Happy World Poetry Day!

World Poetry Day

The School Magazine celebrating 100 Years.

Some of you more savvy readers will already know that this year The School Magazine is celebrating 100 years in print. To add to the excitement, today is World Poetry Day, and Jackie Hosking has talked a bunch(?)* of poets who’ve been published in The School Magazine into a poetry blog tour to mark the day. (Yay!)

My very first poem in The School Magazine was called ‘Odd Socks’, published in June 2014 — and that was the first time I’d been paid for a poem, too. The opening line of the poem came to me while I was at work one morning but I can’t remember if I had odd socks on that day. I do have a history of wearing non-matching socks. You would think that people wouldn’t notice socks … especially since I mostly get around in jeans. In fact, it’s surprising the number of Helpful Souls who will point out to you when your socks don’t match. Those same people are unfailingly astonished to discover it wasn’t a mistake, and that I left the house wearing clashing socks on purpose. Since June 2014, I can tell any Helpful Souls that my wearing odd socks worked out to be quite profitable, really.

The icing on the cake was that Kerry Millard illustrated my poem. As you can imagine, June 2014 was a truly wonderful month for me. (I am strongly in favour of The School Magazine continuing in print for another 100 years!)

You can read ‘Odd Socks’ on the POEMS tab of my website.

So — Happy World Poetry Day to you!

* Internet wisdom suggests ‘an iamb of poets’ but that doesn’t really trip off the tongue, does it? Oh, the irony. In my online wanderings I stumbled across someone’s vote for  ‘a jubilee of poets’ and maybe I should go with that …

Autumn and baking and more poems

Since we returned from the summer holidays, I have taught myself how to make fromage blanc (with the help of the internet, and a kit), and one of my lovely sisters-in-law taught me how to make sourdough bread.

Here’s my first attempt at fromage blanc:

Fromage blanc, made by me. Weird, huh?

Fromage blanc. Weird, huh?

And here’s my latest batch of sourdough:

Sourdough bread, made by me.

As you can see, my sister-in-law is a very good teacher.

I’ve also been busy poem-making, and you can see two of my recent poems over at Poetry Tag:

  1. Beneath the Backyard Lemon Tree and
  2. Cottesloe Beach Skipping Rhyme (with bonus instructions for skipping in a group). BYO skipping rope. And a large bottle of water if you’re in Perth and suffering through this heatwave.

Speaking of heatwaves, looking out of my window I can see my sad garden. Other than my brave rosebushes, there’s not much in it because we were away over the summer break. So, here’s a photo of some of my roses because I didn’t get around taking a shot of the cos lettuces … or the weeds.

Roses from my garden.

Roses from my garden. They smell like turkish delight.

~ Rebecca

A monkey skipping rhyme

Over the school holidays we visited friends in Europe. The landscape was so different, and I took lots and lots of photos (it turns out I have a thing for bare tree branches arching over streetlights in the gloom. Especially if it also involves water nearby and/or cobblestones).

More on that later.

Today I have a skipping rhyme for you in celebration of Year of the Monkey. (Happy Chinese New Year!)

You can share it with anyone and print it off — as long as you leave my name attached to it … and do find a rope and skip to it. Well, OK — maybe not today because it’s eleventy-hundred degrees in Perth and we are all wilting. (If you are in another Australian state, feel free to skip to it.)

I really loved skipping rhymes as a child, and I loved the skipping part too, especially in a big crowd with two people turning the rope.


Over in the jungle
it’s the monkeys’ time for lunch.
They like to eat bananas,
they eat them by the bunch.

Father likes the yellow ones,
Mother likes the brown,
and Baby likes the green ones
munching upside down!

Stay cool. Skip on!

~ Rebecca

Spring fever

Happy spring! You can tell it’s spring because this is flowering in my garden.

Hardenbergia flowering.

Term 3 is always the busiest term of the year at our house. The calendar pages stuck to our fridge (actually just A4 sheets I’ve printed out) get so full of writing that they can’t take the weight of all that activity and they drop onto the floor … and slide underneath the fridge. Calendar pages that hide underneath the fridge really don’t help much with the Term 3 Busy-ness.

(Also, on a side note: our fridge door is silver-coloured but is not magnetic. Who makes non-magnetic fridge doors, I ask you? Where am I supposed to stick up my magnetic words for fridge-door poetry-writing? And artwork by our artists-in-residence? What am I supposed to do with all the fridge magnets that inevitably accumulate in a house?!)

In poem-y news, I have new poems up at Poetry Tag: the first one is called ‘The Birth of an Idea’ (Sally gave me the words birth, and together) and the most recent poem is ‘For Sally (on her birthday)’ (my words were take, feline, and cloud). Now I’ve tagged Sally, and it’s her turn to write …

As Term 3 draws to a close  (we still have a week to go here in WA) I am back to writing as much as I can. This week I’ve been writing first drafts of poems, and working on the final drafts of my folktale-style picture book.

Garden update: No carrots, and the green stuff wasn’t a success. There are nasturtiums flowering though, as well as ranunculi, and one poppy plant. You might find that single poppy plant amusing if you follow me on Twitter:

Tweet about sowing lots and lots of poppy seeds

Oh, April Rebecca. So optimistic.

Wait! I did get some passionfruit off the vine. Three in fact. Proof:

Passionfruit photo.

8 sleeps till the school holidays. I’ve got some more writing to do.

Poems in Print

The year is skipping along nicely. Here it is April and I still haven’t posted up a photo of my poem from the March issue of The School Magazine (specifically ‘Countdown’). You can see me, very excited, on the day my copy arrived in the mail:

Biscuit bother (poem by me, illustrations by Kimberly Andrews)

The illustrations are by the wonderful Kimberly Andrews.

What else has been happening?

  • Over at the Poetry Tag site I’ve posted a new poem called ‘Waiting’. (Sally gave me the word prompts GO, FREAKY and TREE.) The resulting poem is inspired by a childhood memory.
  • I’ve been interviewed! At the Australian Children’s Poetry site, Teena Raffa-Mulligan and I talked about What Makes a Good Poem, and some other poem-y stuff.
  • I’ll have three poems published in a forthcoming anthology edited by Sally Odgers. (The anthology is called Prints Rhyming: Singing the Year.) More on that soon …

As well as cheering about exciting poetry-in-print news, I’ve been out in my little garden planting seeds for spring flowers, lettuce, carrots and rainbow chard. (No-one in the house likes rainbow chard much but I say IT’S GOOD FOR YOU so if it grows it will be going into our winter cooking.) I’ve never been able to grow carrots successfully but I’m giving it another go because I had a packet of seeds and they were about to expire. What I’m extra clever at is growing Spooky Carrots — wonky carrots with legs and arms and strange twisty shapes. Spooky Carrots still taste like the everyday sort but they are much harder to peel and to wash all the dirt off.

Spooky Carrot photo

Here’s a spooky carrot I prepared earlier …


Research for poetry writers

Lorraine reading from one of her poetry collections, Guinea Pig Town

Lorraine reading from one of her poetry collections, Guinea Pig Town.

Today I welcome Lorraine Marwood as a guest-poster. Lorraine is the author of novels, verse novels and poetry collections. She’s here today as part of a blog tour to celebrate the launch of the latest poetry collection — Celebrating Australia: A year in poetry, and while she’s here she agreed to share some wisdom about research and poetry writers. Over to you, Lorraine!

Celebrating Australia -- the cover (front and back!)

Research for poetry writers

I’m wondering if it is universally known that poets research to gather words, concepts, ideas, and information all for the reader’s gratification? (As well as the researcher gaining much knowledge!)

I believe that a poem is as vital a form of communication as non-fiction or fiction, and dives beneath the layers of fact to provide the emotional element that in history or recounting is often lost.

In this collection, even poems with subject matter I knew a lot about had a research component. For example the Christmas poem — ‘Christmas Competition,’ was based on the house and street decorations we have in my hometown, but I’d also collected newspaper cuttings about it. This made it convenient to write a Christmas poem ‘out of season’ and visually remember the amount of time and amount of manufactured ‘festive spirit’ that went into house owner’s decorations. Often one component of my research is newspaper clippings, unusual and also topical.

Research in this instance meant that I was looking for a different angle to present a poem on a tried and true subject.

Books and internet became the basis of research for such celebrations as Chinese New Year, Ramadan, World Oceans day, Walk safely to school day, Bastille day — to name a few. Facts, colours, customs became the entry point for the poem. I had to immerse myself in the celebration across many web pages before I had a strong enough hold upon the facts to go off on my own tangent. After all, I am trying to write in a new way about established yearly events.

My editors made suggestions of what to include if it seemed that the poem still didn’t have enough depth and I re-worked or incorporated these suggestions.

For me getting facts right was very important in these poems.  After all, many readers and hopefully many school classes will use these as springboards for exploration of their own celebration.

The vernacular of spoken words was researched for such iconic poems as ‘Talk like a pirate day’ and the Aussie slang poem for Australia Day. Again I used many sources to make a word bank of sayings and then for me finding the all important entry point. Then the poem would form its own structure and poetic devices.

Even subjects that I thought I knew a bit about like ‘St. Patrick’s Day’ were easier to write after research and pinpointing a common theme. Images and photos of celebration all added to the depth of research and equipped me with enough ideas to write.

Here are the opening lines of the St. Patrick’s Day poem

St. Patrick’s Day
By all things green
and shamrock-shaped
by all things leprechaun
and pot-of-gold-shaped

© Lorraine Marwood

Of course research was even more important when topics like birthdays, grief and Christmas had more than one poem to represent them.

I really enjoy this aspect of my writing time, it’s like poetic map-making or planning and kick-starts my poems in unusual and exciting ways.

And now that you’ve learned something about the research that goes into Lorraine’s poetry, I have a poem of my own to share. Lorraine has challenged the host at each of the blog tour stops to write their own poem based on the patterning of her season-themed poems in Celebrating Australia. (At the first stop of this blog tour, Jackie shares instructions for using Lorraine’s autumn poem as a template for your own poem.)

Here’s my poem!


Winter is a constant rhythm
a plink-tink thrum-drum patterning.
One day a pianissimo tinkling
of rain on roof top,
by week’s end a crescendo
of drubbing, clattering, hammering, battering.

Winter is stained glass, blurred,
a forgotten paintbrush in a waterglass.
One day the muted yellow glow
of street light halos,
by week’s end a bright fireside gleam
of lighted windows along our road.

© Rebecca Newman

For more poem-y goodness, be sure to check out the other stops on Lorraine’s blog tour.

Blog tour dates and links:

2 March Jackie Hosking:  Topic: What makes a good poem ( according to LM) + giveaway.

3 March Kathryn Apel:  Topic: Bringing a poetry collection together.

4 March Rebecca Newman: Topic: Research for poetry writers. [You’re here!]

5 March Claire Saxby:  Topic: Inside this collection.

6 March Janeen Brian:  Topic: How you create for the creators: how you create ideas to excite children and adults to write poems of their own.

9 March Alphabet Soup:  Topic: Writing a class poem — the results! + giveaway.

More writing, more drawing, and a lullaby for a rat

The Juniper Tree by rebeccanewman.net.au

A scene from The Juniper Tree. Collage. By me!

It’s hot, hot, hot in Perth this week. That means more tomatoes picked from my garden (yay!) and more washing flapping on the line (also yay! because it dries super fast in this hot weather, and if there’s no washing flapping on the line then that means it’s still in the laundry and that can’t be good).

Other than picking tomatoes and pegging out washing, I’ve also been writing heaps of new poems (here’s one of them — a Rat Lullaby), and creating artwork. I’m taking part in the 52-week illustration challenge — that illustration at the top of this post is my collage for the first week’s theme, fairy tale. I used magazine pages torn into tiny pieces. So it also counts as spring-cleaning, sort of …

And now it’s time for a photo of a lemon cucumber and some little tomatoes from my garden. Lemon cucumbers taste like regular cucumbers, but they are shaped like a lemon with a yellowish blush to the skin. And the skin is edible! So we eat them like apples. (You have to brush off the tiny prickles first though, so you don’t get prickles on your tongue.)

lemon cucumber and cherry tomatoes