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.
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!


Three Quick Questions: Jackie Hosking #16

All through October, Alphabet Soup is celebrating turning three. We have heaps of writers and illustrators stopping by to answer THREE QUICK QUESTIONS and today’s visitor is poet Jackie Hosking. You might have seen some of her poems in The School Magazine, The Scrumbler and in Alphabet Soup! You’ll also find her writing in the anthology Short and Scary.

Alphabet Soup issue 5 cover"Short and scary (cover)"


1. Where do you like to write?

I love to write in bed with a nice cup of tea.

2. Can you name a book you’d recommend to our readers?

Anything by Lorraine Marwood. A Ute Picnic is brilliant and I’m about to read Note on the Door. Her poetry is so accessible and beautiful to read.

A Ute Picnic
Jackie recommends A Ute Picnic by Lorraine Marwood
note on the door (cover)
Jackie also recommends Note on the Door by Lorraine Marwood


3. Can you offer a word or phrase that kids could use for inspiration if they have writer’s block?

One of my favourite unblockers is the phrase ‘Once upon a time … ‘ It seems to unlock the door to possibilities. So if you’re stuck, just write Once upon a time … and see what happens.

You can find out more about Jackie Hosking in an earlier interview (or keep an eye out for our November issue which will include one of Jackie’s poems).

© October 2011 “Three Quick Questions with Jackie Hosking” by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)

(Psst … don’t forget to enter our birthday giveaways—entries close at midnight tonight, Perth time )