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Short and Scary

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Short and Scary is an anthology of creepy stories and poems edited by Karen Tayleur and published by black dog books

The profits from the sale of this book will be donated to youth mentoring programs.

When my story ‘At the End of the Street’ was accepted to be included in the anthology I was doubly thrilled because not only was it a story acceptance it was an acceptance for a story written in rhyme, one more affirmation, write what you love.

I’ve just finished writing an article for UTS Alumni “Writers Connect” to be published in July where I liken writers to instruments. A subsequent facebook discussion had me thinking about what type of instrument, as a rhyming poet,  I might be – some sort of a percussion/flute hybrid – a drute perhaps or a flum. A flum I think, I like that word.

What type of instrument are you?

John Malone

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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 !

Corinne Fenton

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What poets did you enjoy reading as a child?

William Wordsworth, Robert Louis Stevenson, Banjo Patterson and anyone else who popped up in those school readers from long ago.

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

Oh God! I actually have it. I was 13. (see below)

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

Both. Have no idea why, they just come one way or the other.

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

Quietly I think. Mine aren’t performance poetry.

Who first published your poetry?

Preston Technical College Girls’ School Magazine

Where else have your poems been published?

Warrandyte Diary, Cancer Council Awards, Australian Brain Foundation, Box Hill TAFE, Cherububble

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

Through TAFE

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

No I haven’t.


What are you working on at the moment?

More picture books. One actually is in rhyme.

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

www.corinnefenton.com and I’m on Twitter

Do you have a favourite poetry websites?

No,  I prefer holding  the book for poetry – particularly  big thick ones like  an  Oscar Wilde collection with gold edges

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

I guess this is where I put my very first poem (with red face).

Winter as a Man

The drover tours the desert land,
Cracking his whip at every command,
He brings the winter cold and grey,
And coaches the cattle on, every day.

The sound of his whip makes the thunder roar,
The sound of their hooves makes the rain down-pour,
Their voices are heard very far away,
They make lightning come most every day.

The mud is thick, the days are dark,
Drovers dress in their warmest garb,
All because of ‘Lightning’ the drover.

Claire Saxby

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Thank you Claire for being part of an ‘Interview with a children’s Poet’

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

AAMilne, Robert Louis Stevenson,

 

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

Yes, it was in grade 3 I think, so I was about 8 years old. I can remember the first verse but I think it is safest left in the vaults of my memory!

 

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

Mostly in free verse. Occasionally in rhyme (and I can limerick almost on demand). Why? Not really sure. Free verse just seems to fit me better.

 

4. Are your poems best performed aloud or read quietly to oneself?

I like to think they’re best out loud. I guess there are some that work as quietly read too?

Can you provide an example?

 

The Underhouse

 

It’s dark

and wet

things live under there

things that are afraid of the light

 

It’s dark

and cold

things hide under there

things that don’t want to be found

 

It’s dark

and muddy

things roll under there

things that are never seen again

 

It’s dark

and cramped

things happen under there

things that only happen at night

 

It’s dark

dank, smelly, sludgy and way too closed in

my dog loves it there

Snuffling shuffling whiffing whoofing

 

This poem has appeared in The School Magazine

 

5. Who first published your poetry?

I had poems published in secondary school year books, but my first publishing experience as an adult was with poetry for adults and it was a magazine called Centoria. The fee was two stamps. My first children’s poem was in The School Magazine.

 

6. Where else have your poems been published?

The School Magazine has been where most of my poems have appeared, but one ‘Pompeii’ is still appearing on a train near you (that is…if you live in Melbourne metro area) and is also part of the education kit supporting the Melbourne Museum’s Pompeii exhibition. My poetry has also appeared in anthologies and online.

 

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

Join a writer’s network or organisation. They often list opportunities. There are writers centres in many states and also organisations like Poets Union, dedicated solely to poetry, if not to children’s poetry.

 

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

No collection published. One day?

 

9. What are you working on at the moment?

A range of projects. I have several poems awaiting final tweaks, a picture book in concept stage, and a longer project underway.

 

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

www.clairesaxby.com

 

11. Do you have a favourite poetry websites?

No, but my noticeboard is full to overflowing with poems I like.

 

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

This poem appeared in an anthology called Celebrations, from DDD Publishing

 

Cooking Christmas

 

Catch a Christmas carol cold

and pop it in your pocket –

deep, deep down.

Curl it around your thumb

until it quivers and hums.

Knead it with your fingers

until it bubbles and sings –

rising and ready

to bring Christmas in.

 

Thanks Claire!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graham Denton

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This week I’d like introduce Graham Denton, a prolific children’s poet and anthologist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What poets did you enjoy reading as a child?

To be honest, I don’t really remember being exposed to poetry at an early age.  I’ve no doubt that my parents nourished me with nursery rhymes in my infancy.  But, when I was growing up, there were very few books in our house of any sort, let alone poetry collections.  And I can’t recall ever having poetry read out loud in any primary school class.  I may well be wrong, of course.  Memory does play naughty tricks on us at times!  It wasn’t until my teens that I developed something of an interest but even then it was very limited.  I was far more engrossed by song lyrics throughout my teenage years.  Lennon and McCartney were a massive influence on me.  If there were any one poet that first engaged my young imagination, I’d have to say it was Ogden Nash.

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

I was always very much a scribbler of snapshots and quick thoughts.  This has generally been reflected in the poems I write.  Even to this day, the majority of my poems are quite short.  A long poem to me is anything over 4 lines long!  But the first full ‘poem’ I wrote, around the age of 13 or 14, was titled ‘The Walls of History’, and it was actually 4 stanzas long, each stanza being about a famous wall in history (Berlin, Hadrian’s, The Great Wall of China, for example).  I wrote it down in my English exercise book, not as part of any assignment, simply because I liked my teacher and hoped that she’d read and enjoy what I’d written when I handed the book in with another piece of homework in it.  She did.  It was marked “A” and had a complimentary comment by its side!  I don’t have a copy, so can’t share it.   But that might well be a blessing.

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

I write mostly in rhyme.  Why?  I think I enjoy working within the structure that rhyme imposes.  It works for me.  It can be both inhibiting and liberating. Sometimes a pair of rhyming words will trigger a whole poem.  At other times, it’s a pair of words that can hold up the completion of a whole poem!  As a small press publisher I receive a great many submissions from people, both young and older.  Many make the classic mistake in using rhyme for the sake of it.  As a result, most of what they’ve written doesn’t sound ‘true’; they’ve let the rhyme dictate how the poem should be written, rather than they dictating where the poem should go. It is an easy trap to fall into, but one any writer should try to avoid.  Poems obviously don’t have to rhyme, and unless you’re using rhyme that enhances what you want to say, I always advise – ironically, given my own bent towards rhyming – that would-be poets well steer clear of it.

Are your poems best performed aloud or read quietly to oneself?

Good question!  I don’t feel that I write LOUD poems as such.   But neither are my poems ones that necessitate whispering.  Throughout the majority of my poems I attempt to weave a thread of humour.  For me, nothing beats bringing a smile to a face (or, better yet, many faces) with the words I’ve conjured. I like to think that my poems work both on the page and off it, like any good poem should.  If I can share a poem by reading it out to an audience, and it’s one I feel will engage or entertain them, then I will do so.  I write the occasional limerick, and they seem to appeal to both young and old, which is always a good thing.  Here’s one:

 

What a Sucker!

As a glassblower, Septimus Grayling
had a rather regrettable failing.
When they laid him to rest,
he’d a PANE in his chest—
‘stead of blowing, he kept on inhaling!

I use that limerick as an example of a poem that will probably only work on the page, simply because only then will the reader get the pun in the spelling of the word ‘Pane’.  But hopefully this is a rare case.

 

Who first published your poetry?

The first two poems I had accepted by a major publisher featured in a collection of ‘music’ poems titled ‘Turn that Racket Down!’, which was edited by Paul Cookson for Macmillan Children’s Books.  Even if they did print one of the poems incorrectly, it was such a thrill to see my name in lights for the first time.  And I shall be forever grateful to Paul for giving me that initial break.

 

Where else have your poems been published?

My poems have turned up in all sorts of anthologies and journals since those first two were published.  In over 30 books, so too many to mention here.  One poem, titled ‘Evening Shifts’ has been my most anthologised, with appearances in 5 or 6 books so far.

 

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

Well, unfortunately, for those aspiring to be published, there is something of a dearth of new anthologies being commissioned by major UK publishers right now.  I was lucky that, when I first started submitting poems, children’s poetry was experiencing quite a boom period; there were a great many anthologies every year.  What I did at the time was make contact with one poet whom I knew was also an occasional anthologist.  I asked about any forthcoming anthologies he knew of and for which I might send off some work.  He was very generous and gave me a list of 4 or 5 poetry books that were in the making at the time.  I submitted some poems for them and was fortunate to hit the jackpot straightaway.  So, my advice would be to do something similar.  I actually went to see this poet perform.  But that is probably not necessary.  Children’s poets and anthologists are fairly accessible these days, with websites, social network sites, etc.  And usually they’re more than willing to offer help or guidance where they can.  So, network as much as possible, and make contact when and where you can, would be my advice.

 

Have you published a collection of your own poems?

Not as yet.  But it’s something I’m definitely working towards. I plan to publish a first full collection of my own work through my press, Hands Up Books, sometime in 2010.  As an anthologist, however, I have published a few collections.  These include:  ‘Silly Superstitions’ (Macmillan Children’s Books), ‘Wild! Rhymes that Roar’ (Macmillan Children’s Books), ‘Orange Silver Sausage’ (Walker Books), and ‘My Cat is in Love with the Goldfish’ (A&C Black), forthcoming in 2010. All of these are available from Amazon.


What are you working on at the moment?

I, like most poets I’d assume, like to have several plates spinning at once.  But, probably also like most poets, I’m a bit reluctant to discuss them too much lest they come crashing to the ground!  Without giving too much away, I can say that I am working on a couple of collaborations with another poet, one of which is towards a collection of very small animal poems (that’s very small poems about very small animals!).  I always have a number of ideas for new anthologies floating around in my head and/or on the desk of a publisher or two.  Whether any of these ever sees the printer’s ink remains to be seen!

 

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

My small press website is www.handsupbooks.co.uk (though I must confess it’s dreadfully in need of updating).  I am hoping to start a poetry blog (or maybe even two) sometime in the New Year.  So, watch this space!

 

Do you have a favourite poetry websites?

There are many websites, and poetry blogs too, that I enjoy.  Two of the sites that I’ve visited most regularly over the years have been Roger Stevens’ www.poetryzone.co.uk and Kenn Nesbitt’s www.poetry4kids.com

 

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


A Not-So-High Spirit

Our house, it seems, is playing host

to what must be a baby ghost;

each time it flies into the air,

that spook’s inside a BOO-ster chair!

 

Thanks Graham for taking the time to answer my questions.

 

Thanks for asking!  Graham Denton

Rhyming poems for adults

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Before I wrote rhyming poems for children I wrote rhyming poems for parents (mothers mostly, being one myself). A UK website, The Bad Mothers Club, found my poems amusing and much to my joy published half a dozen on their site. Later I published my own blog (since now closed) and more recently my poems have appeared on the Parenting Express site.

So what am I getting at? I write of adults and children – big deal. My point, I guess is that actually what I write for most is for fun. Sometimes the poems will appeal more to children sometimes more to adults but always, no matter who my audience, my poems appeal to me. I think that writers, especially children’s writers carry with them that sense of fun that delights not only children but the child that’s in us all.

Just recently I was asked to write an article about why people like to write in rhyme. The overwhelming response was because it was fun. I found that discovery delightful and of course not at all surprising. So for those of you who like to write in rhyme for fun – here’s one I prepared earlier.

 

Growing Pains

 

They’re taking my bottle away

They say that I’m getting too old

“Your milk should be sup from a glass or a cup

And served straight from the fridge; icy cold”

 

They’re taking my blankey away

They say I’m not longer a pup

“You can’t smell a rose with a rag up your nose

Come along now it’s time to grow up”

 

They’re taking my nappies away

They say I should sit on the loo

“Just quit your complaining and get toilet training

It’s time that you flushed your own poo”

 

They’re taking my dummy away

They say that I look like a sook

“A smile should replace that old plug in your face

Stop your whining and go read a book”

 

They’ve taken my childhood away

As they sing, “Happy Birthday To Me”

They’ve made me a cake; took them hours to bake

With some candles to count; one, two, three…

Birds of a Feather

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Today’s post isn’t going to be about anything specific but rather writing in general. As we all know, writing can be a lonely occupation, at least it was before the internet. Nowadays we can connect with writers all over the world through our blogs, our facebook pages, twitter etc. Just yesterday I received an invitation to join a poets page on facebook where I posted a poem that you may have read, called ‘Spiderlings’. Not long after the post, I received an email from a fellow poet living in England (I’m in Australia). She said that she really enjoyed my poem and would she be able to send me some of hers. Yes, I said, that would be lovely. And lovely it was. Her poetry is beautiful and I spent a very pleasant time reading and smiling and being warmed completely through by a stranger’s poetry as a direct result of posting one of mine. This leads me to an idea that I read on another blog, thanks to a twitterer, that suggests that we, as writers, shouldn’t worry too much about publishers…are you mad (I hear you cry), well possibly but I really liked what this blogger had to say, which was and I quote – “Don’t worry about finding a publisher. Engage an audience and publishers will find you.” This quote was part of a post called Giving Yourself Permission which in itself is a wonderful suggestion.

So this is what I suggest, no matter what you write, seek out your flock of preference and share your work, your ideas, your experiences and your advice. You never know, you could just end up reading something wonderful, as I did and you might even make a new friend.

If you have any stories that are similar to this one, I’d love to hear them. Post them in the comments section if you like.

So what exactly is iambic meter?

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While researching this question, in order to find the simplest explantion, I came across an article by Timothy Steele titled – Introduction to Meter and if this sort of thing interests you I would highly recommend that you read it.

Over the last year I have been trying to understand what it is I do by ear alone. When I write a poem I don’t say to myself right, now I am going to write a poem in iambic tetrameter, and to be honest, it’s quite a surprise when I find that I have. Apparently, according to Timothy Steele, English-language poetry is written mostly in iambic meters.So I thought it might be appropriate to look at what that means in a bit more detail.

As we know, words are made up syllables. The word ‘syllable’ for example is made up of 3 syllables. Each syllable is spoken in a certain way according to our accent. Australians place a slight stress on the first syllable such that we pronounce the word SYLL/a/ble. This word could never be used in a verse written in iambic meter because it is made up of a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables. A verse written in iambic meter must follow the pattern of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable as in the following verse written by Hughes Mearns.

As I was walking up the stair
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today.
I wish, I wish he’d stay away.

So let’s break this up into stressed and unstressed syllables and see if it fits an iambic pattern.

As I was walking up the stair
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today.
I wish, I wish he’d stay away.

da DA / da DA / da DA / da DA

So yes, you can see that an iambic pattern does indeed exist and each syllable cluster (/da DA/) is known as a foot, which is the smallest unit of rhythm in a poem. This verse then is written in iambic tetrameter where tetrameter describes how many iambic feet there are in each line. In this case there are four.

To see examples of verse written in iambic dimeter (2), trimeter (3) and pentameter (5) visit Timothy Steeles article mentioned above.