MEET THE POET
Kristin Martin writes poetry for adults and children. Her poetry has been published in poetry collections as well as in magazines in Australia, UK and Ireland.
Kristin lives in South Australia in a house near the sea with her husband, two children, three turtles, lots of goldfish, and a bearded dragon named Ash. Her latest children’s poetry collection is called To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme? (illustrated by Joanne Knott).
From the publisher:
A stunning collection of children’s poetry with a focus on the natural world. Poems truly are all around us, and in this collection Kristin Martin shares her love of nature and sense of fun on each and every page. Joanne Knott’s exquisite illustrations bring the animals and natural environment to magical life.
On with the questions!
When you’re putting together a poetry collection, how do you choose which poems to include and which poems to leave out?
When I was putting together my children’s poetry book, To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme? (which is published by a small independent publisher called Glimmer Press) I decided to only include poems that have something to do with nature: animals, plants, the sea or clouds. As most of the poems I write are inspired by nature, this was easy. I wanted roughly half the book to be made of rhyming poems, and half of non-rhyming poems, so I picked out my favourite rhyming nature poems, then actually had to write some more poems to have enough poems that don’t rhyme. It is much easier to write poems that don’t rhyme.
Do you have a tip for kids who would like to write rhyming poetry?
My tip for writing rhyming poetry is to read lots of rhyming poetry, and work out what the poet has done. Look at the syllables, and where the beats are in the words (where the natural stress falls when you read it aloud). I also suggest you ask someone else to read your rhyming poem aloud to you – then you can hear if it sounds right, or if there are any ‘clunks’ in it.
Do you have a favourite poem for performing/reciting to an audience?
My favourite poem changes all the time, but my current favourite is this, as it is fun to read aloud and have children guess what it is about. It is actually a (mostly) true poem, based on our family pet, Ash.
There’s a Dragon in my Bedroom by Kristin Martin There’s a dragon in my bedroom with a long and scaly tail. She has spikes around her collar that are sharper than a nail. There’s a dragon in my bedroom with four sets of razor claws. She has rows of sharp incisors set inside her fearsome jaws. There’s a dragon in my bedroom who’s out tracking down her prey. When she’s hungry and she’s hunting then I stay out of her way. There’s a dragon in my bedroom who adores her daily meal. When she finds those jumping crickets she just snaps them up with zeal. There’s a dragon in my bedroom who’s the nicest one I’ve met. She’s a baby bearded dragon and she’s my beloved pet. (from To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme? Published by Glimmer Press, 2019)
Do you have a tip for kids who would like to try performing/reciting poetry themselves?
Before Covid, I used to help organise a poetry performance evening at the school I teach at called ‘Rap, Rhyme and Rhythm’. My tips for the students performing, and any other students who want to perform or recite poetry, are to make sure you understand the poem when you learn it, then recite it to put across the meaning, rather than focussing on the rhymes. If it’s funny, make sure the audience can hear the jokes and have time to laugh. If it’s sad, make sure the audience hears the sadness in your voice.
Can you tell us a bit about what you’re currently working on?
I’ve just completed my next poetry collection, which has 75 rhyming poems in it. The illustrator, Joanne Knott, is working on the pictures – I can’t wait to see them. It should be out next year. I am currently working on several rhyming picture books. I am at the editing stage, which is my favourite part of writing.
To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme? is out now! Ask for it at your favourite bookstore, at your local library, or you can buy a copy from the publisher.
Download Kristin Martin’s Teachers’ Notes for To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme?
Read some more poems by Kristin Martin on her website