Posted in authors, poetry

Lorraine Marwood: writing a verse novel

Today we’re super excited to have Lorraine Marwood visiting Alphabet Soup to talk about writing verse novels. Lorraine is an award winning Australian writer of novels, verse novels and poetry for children.

Lorraine’s latest book, Leave Taking, is about a boy and his family who are leaving their farm forever after the death of Toby’s younger sister.

Leave taking by Lorraine Marwood. Book cover.

What bought you to write Leave Taking as a verse novel?

That’s an interesting question. Often I’m asked if I write ‘normal’ stories, meaning all prose. The answer is yes I do — not everything I write is poetry or verse novels, except when the subject matter calls for a stronger emotional framework, then I use poetry. Sometimes it’s my natural voice; sometimes I sketch a character out in prose poetry much like an artist might sketch a character. Because Leave Taking has an emotional tug of saying goodbye to both a beloved place and a beloved family member, my natural instinct was to treat the story in a special prose poetry way.

For me this technique is quick and it also provides different layers for the reader to climb on and it allows us to cry or laugh at the time the reader feels a heartstrings pull.

A verse novel way of writing is like wearing a piece of comfortable clothing; I can confidently build an atmosphere and that is a huge gateway for me to enter the story. I have to feel the right atmosphere to plunge in.

What do you find most challenging about writing verse novels?

This way of writing does have pitfalls. For me it’s probably not to strike out in prose too much when it’s a blend of poetry and prose together.  And to keep that consistency of words to a line and to write more rather than less, which I tend to do as a poet. I try to paint a bare sensory picture for the reader to experience and that allows them to come to the story with their own ideas and reactions.

Do you have a tip for young writers who’d like to have a go at writing a verse novel?

  • Start out with a tale you know well and cut it down and put your own slant on it.
  • Try for short sentences and short phrases.
  • Try to give lots of senses and details.

Here’s a start of a well-known tale — continue on! Using first person voice is a good choice for a verse novel.

Aladdin

I am waiting, watching.
My mother said, ‘Go and hunt
for bargains in the market.’

There are shouts of stall holders,
banners flapping in the breeze.
‘Pies, fresh bananas, best in town!’
‘Silk, wool, rugs, soft and hardwearing!’

And amongst all the bleats of sheep,
or goats, I hear a musical voice;
‘Lamps, I buy old lamps, I pay good money!’
Now you continue on — try for 7 or 8 words a line.

Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on next?

I have written a ‘normal’ big book, a fantasy, a genre I love. I have written another verse novel, which is under contract with University of Queensland Press, and always I write poetry and have some school writing workshops coming up.

Thanks for asking me these insightful questions.  And happy verse novel writing everyone — have a go!

Interview answers © Lorraine Marwood 2019.


Leave Taking has been shortlisted for the 2019 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award (Younger Readers category), AND shortlisted for the 2019 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

You can read earlier interviews with Lorraine Marwood here.

Posted in authors, poetry

Pass the book baton: Lorraine Marwood

PASS THE BOOK BATON

It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Every week Alphabet Soup features a book creator who will answer one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

Today the book baton is passed to Lorraine Marwood. Lorraine is an award-winning writer of novels, verse novels and poetry. You might recognise some of these books:

Last week Kylie Howarth asked:
Which poem or book you have written means the most to you?

Lorraine Marwood answers:

Ah, a perennial question that is often asked and at different stages or times in my writing journey there would be different answers.

Of course my first book picked up way back in 1999 part of the superdooper series ‘Rainbow Toes’ was a very exciting experience — even when the editor said I had to work on my ending before it was accepted. I was determined and still love this book today.

Or I could chose my first verse novel with Walker books Ratwhiskers and Me which allowed me to explore my love of history and my love of poetry in a fast paced narrative.

Then again I could choose my second verse novel Star Jumps, which was written in tears and shows life on a real live dairy farm as drought hits. This novel won the inaugural children’s section of the Prime Minister’s literary awards. So I love it because it celebrates my children’s growing up years and because it validated me as an author.

Or it could be my latest manuscript written last year at a May Gibbs literary fellowship in Brisbane. This one is close because it touches on grief — again another verse novel.

And poetry? I love writing poems mainly for children but continue to write literary poetry and be published in this genre too.

My latest collection Celebrating Australia: a year in poetry was a challenge to write, to research different celebrations (because I believe poetry should reflect facts as well as emotion) and to construct the poems in different ways.

A favourite poem from this collection was one on Christmas. My editor didn’t quite like the poem I’d already written and said to write a new one. I did, about a boy chosen to be the donkey in the nativity play, although he had no idea of what was going on — his friend Tiff kept explaining all the way through until he surprises himself and the reader right at the end. I love it when the right tone comes through for me and then the poem flows. Funny how my writing reflects my life because when I’d written that poem (the editor loved it by the way) my grandson was selected to be the donkey in his preschool play!

As my life continues on with many unexpected twists and new horizons, I love that my writing can help me adjust to new situations, to find meaning and to share this with my readers.

Poetry has the power to express what is on the inside and this is sometimes hidden to the poet too. So each new direction I take produces work which reflects that and looking back each poem or story contains the essence of that experience. So there are no favourites in my writing, just deep gratitude that writing is what I must do no matter what.

For more info about Lorraine Marwood and her books and poetry, visit http://lorrainemarwood.com or check out her blog http://lorrainemarwoodwordsintowriting.blogspot.com.au/


All the Lost ThingsAnd now Lorraine Marwood passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Kelly Canby. Kelly is an author-illustrator living in Perth, WA.

Lorraine asks:
“I see you do illustrations for a range of children’s genres, as well as colouring books!  Can you tell us a bit about your illustrative journey and what you’d passionately love to draw in the future?  Thanks.”
..
Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators.
 ..
See you next week!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Posted in poetry, Soup Blog Poetry Festival

Chat with a poet: Lorraine Marwood

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!

Celebrating Australia

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:

Today
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.

Lorraine Marwood
Lorraine Marwood, reading Guinea Pig Town to some of her grandchildren.

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!

To find out more about Lorraine Marwood and her poetry and books, visit her website. And check out our other interviews with Lorraine here and here.

Interview with Lorraine Marwood © November 2014 Lorraine Marwood & Rebecca Newman

 

Posted in poetry, Soup Blog Poetry Festival

Visiting poet – Lorraine Marwood

Lorraine Marwood
Lorraine Marwood

Today we welcome Lorraine Marwood to the blog — Lorraine writes verse novels and poetry and you would have read several of her poems in Alphabet Soup!

note on the door (cover)

Stary Jumps (cover)

When did you first start writing poetry?

I began as a teenager, so probably 15 years old, but before that I was writing down ideas and little stories for many years.

What sort of poetry do you like writing best of all?

Poetry that doesn’t rhyme but shows in different ways a moment in time or an emotion, and still has all the strong features of poetry, like rhythm, strongest words, images, sensory details, emotion.

What sort of poetry do you like reading?

Contemporary poetry written by Australians; poems in The School Magazine, NSW; anthologies like 100 Australian poets, so I read many poets in the one book. Also poetry by young writers and I enjoy reading the results of the Dorothea Mackellar poetry competition.

Where can we read your poetry?

I have had six collections of poems published — the most recent one is Guinea Pig town and other animal poems with Walker Books Australia. I’ve had lots of poems published in magazines, here in Australia, UK, USA and Canada. And I always love to be published in The School Magazine and of course Alphabet Soup — well, I wish that was still going.

guinea pig town

Here’s one of the poems from Guinea Pig town and other animal poems:

A peek inside Guinea Pig Town and other animal poems

[click on the image to enlarge it]

How often do you write?

I’d like to say everyday — well I do write but some days its emails, administration or reworking a piece, then other days it’s intense writing, but always I’m thinking about my poems, an idea, a story, what happens next …

Do you prefer to write with a pen and paper or straight onto the computer?

That’s a good question. I like to write poetry with a pen in one of my current notebooks. I often write when traveling or out for the day. I can jot down ideas I see or an idea that strikes. Poetry to me needs this special touch, but for stories I type right onto my laptop.

What’s your number one tip for budding poets?

Keep a notebook you can take with you.  Jot down anything that catches your eye. Train yourself to be observant, because the strongest writing uses those details that others skim over.

Lorraine’s Poetry Prescription

IF YOU’RE HAVING A RUSHING, BUSTLING DAY — read the following poem:

‘Wilderness’ by Carl Sandburg.

To find out more about Lorraine Marwood and her books and poetry, check out her website and read an earlier post featuring Lorraine.

Interview with Lorraine Marwood © 2013 Lorraine Marwood and Rebecca Newman https://soupblog.wordpress.com

 

Posted in poetry

Poetry Appraisal with Lorraine Marwood

Lorraine Marwood
Lorraine Marwood

Today we are so pleased to have Lorraine Marwood here to tell us a bit about her poetry writing, and the prize she is donating for the winner in the Most Outstanding Poem category of the Alphabet Soup Creativity Award. (We’ll be announcing the winner on Friday, so stay tuned!)

Over to you, Lorraine!
I have written many, many poems and had them published in places like The School Magazine in New South Wales (and Alphabet Soup of course) and USA magazine Cricket.  I love the way a poem can become a little image of a snapshot of  a moment in a day.
I have two collections of poems published with Walker Books:  A Ute Picnic and Other Australian Poems and Note on the Door and Other Poems About Family Life.  I have just completed a third collection of poems with Walker—Guinea Pig Town and Other Poems About Animals and this will come out in 2013.
note on the door (cover)
Stary Jumps (cover)

I also like to write verse novels.  Star Jumps won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award (children’s category) in 2010, and Ratwhiskers and Me is set on the Victorian goldfields.  Imagining what it would have been like to live in times gone by is another way of writing that I enjoy.  I love researching and reading all about those times too.  I never know when an idea will suddenly take hold and grow into a poem or a book.
Look out for my Aussie Nibbles titles too—The Girl Who Turned into Treacle and Chantelle’s Cloak.
I have a website all about my books, and a blog where I often write about projects and inspiration and travels.
Chantelle's Cloak (cover)
 The Girl Who Turned Into Treacle
Walker Books also has notes on my books and each time I write a poetry technique so it’s often a good idea to look here also.
My poetry appraisal/mentoring will contain feedback on what makes a poem stand out from the crowd, how to continue writing, where ideas for poems come from, tools that poets use, how to make a few words sparkle and dance, and suggestions for reading poetry, too.
The winner will email me their poem of up to 15 lines (non rhyming and double spaced) for comment.
I will also provide a copy of one of my poetry collections A Ute Picnic and Other Australian Poems, and I’ll include some suggestions on how to pattern a poem from some of mine in the book.
A Ute Picnic (cover)
Children who have had poetry published in the Write On! section of a 2012 issue of Alphabet Soup are in the running for this fantastic prize. These children will be entered automatically. We will announce the winner on Friday and will contact the winner directly.
If you’d like to submit your story or poem for possible publication in a 2013 issue of the magazine, read the submission guidelines on our website.
Posted in authors, poetry

Meet the Author: Lorraine Marwood

Lorraine Marwood, author and poet
Lorraine Marwood

 

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.

note on the door (cover)A Ute Picnic (cover)

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.

Stary Jumps (cover)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!

Posted in Events

Book Launch of Chantelle’s Cloak by Lorraine Marwood (VIC)

Chantelle's Cloak (cover)If you live in Bendigo (Victoria), come along to the launch of Chantelle’s Cloak, the new Aussie Nibble by Lorraine Marwood (ill. Jocelyn Bell)

This family event will feature a reading from Narelle Stone, live harp music, sales and signings, and cup-cakes.

Guests are invited to wear a cape and participate in a Magical Cape Parade to be in the running to win great prizes.

Where: Bendigo Library, 259 Hargreaves St, Bendigo VIC

When: Wednesday September 28, 2011 6pm to 7pm

Ages: All ages!

RSVP: Tammy Higgs (03) 54492771 or e.tammyh@ncgrl.vic.gov.au

READ AN EXTRACT of the book on the publisher’s website.

Posted in authors, illustrator, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the book baton: Kelly Canby

PASS THE BOOK BATON

It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Every week Alphabet Soup features a book creator who will answer one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

Kelly Canby

Today the book baton is passed to Kelly Canby. Kelly is an internationally published illustrator and author of picture books, early reader books, chapter books, and colouring books. She lives in Western Australia — you can see her above, busy drawing and painting.

You might recognise some of these books:

Last week Lorraine Marwood asked:
Hello Kelly, I see you do illustrations for a range of children’s genres, as well as colouring books!  Can you tell us a bit about your illustrative journey and what you’d passionately love to draw in the future?

Kelly Canby answers:
Thanks for the question, Lorraine! My illustrative journey begins many years ago at university. I studied design at Curtin where I majored in Illustration and minored in Graphic Design and Advertising. When I graduated I freelanced for while as an illustrator for advertising agencies and eventually landed a full time graphic design job with the design studio of my dreams. From there I moved between working in design studios and advertising agencies until I became senior designer at a very wonderful, very creative and fun (really fun) design studio.

Then I needed to do something completely different so I bought a florist. And I made flower arrangements.

And once that was out of my system, I started to think about design and illustration again. Also, around this time, I was buying a lot of picture books for my son and I fell completely in love with them knew that’s what I had to do. I had to make children’s books for the rest of my life! So I hopped online and discovered SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators), I made myself a portfolio of work, got an agent and began. That was about 4 and half years ago and since then I have illustrated around 14 books, written and illustrated one picture book, with another picture book that I’ve written in the works with Fremantle Press as I type, and I’m having so much fun doing it all.

As for what I’d passionately love to draw in the future … Well, on the very top of my wish list for a long time was to illustrate a middle grade novel with lots and lots of detailed, full page, black and white drawings, which I happen to be doing right now with Allen & Unwin so I am one very happy illustrator, indeed!

Visit Kelly Canby’s website to find out more about her and her books: kellycanby.com


PlatypusAnd now Kelly Canby passes the baton to the next visitor — Sue Whiting.

Sue writes picture books, chapter books and novels for teens.

Kelly asks:
Hi Sue, my question for you is, when you’re in the planning stage of a new book, do you prefer to work in a quiet space where it’s just you and your thoughts or do you head out to cafes and parks where you’re surrounded by outside sources of inspiration – people/colour/activity – to help develop your ideas?
..
Pass the book baton is taking a break for the school holidays. The series will resume at the end of April.
 ..
See you then!
Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Posted in authors, illustrator, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the book baton: Kylie Howarth

PASS THE BOOK BATON

It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Every week Alphabet Soup features a book creator who will answer one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

Today the book baton is passed to picture book author and illustrator, Kylie Howarth. Kylie’s books have been published in Australia, New Zealand, France and the USA. She grew up in the country with a dog, sheep, orphaned kangaroos and even an echidna.

Last week Geoff Havel asked:
How much of your love of stories and your ability to write them comes from your own childhood on a farm and how much comes from being surrounded by children now?

Kylie Howarth answers:
I do draw from my own childhood and now more than ever appreciate all the experiences my parents gave me. Not every kid had pet kangaroos or spent a year traveling around Australia. As a child I loved drawing and have always been fond of animals and the beach, which are both reoccurring themes in my books.

That being said I am now focused on creating stories that my children love. Their interests and personalities are definitely the biggest inspiration for my work. They contribute so much to my books too as I am constantly tweaking text and layouts based on their reactions and feedback. We also create paintings together in our backyard art sessions, which I then scan and use as textures in my illustrations.

For more info about Kylie Howarth and her books (and colouring sheets and craft activities), visit www.kyliehowarth.com


Celebrating Australia: a year in poetry (cover)And now Kylie Howarth passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Lorraine Marwood. Lorraine is an award-winning children’s author and poet. Her most recent poetry collection is Celebrating Australia: A Year in Poetry.

Kylie asks:
“Which of your poems or books means the most to you?”
..
Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators.
 ..
See you next week!

Save

Save

Save

Posted in Recommended reading

Top Reads (March 2015)

Here at Alphabet Soup, March has been quite rainy (and poem-y, too!). As well as posting your work to the blog, we ran a giveaway for a copy of Lorraine Marwood’s latest poetry collection, and we managed to squeeze in two author interviews (Frané Lessac and A.L. Tait). A very busy month!

Since today is the last day of March, that must mean it’s time for our team of Top Readers to stop by and nominate their favourite reads from this month. Here are some good books to add to your ‘must read’ list:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We publish a recommended list from our Top Reading Team on the last day of every month. If you missed last month’s, don’t forget to check out the Top Reads from February 2015.