Poetry · Writing

Jill McDougall

What poets did you enjoy reading as a child?

When I first went to school, I thought poetry was awful drivel. The Queensland School Reader was full of old and very unlovely poems. I was particularly put off by an annoying bird who kept saying, “Tu-whit ! Tu-whit! Tu-whee! After that, it was all downhill until I discovered John Shaw Nelison’s The Orange Tree.

The young girl stood beside me. I

Saw not what her young eyes could see:

A light, she said, not of the sky

Lives somewhere in the Orange Tree…

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

When I was 11, the school magazine published this one:

Writer’s Mess

It’s so easy

bright and breezy

writing rhyme

in record time.

It’s so pleasing

blue pen squeezing

jotting down

unpolished sound.

Out it comes

in fits and runs,

Silly verse

I later curse.

You think it rhymes?

A sign of times,

It’s messy




flowing out unchecked,

all the rules are wrecked.

Put down as fast

as pen can last –

Oh heavenliness

in writer’s mess.

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

I mostly write rhyme cos it’s fun.

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

They’re definitely the read-aloud variety.


I’m a bony skeleton

And you can call me Fred.

I have a bony backside

And a bony bony head.

Two bony lips

Two bony hips

And bony toes

With bony tips

I have so many bony bits

I might as well be dead.

Who first published your poetry?

My first anthology (Anna the Goanna) was published by Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra in 2000.

Where else have your poems been published?

I have a second anthology called Put a Cockroach in my Muesli (Era Publications, Adelaide) and lots of poems in School Magazine and the Pearson mags. Various poems have also found their way into collections such as 101 poems for Australian Children (Random House). Most unexpected was the use my poem Smart Flies as part of the National Literacy Test.

Here’s a link to Cockroach …


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

Good question. I’d approach those publishers with a history of putting out anthologies and send them my best two poems. Sadly, not many anthologies are produced. Sad because most children adore poetry.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve abandoned poetry for the moment and am working on a hush-hush non-fiction project that involves bloody battles and a gruesome end.

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

I’m here: www.jillmcdougall.com.au

Do you have a favourite poetry websites?

Definitely this one:


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


Gabby and Duffy

Gabby is a tabby cat,

A crabby rather flabby cat,

She sits inside the kitchen door

And cries and cries and cries.

Duffy is a fluffy dog,

A huffy rather puffy dog,

He sits outside the kitchen door

And sighs and sighs and sighs.

“Goodness me,” says Auntie Min,

“You’re making such a dreadful din,

Out you go you crabby cat

And that will be the end of that.”

Now Duffy sees the open door,

It’s just the chance he’s waiting for,

He creeps beneath the kitchen chair,

And sighs with silent pleasure there.

“I like outside,” purrs Gabby cat,

That crabby rather flabby cat,

“I like to sniff the autumn leaves

And hunt for beetles on the trees.”

“I like inside,” sighs Duffy dog,

That huffy rather puffy dog,

“I like to snooze till half past three,

Then watch the footie on TV.”

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