia: A Year in Poetry


My friend, Lorraine Marwood, has just released a new collection of poetry for children with Walker Books Australia.

She'll be appearing here shortly (within the next couple of weeks) but being also a teacher, Lorraine has set me (and other bloggers on her 'tour') a challenge. We are each to write a poem using one of her strategies. Hmm.

So stay tuned while we negotiate her appearance, and I wrestle with a new poem.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Dromkeen Open Day and the John Barrow Collection


Dromkeen lives! The wonderful Bernadette and Tony have brought Dromkeen back to life after it was sold 18 months ago. It's looking grand. The first exhibition is this one - The John Barrow Collection - curated by Books Illustrated (Ann and Ann).


John Barrow was a teacher and principal and picture book art collector and upon his death, he willed the collection to Books Illustrated. This is the first time this very extensive collection of picture book art from the 80s, 90s and 00s has been on show, and it's a ripper!


The trees are still here.


And the view from the new chook house is amazing. Get yourself there for a look. Dromkeen is open Thursday to Sunday 10 - 4 pm.

Saturday, 3 January 2015