1. What poets did you enjoy reading as a child?
I just loved Banjo Paterson. I also loved “How McDougal Topped The Score”, by Thomas Spencer. For many years I just believed it was another Banjo poem, though! I also thought Henry Lawson was pretty good, and I loved all the “Christopher Robin” poems by AA Milne.
2. Do you remember the first poem that you ever wrote?How old were you? Can you share it with us?
Sadly, no. I used to write a lot of “occasional verse” – mostly for the birthdays of family members.
3. Do you write mostly in rhyme or in free verse? Do you know why?
I write almost exclusively rhyming verse, because I enjoy it so much. Rhythms were an important part of my childhood – both because of the poets I have already mentioned, and also because of my heavy involvement with music at school. I played the trumpet in the orchestra and the Military Band (I was a cadet), and sang in the school choir (which was actually compulsory!).
4. Are your poems best performed aloud or read quietly to oneself? Can you provide an example?
My poems are definitely written to be read aloud. I see poetry as a social exercise, with poets sharing poems with large audiences, and hopefully many different people reciting or reading (preferably reciting!) their work, or that of others.
Here’s an example:
I wear my glasses when I sleep.
I know it sounds absurd.
(I tell no lies!)
My dreams are very blurred!
5. Who first published your poetry?
I wrote poetry for adults for many years before I summoned the confidence to write for children. The school magazine would have been my first publisher. My first poem for children was published by New South Wales School Magazine, and it was actually “Night Vision”!
6. Where else have your poems been published?
NSW School Magazine has now published about 30 of my poems. Pearson magazines have published a couple, as have Learning Media Limited in New Zealand School Journal. (One of them was also recorded on a CD by Learning Media Limited, and also turned into a song and recorded on the CD.) A couple more were published in a Nelson Thomson Learning anthology, “Funny Business”. One has been published in “Cricket” magazine in the US. I have also had several poems included in “Celebrate – the End of Year Reciter”, published by Triple D Books and, most recently, in “Big Book of Verse for Aussie Kids”, published by Allen & Unwin.
I have also found markets for some of my poems for children in publications for adults, such as a Melbourne Poets’ Union chapbook, “Kickers & Knockers”, and the “Short & Twisted” anthologies, published by Celapene Press.
7. Anthologies are often places for poets to seek publication. How would you suggest a new poet find out about upcoming anthologies?
This is a very good question. I’d love to know the answer to this myself! So far, it’s been pretty much a matter of “hit or miss” for me!
8. Have you published a collection of your own poems? Where would we find a copy?
In recent years I have returned to writing for adults also, and I have self-published several collections of these. Details can be found here:
I have resisted self-publishing a collection of my poems for children, as I still hope to find a trade publisher.
9. What are you working on at the moment?
I continue to write a couple of poems a week. There’s no grand plan. Whatever takes my fancy!
10. Do you have a website?
Only the page on the Australian Bush Poets’ Association (ABPA) web-site I have already provided. I’ve been thinking for a while of getting my own web-site, but I’m not sure what I’d do with it!
11. Do you have a favourite poetry website?
Yes, the ABPA website. Bush poets write mostly for adults, but there are also a number of children’s poets. I have posted a number of my poems here (for both children and adults), and I regularly post reports on festivals I have attended, or contribute to the general discussions, which are many and varied, and often very lively!
12. Would you like to share one of your poems with us?
Dad Meets The Martians
A flying saucer came last night.
It landed in the drive.
I warned the crew, “My dad parks there.
He’ll eat you all alive!”
Dad pulled up bad tempered,
But his frown became a smile
When he saw the flying saucer,
And he said, “I like their style!”
He then addressed the Martians,
“Will you take me for a spin?
They replied, “It’s new. Imported
Straight from Venus. Come on in!”
They flew ‘round Earth a dozen times,
And visited a star.
Then they asked my dad if he
Would drive them in his car.
I simply can’t explain it.
I’d have thought that they’d be bored
But dad now drives a saucer.
The Martians drive a Ford.
© Stephen Whiteside 05.09.91
First published in “Orbit” magazine, April 1995 (Volume 80, Number 3), by the New South Wales Department of Education and Training.
Also published by The University of New South Wales Educational Testing Centre in 1998 as stimulus material for a Learning Assessment Project.
Also published in “School Journal” 2001 (Part 3, Number 2) by Learning Media Limited, Wellington, New Zealand, for the Ministry of Education. (Published in both poem and song version on School Journal Part 3 and Part 4 CD in 2001.)
Also published in “Orbit” magazine, November 2003 (Volume 88, Number 10), by the New South Wales Department of Education and Training.
Also published in “Cricket” magazine, January 2006 (Volume 33, Number 5), by Carus Publishing in the US.
Also published in “Blast Off” magazine, September 2008 (Volume 93, Number 8), by the New South Wales Department of Education and Training.
Also published in “Big Book of Verse for Aussie Kids”, by Allen & Unwin, November 2009