John Malone

1. What poets did you enjoy reading as a child?

As a child I enjoyed reading Lewis Carrol [ the poems from the two Alice books ], Edward Lear [ the Nonsense poems ], Tennyson [ In Memoriam ], Shakespeare [ the sonnets ], Elizabeth Barret Browning [ Sonnets from the Portuguese ] and Christina Rosetti [ Goblin Market ] — all from my dad’s collection of ‘The World’s Great Books in Outline’

2. Do you remember the first poem that you ever wrote? How old were you?

The first poem I remember writing was to my mother when I was about 9 or 10.

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

I write both free verse and rhyme. It is NEVER a conscious choice. The first few lines ‘come to me’ and they decide in their structure and rhythm whether it’s a rhymer or not.

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

When I do performances in schools I always perform my poems, but well before that I read them aloud to myself in my room to hear how they sound. Some poems however are more contemplative in style or have a heavy reliance on visuals. These work less well in performance. But VOICE is very important in my performance poems so I must capture the voice of the speaker as in this poem on a nursery rhyme.

The Spider’s Rebuke

You really should tough it,

Little Miss Muffett

and not look so surprised

when all unbid

a hairy arachnid

drops down before your eyes.

I’m only a spider.

I’m not going to bite yer.

I just dropped in to say,

I’m a little peckish.

[ I haven’t had breakfast].

and I saw your curds and whey.

5. Who first published your poetry?

My first published poem would be ‘Trees’ which was published in the Spring Poetry Festival — now in its 32nd year — an annual publication put out by the SA English Teachers’ Association.

6. Where else have your poems been published?

Elsewhere my poems have been published in The Friendly Street Readers, published annually: the best poems read that year at ‘Friendly Street’; the School Magazine [NSW], The School Journal [NZ] , Cricket Magazine [ the US ] and various anthologies.

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

As for anthology outlets you have to watch out for opportunities advertised in the newsletter of your own State’s writing centre newsletter.

8. Have you published a collection of your own poems/story in verse/verse novel? Where would we find a copy?

I’ve just published a collection of my own children’s poetry called ‘Big Blue Mouth’ [through Kirrinda Press].

9. What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I am working on expanding my set of riddle rhymes and puzzle poems.

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

A poem I’d like to share with you is one I ALWAYS perform during appearances at schools or in public.

In Which The Dog Loses His Cool

I’ve got a bone to pick

with you ,

says the dog to Mrs. Hubbarb .

How come when I go

to look

there’s no food in the cupboard ?

No meat , no cans , no biscuits .

Why there’s not

even a single bone .

And you have the cheek,

the temerity

to call this place a home !

It’s not as though you’re

the old woman

who lives downstreet in the shoe .

Look around. You haven’t

any kids to feed .

There’s just me and you !

in which the dog [ 2 ]

Whatever can be the cause

of this

outlandish state of affairs ?

Why if I was goosey goosey gander

I’d kick you

right down these stairs !

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