Janeen Brian

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What poets did you enjoy reading as a child?

I remember two poems when I was about 12; Cargoes by John Masefield and Silver by Walter de la Mare. Our Year 7 teacher read them to us and also had them written out on large sheets of paper. She was the only teacher in primary school who gave us poetry. My favourite phrase in Cargoes was ‘and cheap tin trays’. Such an aural and visual picture and one that contrasted so brilliantly with the rest of the poem. I never knew what ‘quinquireme’ or ‘Nineveh’ or ‘Ophir’ meant or referred to, but it didn’t seem to matter. They hinted of things exotic and that was enough for me.

Cargoes

Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,

Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,

With a cargo of ivory,

And apes and peacocks,

Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,

Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,

With a cargo of diamonds,

Emeralds, amythysts,

Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,

Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,

With a cargo of Tyne coal,

Road-rails, pig-lead,

Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

Silver

Slowly, silently, now the moon

Walks the night in her silver shoon;

This way, and that, she peers, and sees

Silver fruit upon silver trees;

One by one the casements catch

Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;

Couched in his kennel, like a log,

With paws of silver sleeps the dog;

From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep

Of doves in a silver-feathered sleep;

A harvest mouse goes scampering by,

With silver claws, and silver eye;

And moveless fish in the water gleam,

By silver reeds in a silver stream.

I remember liking this poem, but balking at the word ‘shoon’. I actually hated it. I hadn’t heard it before but I felt it was an ugly word. However, I liked the phrase ‘with paws of silver sleeps the dog.’

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

I think I did write poems, but none survived, not in memory, on paper or in books. But I loved making up silly rhymes in my head, or matching words or wondering about words.

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

I write in both rhyme and free verse. I enjoy both and it’s often the content, the message or the feeling that decides it for me. At times I have tried writing a poem one way only to switch to the other form with more success.

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

I like reading my own poems aloud and I guess that’s how I imagine my poems work best. Example:

Alligator from Machino Supremo!


Beware! Beware!

If you dare,

step up onto the moving stair.

Steel-toothed jaws

like alligator;

step quick, step light

on escalator.

Delivers you

like silent waiter

does this shiny, sandal hater –

with the closing of its jaw

deposits you on different floor!

Who first published your poetry?


The first magazine to publish my poems was The School Magazine. Both The Circle of Song, and Jigsaw Bits came out in 1983.

The Circle of Song.

We are the songs

of the mountains and seas

the song of the wind

the crooning of trees.

Crisp autumn leaves

that shiver and rattle

long low notes

from meadowed cattle.

Pure silver notes

from the throat of a bird

we’ll tell you as much

as the spoken word.

Let us surround you

our songs to share

step into our world

you’re welcome there.

Jigsaw Bits

You need the right pieces

in the right places

to make a jigsaw fit,

and every little living thing

is like a jigsaw bit.

Wriggle it or jiggle it

or throw it right away,

and soon the game

is not the same,

and all has gone astray.

So take care, be aware,

of water, land and sky,

and all that gives

and all that lives,

and all that crawl and fly.

You need the right pieces

in the right places

to make a jigsaw fit,

and every little living thing

is like a jigsaw bit.

Where else have your poems been published?

The first book in which my poetry was published was in Putrid Poems. It was published in 1985 by Omnibus Books, illustrated by Craig Smith and was full of pukey, smelly, farty, gruesome, fun rhyming poems. My offering was called Tin-Foiled.

There once was a knight

In armour so tight

Who was brave and true and trusty.

He wanted a pee

But mislaid the key

Now they call that brave knight Sir Rusty.

Work in other Omnibus anthologies followed: Petrifying Poems, Stay Loose Mother Goose, Vile Verse, Four and Twenty Lamingtons, Christmas Crackers, Off the Planet! And Fractured fairytales & Ruptured Rhymes.

I co-authored a book of limericks, called There was a Big Fish for Era Publishing and later had poems accepted in Random House’s anthology, 100 Poems for Australian Children.

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

Often poets are asked to write for a particular anthology because either the publisher knows the person’s work, or the person has been recommended to him/her. Or maybe the publisher has seen a poem in one of the children’s magazines and the quality was enough to seek that person out.

Perhaps a new poet could locate magazines where poetry is accepted and send them material, so they eventually build up some noticeable work. Another is to send a query to publishers who have formerly published anthologies, along with a couple of your poems for their interest and find out if they have any future anthology idea in the wings.

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

Since 2002 I have had three books of my own poetry published:

Silly Galah! (Omnibus/Scholastic)

By Jingo!(ABC/HarperCollins)

Nature’s Way A to Z of biodiversity (formerly Its and Bits of Nature) (Crawford House)

and recently co-authored a fun book about machine poems with writer/poet Mark Carthew, called

Machino Supremo! (Celapene Press)

Many of my trade picture books are also in rhyming verse. They include:

The Super parp-buster!(Working Title Press)

Columbia Sneezes!(Omnibus/Scholastic)and

I Spy Dad! (New Frontier)

Two more rhyming picture will be released in 2010:

Shirl and the Wollomby Show (Omnibus/Scholastic)and

I Spy Mum! (New Frontier).

Many of my educational books have also been written in rhyming verse: eg. Thumpety-Rah!

Silly Galah! is found in many bookshops, often bundled together with other ‘Aussie’ type books. Also available from Scholastic. customer_service@scholastic.com.au and online shopping.

By Jingo! (p/back) can also be found in bookshops, online shopping or ordered from HarperCollins www.harpercollins.com.au, Plus I have hard-backed copies for sale. Contact me at janeen@janeenbrian.com.

Nature’s Way can be ordered from Crawford House CRAWFORD HOUSE Publishing Crawford House Publishing Aust. Pty Ltd. ABN 31 102 847 656
14 Dryandra Drive,  PO Box 50, Belair, SA5052 Australia
Tel: + 61 8 8370 3555  Fax: + 61 8 8370 3566 Mob: 0439 808 463
Email: tonycraw@bigpond.net.au
www.crawfordhouse.com.au

For Machino Supremo! check out bookshops, or Celapene Press: www.celapenepress.com.au online shop or Show and Tell online shop, www.showandtell.com

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on turning one of my poems, about a dirty dinosaur, into a picture book.

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

My website is www.janeenbrian.com

Do you have a favourite poetry websites?

I love yours, www.versatilityrhymeandrhythm.blogspot.com and http://poemaweekproject.blogspot.com but often I just do a Google and see what poetry sites I can find for pleasure at any one time.

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

Here’s a short poem about a long animal! Giraffe from By Jingo!


Giraffe

is made up

of five long stalks,

one for his neck

and

four

for his walks!

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One response »

  1. Pingback: Spiney Poetry « MacDibble’s Blog

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