MEREDITH COSTAIN

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Over the next few months I will be interviewing children’s poets from all around the world. I’m hoping that this will give those interested in children’s poetry some insight into this wonderful genre.

First up we have the amazing Australian children’s author and poet – Meredith Costain. Thank you Meredith for taking the time to answer the following questions.

Meredith Costain

 

 

 

 

 

 

What poets did you enjoy reading as a child?

 

A A Milne, CJ Dennis and Hilaire Belloc.

 

Do you remember the first poem that you ever wrote? How old were you? Can you share it with us?

 

There were lots of little bits and pieces from the time I was six, but the first poem with a real sense of structure was written when I was eight. It was published in the Junior Age section of The Age newspaper. It was also my first ‘paid’ publication – I received a whole 17 shillings and sixpence! An absolute fortune back then.

 

My Little Creek

 

Through crisp ferny bracken

Where tree ferns grow tall

My little creek went winding

Near a rushing waterfall.

 

It told me many a story

Of pioneering days

As it gurgled on its stony bed

Beneath the warm sun’s rays.

 

But then a fearsome fire came

Scorching the countryside

Destroying all the bushland plants

Across that valley wide.

 

There’s no more ferny bracken

There’s no more tree ferns tall

But still my creek goes winding

Near the rushing waterfall.

 

As you can see, heavily influenced by the very ‘Australian’ poetry in the Victorian Education Department School Readers. And totally lacking any understanding of bush regeneration. Still, I was only eight … and all the bush where I lived had been cleared for pasture.

 

Do you write mostly in rhyme or in free verse? Do you know why?

 

Mostly in rhyme. No idea why. The rhythms are in my head, and it’s a wonderful sense of achievement when the rhymes ‘work’. Like solving a big puzzle.

 

Are your poems best performed aloud or read quietly to oneself? Can you provide an example?

 

Again, a mixture. However the poems in Doodledum Dancing were written to be performed aloud.

 

DINOSAUR SWAMP STOMP

 

Stomping, stamping dinosaurs

Clomping round on bumpy paws

Stomp! Stomp! Stomp!

 

Oozy, snoozy dinosaurs

Scratching sides with spiky claws

Scratch! Scratch! Scratch!

 

Munching, crunching dinosaurs

Chomping bones with snapping jaws

Snap! Snap! Snap!

 

Who first published your poetry?

As an adult, my first poems were published in Comet and Explore magazines, back in the 80s.

 

Where else have your poems been published?

 

I had some adult poems published in a small literary magazine, Brave New Word, in the early 90s. My collection of verse for the very young, Doodledum Dancing, was published as a picture book by Penguin in 2006 (illustrated by Pamela Allen). I’ve also had some poems in the Kids Night In anthology (Penguin), the When We Were Young anthology (Penguin) and Short (Black Dog Books). Many of the emergent readers I write for educational publishers contain rhyming verse.

 

Anthologies are often places for poets to seek publication. How would you suggest a new poet find out about upcoming anthologies?

 

The same way you find out about any other publishing opportunities: network!

 

Have you published a collection of your own poems? Where would we find a copy?

 

Doodledum Dancing, Penguin, 2006

doodledum dancing

 

 

 

 

 

Available in all good book stores. The paperback version is due in February 2010.

 

 

 

What are you working on at the moment?

A verse novel. Something a bit different for me!

 

Do you have a website/blog/facebook where we can find out more about you?

 

www.meredithcostain.com

 

Do you have a favourite poetry websites?

 

http://poemaweekproject.blogspot.com

 

This site was set up by Sherryl Clark (and me) to showcase Australian children’s poets, and help cultivate a culture of poetry in primary school classrooms.

 

Would you like to share one of your poems with us?

 

Wintry Weather (from Doodledum Dancing)

 

I love the wintry weather

When we rug up warm together

Watching lightning flickerflashing round the sky.

 

I love it when it’s chilly

And the garden’s daffodilly

And the kitchen smells of toast and apple pie.

 

I love it when it’s raining

And the ducks are aquaplaning

Over puddles in the middle of our street.

 

I go squelching, stomping, splashing

Kicking stones and spatterdashing

Making wintry weather patterns with my feet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 responses »

  1. Jackie, thanks so much for giving me insight into the people behind the rhyme. I love “Wintry Weather” and it has certainly inspired me to get back into writing some poetry myself. It’s just a shame that the standard opinion is ‘publishers don’t like rhyming books’. Considering some of the great stuff that I’ve seen recently (Mark Carthew & Janeen Brian in particular), I’m not sure that’s true. I’ve got my own rhyming text ms out there at the moment so I guess I’ll have to wait and see 🙂

  2. Wonderful poems, Meredith. I loved My Little Creek. Fancy writing that when you were only eight.

    Wintry Weather is cool too.

    I can’t write poetry, but one of my characters can.

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