Archive of ‘Poetry’ category

Would I have kept writing poetry if…?

Would I have kept writing poetry if it hadn’t been for The School Magazine?

Yes . . .but

it’s the excitement of acceptance!

The whizz-bang in your tum that your work’s been read and appreciated and it’s going to be in print for children to read!

That’s the buzz.

It can brighten your whole day.

There’s a deep, satisfying thrill that comes with having your work both accepted and then illustrated by such wonderful creators, including Kim Gamble, Tohby Riddle, Kerry Millard, David Legge, Bronwyn Bancroft, Gaye Chapman, Stephen Axelson, Matt Ottley, Vilma Cencic, Peter Sheehan and Tom Jellet.

That’s due not only to the quality of the magazine and its remarkable endurance, but also the reputation of the team steering each issue to publication.

Today I’ve included the poem, Jigsaw Bits. It was the first poem I ever had published by the magazine in 1983. It’s illustrated by Walter Cunningham in black-and-white, as were all illustrations at the time.


And here’s the last poem: Magpie Morning, which was only accepted a week ago. (March, 2016)

On the banks of
a new day, bursts
a bubbling sound;
a gargling
gurgling, tumbling of
river song
from beaky birds
all black and white.


As in both poems, and in many others, some of which I’ve included here, there’s a longing to share the natural world, either in rhyme or free verse, lyrical or humorous.

Magpie Morning came about because of late, our suburban street has been commandeered by an army of magpies. On one particular letter-posting day, I counted twelve birds near my house.

The sight of them with their head thrown back, and the sound of their beautiful song, sent a smile to my toes. It reminded me of water cascading over river rocks, or swirling in eddies. Hence the link to river and river banks within the poem.

Here’s another watery one.

The Puddle (illustrated by Kim Gamble) was published in 1995.

A puddle
is a muddle
of droplets together.
A puddle dribbles edges
in wet, rainy weather.
A puddle can wriggle
its way to a river
to meet other puddles
with tingle and shiver.
Then, silent,
they journey
but listen to them shout,
when at the sea-mouth
the puddles rush out!


And here’s a longer, more personal poem. But it’s still connected to the natural environment.

A Dad Time,  illustrated by Matt Ottley, was published in 2009.

I remember a dad time.
It was a gentle time
with a long jetty,
a sharp knife
and slivers of squishy cockles.
His sure fingers
which I would thread on a hook
as if making a garment.
Sun crowned our heads,
I in his shadow
freckling away,
swinging legs,
aching to reel in- and in – and in.
Sure each wavelet
was a fish, Dad!
Mostly it wasn’t.

Mostly it was
just a dad time.


I often write short, quirky poems.

Jiggery Piggery

Between a curly tail
and snout,
a lot of bacon


Fishery (illustrated by Tom Jellet)

flap and flippery,
end up
fish and chippery!


Fish (illustrated by Vilma Cencic)

Down by the sea –
in the shallows,
fish, thin as silver needles,
lacy seaweed.


Spider light (illustrated by Anne Bowman)

you hang upside down in a dim corner
like a fancy chandelier.
Are you waiting, spider,
for someone to switch on
the light?


In 2015, Ride the Rhythm was published and illustrated by Matt Ottley. I think it says a lot about what I love about poetry. Although I enjoy rhyme, what is even more compelling for me, is the actual look and sound of words. And the rhythm.

It’s how I view the world.

Thank you, School Magazine, for helping me share it.




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!

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