Archive of ‘News’ category

Celebrating Children’s Book Day

Let’s celebrate Children’s Book Day by finding out which books you read as a child. I was asked to name mine and here they are. What were yours?

I know I loved curling up with any Enid Blyton stories and there was a girl nurse series called Cherry Ames.  I also loved reading about brave people like The Small Woman by Pearl Buck (a true life David and Goliath story set in China) and daring people like Houdini. I know too I was given a copy of Little Women for one birthday which I read but not sure I really liked it at the time.

Because we had so few books in the home and I never went to a library, or had library books at school, the book choice was very limited, and a book for Christmas or birthday was very  much looked forward to. I would read dad’s adult Reader’s Digest books and at the age of 7 tried to read Charles Dickens’ Ye Old Curiosity Shop, which shows how much I wanted to read!

readers digestBecause I topped the class in year 7, my parents bought me a large Junior Reader’s Digest Omnibus which contained stories, articles, and poems and I devoured and treasured that book. Unfortunately in one of my many moves later in life, it was lost and it broke my heart. Luckily, some years later I came across another copy in an op-shop. I was thrilled and now have it back to look over the stories I read and re-read.

Lorraine’s Blog Tour

Celebrating_Australia_CVR-HRWant to know how award-winning poet, Lorraine Marwood, creates for the creators? How she creates ideas to excite kids and adults to write poems of their own? Join Lorraine on her blog tour, celebrating her new book of poems, Celebrating Australia, and discover lots about this talented lady and her poetry.

Today, I’d like to welcome my dear friend and writing colleague, Lorraine Marwood. I asked her a question about how she creates for creators. Here’s her great response.

How you create for the creators: How you create ideas to excite children and adults to write poems of their own!

Janeen, what a tricky, but exciting subject, maybe I need to go back a few years to explain.

I have always been passionate about literacy and how children and indeed adults acquire literacy- that is reading and writing strategies.

So when I ‘d completed my teacher training and began to have a family, I realized that I had an empathy with those struggling to gain a workable literacy. So I took on a Graduate Diploma in literacy and really explored the strategies that made up the reading process and ways to encourage risk taking. It empowered me to know how to help my own children and those in the community that came to me after school for literacy boosts.

So my strategies are based on some fundamentals I believe as a teacher and through many years of experience with teaching adult literacy and ESL and work shopping with schools.

  • make it achievable and in this case within the time frame of usually an hour
  • use what the children or adults bring to the writing situation, that is their own experiences
  • scaffold the technique all the way, but first share my own poem written using that technique or subject matter
  • provide something physical such as a picture prompt, artifact or word bank.
  • encourage risk taking by saying there is no right or wrong answer here, or right or wrong poem
  • encourage them to tap into their own innate way of looking at the world and that will encourage individuality rather than cliché
  • excite them by the end goal- poetry writing is achievable, is fun, is enjoyable. they will complete a finished piece of writing within the time frame
  • do ask for children or adults to share a particular line ( as the writing is taking place)so that others can hear what is written and so have a go for themselves
  • do show the strengths of poetry as the children or adults write- I have a particular technique called ‘Images’ which is written to show what the strengths of poetry are and what I believe are the important points.
  • allow time for the new poets to share their work with the class and even better if there is a writing classroom teacher to share their version.

Often in a residency situation I have been asked to write strategies to the curriculum- last year I was challenged to write two different techniques for ‘developing democracy’- oh what that a challenge, but with enough information about the challenges leading up to federation and looking at the people involved I created a propaganda poem and the boys- yes all boys were invited to stand on a soapbox to deliver their short propaganda poem with passion and persuasion to their cause.

And lastly my own passion for encouraging writers and poetry is a must in any teaching situation.

Thanks Janeen for hosting today’s blog post and for writing a poem of your own based on ‘Autumn’. It’s much appreciated! I value your support as a colleague and friend.

I used one of Lorraine’s poetry-writing strategies to write an Autumn poem of my own. Here it is.


Autumn is whispered, rustling sounds
a scritch-scratch, wind-swishing dance.
One day a soft-blowing greenery
massaging branches
by week’s end a starchy rasping rattle
of shiver, scrape, crackle, snap.

Autumn is a secret hush of colours
a creeping sunset to molten red.
One day a swaying cloth of emerald
on twiggy stems
by week’s end a firecracker of flames
flicker, spark, shimmer, stun.

© Janeen Brian


Now you can follow or review the whole blog tour!

2nd March:
Jackie Hosking:  Topic:  What makes a good poem

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

4th March
Rebecca Newman:   Topic: Researching  for poetry writing

5th March
Claire Saxby: Topic: Inside this collection

6th 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.

7th March
Alphabet Soup ;  Topic:  Writing a class poem- the results!

Walking for Gold – Serendipity

Do you enjoy the concept of serendipity? – ‘the discovery of desirable but unsought for discoveries’.

Often the discoveries come as welcome and remarkable surprises.

Sometimes they are even connected to your current life situation, family history or your work.

Recently, within 24 hours, I came across two people whose families had a direct connection to the children’s historical novel I’m working on with Walker Books.

The story, Walking for gold, is set in the mid-eighteen hundreds when more than 16,000 Chinese braved the voyage to South Australia. They then walked approximately 500 kms from the South Australian port of Robe to the Victorian goldfields, carrying all their belongings in baskets hung from poles across their shoulders, or pushing them in wooden barrows.

Chinese-walking-to-goldfields well

One night, I sat next to a Iady whose Chinese ancestors had made the trek from Robe to Ballarat, as do the characters in my manuscript. At one point, she said that her ancestors had ‘Anglicised their Chinese name,’ probably hoping it would aid assimilation.

Then the following morning, my chiropractor mentioned that her family owned a property in the south-east of South Australia. ‘My father told me the Chinese must’ve walked through our property in the early days,’ she said. ‘And I remember there was an old well it and lots of broken Chinese artifacts and coins about.’


I wrote the fictionalised story of Yong, a twelve-year-old Chinese character and his father from the comfort of my own home.

Those like Yong, his father and thousands of others were the ones who made the history, enduring great hardships in their struggle to find gold.

It was great to hear the two serendipitous snippets. Somehow it helped to humanize the thousands of nameless faces and made connections over time.


Have you experienced any serendipitous situations? Were any connected to a particular situation or project?

1 2 3