Category Archives: Poetry

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

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


A poem about a bullock

You can read my newest poem at the Poetry Tag site — the poem is called ‘Bullock’.

Sally gave me the following words:





What a combo!

My latest poem

I’m just stopping in quickly to say you can now read my latest poem on the Poetry Tag site. Sally Murphy’s words for me this time were:





At a first glance they feel like they belong in a loud-ish sort of poem, don’t you think?

Oh, and Happy Start of Winter, too!

~ Rebecca

Odd Socks

On Friday I found a yellow envelope in my post office box with two copies of The School Magazine. This was because I have a poem published in the June issue of their ‘Blast Off’ magazine. (If you get it at your school, my poem is on page 7, it’s called ‘Odd Socks’.). I was especially thrilled to see Kerry Millard‘s gorgeous illustrations to go with it. Lucky me!

Then on Saturday my Poetry Tag pal Sally Murphy (who was in Sydney for the CBCA conference over the weekend) sent me this exciting tweet:

Sally Murphy tweet

I like to think that someone in the audience might have been wearing odd socks. I was actually wearing odd socks at the time but I was also on the other side of the country so I couldn’t prove it.

You never know what might happen when you wear odd socks …

Playing tag … with poetry

I love reading poetry (especially out loud) and I’ve been scribbling poems in a notebook for quite a few years now.

2013 was a big year for me poetry-wise. Around the middle of the year The School Magazine sent me an email to say they wanted to publish two of my poems. If you’re in NSW and/or you are a regular reader of The School Magazine, you can read the first of those poems in an issue coming out very, very soon. (It’s a poem about … something quite odd.)

1st Tag

The first words on the poetry tag blog. For Sally!

Then in October 2013 I  started playing Poetry Tag with Sally Murphy. We take it in turns to throw a bunch of words on to the Poetry Tag website, yell ‘Tag! You’re It!’ and then the one on the receiving end has to weave those words into a poem. When they’ve posted a poem, they get a turn at throwing a bunch of words on to the site. It’s just for fun and there aren’t many rules. Other than the rule that the challenge words must be included in the poem, the poem-writer can come up with any sort of poem they like. Sometimes it’s tricky and the challenge words won’t behave and I desperately want them to go into places they won’t. And other times the poems almost write themselves. (Want to read my latest poem? Sally gave me the words ferocious, two, hole and brilliant and I came up with a ferocious poem. )

If you’re stuck in a rut it’s a fun way to get unstuck. You could use our words when they go up on the Poetry Tag website if you like. We’re generous like that. Or you could ask someone sitting nearby to give you some words to play with.