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 poetry, Young Writers in Action

FIRE (Young Writers in Action)

FIRE
by Anishka, 9, QLD

The blazing flame,
Is never the same,
Cutting through the wood,
In its usual fairy mood.
Smoke fills the sky,
The fire destroys anything in its way,
The flame spreading on the road.
The fire has a feeling,
Which goes over the ceiling,
Anger and fury, hot and burning.
The rain soon makes its way,
Giving a single sun ray.
Coolness all around,
Blackness on the ground.
Fire has finished.
Rain has won,
What a mystery on its own.


Anishka is a regular contributor to Alphabet Soup. You can read her earlier work here.

Posted in poetry, Young Writers in Action

Young Writers in Action: Ballet

Ballet
by Hannah, 12, QLD

Pointe shoes made of pink satinI love Ballet class, for all the wrong reasons.
It’s like a comedy with varying seasons.
I watch Miss Lavender, all duck face
Boom 1. 2. 3. while watching dancers at fast pace.

There is perfect Darcy strutting around.
Nose in the air, toes pointing to the ground,
Sniffing competition, having beaten everyone.
Leotard sparkling and her hair in the latest bun.

Then there is Porscha running in late,
one ballet shoe on, and that is her fate.
A black jelly bean has stained her leotard.
Her tight bun has stopped Miss from frowning hard.

And Alena is the class clown, cunningly,
waiting for Miss Lavender to turn around.
Pulling faces and not a care in the world.
While putting a smile on every girl.

One time Miss caught Alena in the act,
but she made a quick recovery with tact.
“Sorry I just got something caught in my teeth!”
immediately turning to first position with her feet.

Ava is nowhere to be seen when class starts.
“Where is that child?” Miss Lavender asks.
“Hiding in the dressing room” Darcy tells.
Ava says Pointe class is like going to hell.

Kayla is a beautiful dancer but she is full of doubt.
She sneaks to the back but the teachers still shout.
Always trying her hardest, this girl is strong.
Tears always rolling, she is proving them wrong.

Of course Zoe is still off with the fairies.
“Child, do you even know what a Pas de duex is”?
“Um, er, um…and she trys, landing flat with a… no Miss.”
She always looks away and blushes while saying this.

We have such different lives, personalities and bodies.
But when we dance we come together like sisters at ease.
We compete in the Eisteddfods and win.
Blending together as one, limb within limb.


This is Hannah’s first poem for Alphabet Soup. To send us YOUR story, poem, artwork or book review, check out our submission guidelines.

Posted in poetry, Young Writers in Action

Young writers in action: Lest We Forget

LEST WE FORGET
Emma, 12, SA

The rain gently climbs over the bodies in turn, washing away our sorrow and misery.
We observe the world crashing and burning … I close my eyes and breathe.

Thousands of men trudge home, single file,
wondering if they are free from the horrors that haunt them I sit and watch close, though it feels like a mile …
I close my eyes and breathe.

We check our wounded and count our dead. Too few alive, too many gone from this world. Feeling Heavy with the tears unshed …
I close my eyes and breathe.

Even those I never got to know
I promise I will tell your story
I promise one day the world will know … I close my eyes and breathe

Their story is what I will live and die for Their story is what I bled and shot for
So their pain shall be known evermore … I close my eyes and breathe

Lest We Forget


You can read more of Emma’s work hereTo send us YOUR story, poem, artwork or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in poetry, Young Writers in Action

Young Writers in Action: Seashell

SEASHELL
by Anishka, 8, QLD

I saw a seashell,
To mum and dad, I might tell,
No way, I’ll keep it a secret,
Anyway, we just met.

Inside it wiggles a bit,
Like someone’s head invaded with nits.
It squirms and wiggles,
Zig-zagging like scribbles.
I wonder what is inside,
Maybe something washed in through the tide.

It could be treasure or gold,
Or a tent that can fold.
I’m getting silly, those things don’t move,
They don`t scamper on my roof.

An animal peeps out of the shell,
And climbs out then it fell!
I play with it all day long,
Keeping the secret all day long,

Saying goodbye, off I run,
Today is already done!


Anishka is a regular contributor to Alphabet Soup — you can read all her earlier work here.

Posted in poetry, Young Writers in Action

Young writers in action: The Mosquito

THE MOSQUITO
by Emma, 12, SA

Girl with a shocked look on her face and brown hair. Photo by pexels.com

Floating in the wind
As graceful as a leaf
Yet as direct as a fly
I soar and I dip
I twirl and I float
I see and I dive
I have ears and I have eyes
Be aware of my presence.

Can you see me?

I can see you
In the car, on a bench
Or maybe in your slumber
Can you hear me?
Can you feel my bite?
The cry of an itch
Piercing through your skin
I am stealthy
Attacking the oblivious
Stabbing you from behind
Like a warrior on a hunt

I like to annoy
I like to cause trouble
My small frame allows me
To attack from every direction
Creeping through the cracks and the gaps you forgot to fill
Perhaps I am smarter than you think
I can see past your mirage
Your illusion like hope
That I won’t approach
Oh you have got it all wrong
But you will have to pay

You can clap or slap
Or bring me to a light
But you shall never catch me,
A small warrior in a fight
Even out of the heat,
Or the summer season
My bite will still find you
Will sink into your skin
Will bring tears to the eye
As you try to stop the feeling
Of the tingle, of the itch
Crawling across your skin
Like a ripple in the ocean


This is Emma’s first poem for Alphabet Soup. To send us YOUR story, poem, artwork or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in poetry, Young Writers in Action

Young Writers in Action: Colourful Tulips

A field of tulips and cherry blossom. Photo from Pexels.com

COLOURFUL TULIPS
by Gabriel, 7, NSW

Colourful tulips shooting from the ground all around the place
Birds are chirping and singing here and there
Beautiful butterflies fly everywhere you look
You can smell lovely roses
Buzzing bees work hard collecting pollen for honey
Soft new green leaves slowly grow out from the cherry blossom branches.


Gabriel is a regular contributer to Alphabet Soup. You can read some of his earlier work here. If YOU would like to send us a story, drawing, poem, or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy writing!