We’re very pleased to have Lorraine Marwood visiting us at Alphabet Soup today. Lorraine writes verse novels and poetry collections for children and she has a new poetry collection coming out in 2015. Here’s the cover in all its glory!
Your earlier poetry collections have themes (‘notes’ and ‘animals’). Does your upcoming collection have a theme?
Yes my new book does have a theme — ‘Celebrations!’ And the title reflects this. Celebrating Australia: a year in poetry.
When you were writing poems for this collection , did you set out to write to a particular theme? Or did a theme emerge?
Yes the theme began the collection and I began to research those celebrations that I had little first hand knowledge about — the journey was fascinating.
How long did it take you to finish this book?
About 18 months, some poems had to be re-written completely to suit the overall nature of the collection.
How do you choose which poems to include (and which poems to leave out) for a collection?
Ah, a good question. I wrote in batches — for example I researched ideas and words for the Valentine’s day poem and after the initial draft my editor suggested it needed to be more grounded in what kids might do — this is where a refrain came in to make the poem flow: ‘cutie pie, cutie pie, my high five, be mine forever.’ It was hard trying to make something like Bastille day or United Nations day poetic. My editor suggested significant milestone celebrations in the Australian calendar and I chose some myself like ‘International dot day’ and ‘Talk like a pirate day.’
I tried to make a variety of formats for the poems, including some with refrains, even one that rhymes, some humourous, some grounded in image and emotion.
Do you have a tip for young writers who want to try writing in free verse?
I think a good way to begin is to think of using images. Here’s an example. Let’s liken the sky to:
a crinkle of aluminum foil or a smudge of vanilla yoghurt.
It can be set out like this:
the sky is like a crinkle of aluminum foil
Have a go! Look at the sky right now and think of an object or a colour in your fridge or kitchen and liken the sky to that — it will make the sky more visual, more sensory, more striking for the reader and that’s what we want, to be different and move away from cliché. Sometimes rhyming leads us into cliché.
Is there anything else you can tell us about Celebrating Australia: a year in poetry?
I loved the hard work put into my collection by my editor and the final finishing touches by graphic designer Amy Daoud. For me each poem was a mini story in itself — with its own research, own format, own rhythm and own beginning and end. I learnt so much about other culture’s celebrations and embraced the whole multi-cultural feel of Australia right now.
I am planning for a launch with the Bendigo, Goldfields library in February, can’t wait!
Interview with Lorraine Marwood © November 2014 Lorraine Marwood & Rebecca Newman