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.
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.
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).
Today we welcome Jackie Hosking, here to tell us about her experiences of reading undercover. She loves to write rhyming poetry. We’ve published several of her poems in Alphabet Soup magazine, and she’s had poems published elsewhere, including The School Magazine, and in an anthology, Short and Scary.
As a child I loved to read. I read all of Enid Blyton’s The Secret Seven books ( http://www.enidblyton.net/secret-seven/ ), I loved their meetings in the clubhouse where their mother brought them homemade biscuits and lemonade. Later I enjoyed The Nancy Drew Mysteries and always looked forward to receiving a new copy at the end of the Sunday School Year.
At the time I was reading these books I lived in Cornwall, which is in the United Kingdom. I was about ten years old. Just after my tenth birthday my family and I came to live in Australia where I discovered the amazing stories of Roald Dahl. I particularly remember Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator and James and the Giant Peach. At primary school I was a frequent visitor to the school library where I borrowed and read the Pippi Longstocking books by Astrid Lindgren and it was at about this time I discovered that I really enjoyed reading science fiction books.
I was encouraged to read at home and had always been read to as a child. I read in bed, on the couch, in my tent, on the grass, in the car, on the bus … but never, never, never at the dinner table. This was a time to chat and catch up with the goings on in the family. And we certainly weren’t allowed to watch television at meal times. In fact television was a bit of a luxury in our house as was being allowed to stay up late. Most nights I was in bed by 8pm and so had plenty of time to curl up with my favourite book. I don’t ever remember being told to stop reading or to turn my lights out but after reading for a couple of hours I can imagine that my eyelids would have made that decision for me. I was what you might call a pretty sensible child, boring others might say. I did as I was told, most of the time, including brushing my teeth, saying please and thank you and eating my vegetables, even the brussels sprouts!
Books were my escape where I could be brave, daring and brilliant. Where there were no bedtimes or manners, just adventure and excitement (without of course, any real danger). Nothing thrilled me more than to open the pages of a new book, eager to discover where I might end up and who I might meet. Books allow you to reinvent yourself; they give you permission to shine.
As an adult I still love to read. And you’ll find me in bed on a Sunday morning with my latest book texting my husband for a nice cup of tea!
Alphabet Soup magazine is celebrating the launch of Undercover Readers (our new reviewers club for kids)! If you’d like to join the Undercover Readers Club, you’ll find an information pack you can download from the Alphabet Soup website. As part of the celebrations, we have a different children’s author or illustrator visiting Soup Blog each day until 29 June 2010 to talk about what they used to read after ‘lights out’ when they were growing up. So be sure to check back tomorrow!
Today is ‘Poem in Your Pocket Day’! And we’re thrilled to have a wonderful poet visiting the blog today: Jackie Hosking. You can find one of her poems in the current issue of Alphabet Soup magazine (issue 6).
Welcome, Jackie! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a Nigerian born, Cornish, Australian. How can that be? Well, my parents are Cornish, they were living in Nigeria when I was born, they moved to Victoria, Australia when I was ten where I became an Australian Citizen. I left my parents’ home with my kitten, Gizzy when I was 18 years old. Gizzy lived to be 21 years old and I wrote a poem, ‘My Cat,’ in her memory. Now I live in a beautiful seaside town with my puppy Rex. Rex is a Blue Staffy and he wrecks (Rex) everything. I love walking by the sea and in the bush and discover many of my poems this way. I also love to read.
How long have you been writing poetry?
I have been writing poetry for about 25 years. I wrote my very first poem when I was 17. I have been writing for children for about 5 years.
You seem to love rhyming poetry in particular. Can you tell us why?
I grew up reading poems by A.A. Milne. He wrote the ‘Winnie The Pooh’ books, and I always enjoyed discovering when a poem rhymed. I thought it was really clever and so doubly satisfying. Even though I love rhyme, I like the rhyme to be incidental, a bonus, not the whole focus but the icing on the cake.
Do you prefer writing poems to writing stories?
I much prefer to write a poem. I think it might be because I have a short attention span. I love how a poem can condense thoughts, feelings and descriptions into a powerful piece of writing. Poems are bite sized stories to be consumed greedily.
Why do you like writing poems for children?
I think because I never really grew up. Also I think when I write a poem, I try to write with a fresh eye, a child’s eye. Instead of having a bird’s eye view, I write with a child’s eye view. I have also written poems for adults, a few serious ones but mostly funny ones for parents with small children.
Did you like poetry as a child?
I didn’t really enjoy reading adult poetry as a child but I always enjoyed the children’s poets. I’ve mentioned A.A. Milne and there’s also C.J. Dennis, Dr. Seuss, C.S. Lewis and Roald Dahl.
Who are some children’s poets you admire today?
Of course, all of those mentioned above, as well as – Lorraine Marwood, Meredith Costain, Claire Saxby, Sally Murphy, Janeen Brian, Stephen Whiteside, Sherryl Clark and Edel Wignell, just to name a few.
Do you have a favourite style of poem when you are writing?
I like to think about my poetry as an artist might think of a painting. Poetry, to me, is painting with words. I’ve written all types of poetry, funny, sad, pretty, long, short, limericks but what is most important, for me, is the rhythm or the meter. It has to be perfect and I enjoy the challenge of getting it that way.
Have you ever done anything unusual with one of your poems? (e.g. purposely left one on a train … )
Funny that you should mention a train. Two of my poems are travelling around Melbourne on the trains as part of the ‘Moving Galleries’ project. It’s such fun when someone contacts me to let me know that they’ve seen one. I also entered a very personal (and a little bit rude!) valentine’s poem into a competition where it ended up being included in the anthology.
Do you have any advice for kids who want to write poetry?
Think of poetry like making gravy – it needs to be reduced. It needs to be the essence of what you want to say. Less is always more where poetry is concerned. Use strong, sparkly words, become friends with metaphor and simile and don’t be afraid to be unique. Never use clichés – never say that something was ‘as cold as ice’. Find a new way like … the water was as cold as money.
Ideas can come from anywhere. Walking stirs up lots of ideas, as do my pets. Nature is a favourite, the flowers, the birds, the beach. I love to capture all of these things and display them on the page.
Today is ‘Poem in Your Pocket Day’. Would you share one of your poems with us today?
Here’s one I prepared earlier …
‘I had a little poem’
I had a little poem
I held it in my hand
It whispered muffled secrets
Only I could understand
I had a little poem
I kept it in a locket
And every time I went outside
I popped it in my pocket