Happy World Poetry Day!

In 1999, the United Nations declared March 21st as World Poetry Day. That’s today!

Here are some of our favourite Australian poets. On their websites you’ll find out a bit about them and quite often they have snippets of poetry to show you …
Elizabeth Honey
Janeen Brian
Kathryn Apel
Jackie Hosking
Lorraine Marwood
Sally Murphy
Sally Odgers
Sherryl Clark
Steven Herrick
Rebecca Newman
Teena Raffa-Mulligan
Stephen Whiteside
Claire Saxby

and a bonus site: Poetry Tag.

Today is a great day to share a poem with a friend, recite a poem to your family (or even better — with your family!), leave a poem lying around for someone to find or post a poem to someone who would enjoy it. Happy World Poetry Day!

What’s your favourite poem?

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:

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


poetry, Soup Blog Poetry Festival

Visiting poet – Janeen Brian

Janeen Brian

Today we have Janeen Brian visiting Soup Blog to talk about her poetry and poetry-writing. (Janeen also writes picture books, short stories, nonfiction and novels. She’s a busy writer!)

When did you first start writing poetry?

I can’t remember writing anything much at all as a child, so I’d guess I began writing poetry in my late twenties or early thirties.

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

Both rhyming and free verse. I tend to use rhyme for more of my humorous pieces, but not exclusively. I love the word-manipulation, the struggle and the joy of creating rhyme. Free verse excites me too, but for a different reason. There, I aim to convey something to the reader by way of a new point-of view, a twist at the end, a particular rhythmic pattern, or a feeling. I love selecting the right word. It can take hours, or longer. But when it does — oh, what a feeling!

What sort of poetry do you like reading?

I love reading ballads, humorous, quirky, clever verses, verse novels, free verse and rhyming verse. I prefer reading children’s poetry because that’s the main area in which I write, but I also read adult poetry and have also written in that field.

Where can we find your poetry?

My poetry has been included in the following anthologies:

  • 100 Australian Poems for Children
  • There was a big fish (limericks)
  • Christmas Crackers
  • Fractured Fairytales and Ruptured Rhymes
  • Four and Twenty Lamingtons
  • Petrifying Poems
  • Stay Loose Mother Goose
  • Off the Planet
  • Vile Verse
  • Putrid Poems
  • Side by Side
  • Machino Supremo

(Tadpoles in the Torrens due for release September, 2013. Our Home is Dirt by Sea due for release 2014)

By jingo!Books of my own poetry:

  • By Jingo!
  • Silly Galah!
  • Nature’s Way A-Z of biodiversity.

(Our Village in the Sky due for release 2014)

Rhyming picture books:

  • I’m a dirty dinosaur
  • Meet Ned Kelly
  • I Spy Mum!
  • I Spy Dad!
  • The super parp-buster!
  • Shirl and the Wollomby Show
  • Columbia Sneezes.

Over 150 poems have been published nationally and internationally in the following magazines:

  • The School Magazine
  • the Victorian Education Magazines
  • Spider
  • Ladybird
  • Ladybug
  • Contagious.

Comma Dog © Janeen Brian

There’s a comma
of a dog
lying on the mat.
Dozing belly and
curl of tail
ears no longer
playtime exclamation marks
eyes closed as hyphens
and soft brackets of sighs
snuffling from
that comma of a dog
in a circle
of sun.

Published in The School Magazine: Orbit. May 2012

How often do you write?

I write every day. It might be my diary, my ideas book, some research notes, a page of practice writing, a draft of a poem or story or rewriting earlier drafts of work.

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

Note-taking, ideas gathering, early paragraphs or lines of poetry are mostly done by hand with pen and paper (an exercise book), but I gradually take the work onto the computer and work from there on.

What’s your number one tip for budding poets?

Choose a book of poetry. Write out several poems that you like and then work out how the poet has written them. Think and discover. And practise.

Janeen’s Poetry Prescription corner

IF YOU’RE HAVING A SHAMBLY DAY — read the following poem:

‘Cat Burial’ (from Note on the Door by Lorraine Marwood).

Some books by Janeen Brian

For even more about Janeen Brian and her books and poetry — visit her website!

Interview with Janeen Brian © 2013 Janeen Brian and Rebecca Newman https://soupblog.wordpress.com
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!