In every issue of Alphabet Soup magazine we print an interview with an author or illustrator. We can’t fit all their answers into an issue of the magazine, so we publish the full interviews on the blog—we wouldn’t want you to miss out!
For issue 14 we talked to Lorraine Marwood. Lorraine is a poet, and the author of many books including Star Jumps, and Note on the Door, and A Ute Picnic.
What made you become a writer/poet?
I don’t think that anything ‘made’ me become a writer. It was a heartfelt feeling when I was about 8 years old—that was all I secretly ever wanted to do. And I never ever lost that longing. Or that passion for writing and reading.
Was it easy to get your first poem published? (Your first book/book of poems?)
No not at all. It wasn’t till I was about 16 years old that my first poem was published and that was after much writing and submitting—but what a thrill it was.
My first book of poems came after I’d had my children and was still farming. And it only came after I’d notched up publishing credits in literary magazines—a bit like an apprenticeship in poetry.
Where do you get your inspiration and ideas?
From everything happening around me—little incidents, nature, my family, newspapers, what I read and of course big doses of thinking and jotting down.
Did you read poetry when you were growing up?
My teacher read us classic poetry like Banjo Paterson, Wordsworth and we had a class reader for the year and we always read the poems in that (but as a teenager I discovered T.S. Eliot and a Russian poet called Yevtushenko). But we mainly read rhyming poetry which was also mainly English poets.
Did you have a favourite poet/poem/book of poetry when you were growing up?
T. S Eliot ‘The journey of the Magi,’ and also Australian Bruce Dawe.
Is your poetry influenced by particular poets/writers?
Yes, I think I’m influenced by those poets I really admire—like ee cummings, I love the freedom and rhythm of his work; Bruce Dawe’s Vietnam poem—‘They’re bringing them home'; T.S Eliot; Sue Cowling; ‘FiveBells’ by Australian poet Kenneth Slessor; Judith Wright; and now I read lots of children’s poets. I think I’m influenced by those poets who tell a story, a narrative, that surprise and use their poetic craft really well.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I love to make things—sew, bead, garden, pot up cuttings, read, make cards, op shop—they are creative things to do (well, for me!) think, wonder, pray.
Do you mostly write on paper or on a computer?
Now that’s an interesting question because for poetry I like to write in one of my notebooks, but for stories I write on my laptop.
Is there a difference in the way you approach writing a poem and writing a verse novel?
Yes, a poem is a little unit on its own with beginning, middle and end. But a verse novel is many components that lead on and borrow from story telling—it’s a more ‘prosy’ way of writing, where a poem is tiny and delicious like a ripe strawberry.
Are you working on a collection of poems or a book at the moment?
I am working on another collection of poems—so for that, I need to aim for about 100 new poems. At the moment I’m thinking of section headings or groupings for the poems, a bit like chapters in a book. This collection will be entirely new. And as I write, I’ve already finished another verse novel—again entirely different from my other verse novels in content and for a slightly older age group—but awaiting the green light from my publisher.
Do you have any advice for young poets?
Yes, write whenever you can. Start with lists of what is around you—lines of three or four words, get all the details down and use those wonderful senses too. Keep these jottings in a note book, put the date on them and keep them. Look back over them and see if any ideas for a fuller poem can be found.
No lines of writing are ever wasted, they lead you on a journey to becoming a writer/poet. It’s such a surprise to see what comes from your pen or keyboard. And a such a pleasure to read again after a few weeks or months have gone by …
Find out more about Lorraine Marwood and her books and poetry—visit her website, or check out a bookstore or library near you!