What poets did you enjoy reading as a child?
The Highway Man- loved the rhythm of the poem- actually really read more folk tales than anything else. But I loved TS Eliot later in secondary school, Browning and Chaucer.
Do you remember the first poem that you ever wrote? How old were you? Can you share it with us?
Oh, I must have been in my teens- that angst sort of poetry that I have seen many times since especially in secondary school writing- who am I? Where am I going? Does anyone love me? That sort of thing- necessary to write this out of my system and deliver it in other ways! I began to be published in my teens in quaint hippy magazines like The Mundane Egg! I believe small literary magazines are the way to build a reputation as a poet.
Do you write mostly in rhyme or in free verse? Do you know why?
Mostly in free verse-as it allows more freedom to really surprise with images and detail- but it still can deliver rhythm and pack a punch. It’s hard to write in several layers in rhyme- well for me it is. But saying that in my latest collection: ‘A ute picnic and other Australian poems’ I have written several small rhyming poems.
Are your poems best performed aloud or read quietly to oneself?
A poem should always sound right- I can hear in my head if my poem has its rhythm right, if it flows or sounds awkward. And there is nothing better that reading one’s poems aloud to an audience.
Who first published your poetry?
My children’s poems were published in School Magazine NSW and a first collection was published by Five Islands Press. But before children’s writing I was published a lot in literary magazines both here and overseas and was part of the Five Islands New Poets series in 1996- what a feeling that was!
Where else have your poems been published?
I have been anthologised in ‘100 poems for Australian children’; Evans brothers collection of Water and Earth UK; The end of year Reciter, Celebrate triple D books; Side by Side new poems inspired by art from around the world Abrams, New York.
Anthologies are often places for poets to seek publication. How would you suggest a new poet find out about upcoming anthologies?
Network through PIO of course, or through a Writers’ centre, look at collections of poems- send poems to magazines like School Magazine New South Wales, explore every avenue.
Have you published a collection of your own poems? Where would we find a copy?
I have three collections of my children’s poems and one collection of my literary work. The first two are sold out- after all a poetry collection has a small print run!
But my latest collection published by Walker and released last month ‘A Ute picnic and other Australian poems,’ is available from any good bookshop. I have copies of the second last collection ‘that downhill yelling,’ Five Islands Press, if any one would like a copy, please contact me. I have had two verse novels published as well (Ratwhiskers and Me’, ‘Star Jumps’) and like to explore a different avenue of poetry writing in these. I still love to sketch out characters for novels in this way- I can cut to personality and emotion in the economy of a few lines.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have two novels on the go and working on another collection of poems. I also love to write poetry workshops and encourage children and adults to write.
Do you have a website/blog/facebook where we can find out more about you?
Do you have a favourite poetry website?
Sheryl Clark’s site http://www.poetry4kids.net/
Would you like to share one of your poems with us?
This is a little poem that was accepted by RMIT poetry project during the 2009 Melbourne Writers festival
clouds of olive sprinkled with white puffs of seagull,
is this what you see on our pram walks?