Earlier in the week I visited Mount Eliza North Primary School and had the great pleasure of working with groups of young, enthusiastic poets and their teachers.
When I arrived these young poets were loaded with lots of questions for me to answer. I tried to answer as many as I could, but we ran out of time, so I agreed to answer more questions right here!
So here goes:
When you were little did you love writing?
The short answer is yes. I have always enjoyed words and language. I can't recall a time when I wasn't doing some kind of writing.
When did you write your first poetry book?
I have had poems published, but it wasn't until 2014 that I had an entire book of poems (an anthology) published. When I looked back through all my notebooks I realized I had hundreds of poems from which to choose. So, 'Searching For Hen's Teeth-Poetry From The Search Zone' became my first collection of poems to go public.
How many poetry books do you own?
I am not really sure of the exact number, but I would estimate, close to two hundred. I am a collector and the words of my fellow poets inspire me. That's why I started my very own poet's suitcase to house my very special book collection.
When did you write your first poem?
I wrote my first poem in Grade 2. It was a poem about springtime. I can't remember the words, but I can remember how good it felt to write a poem that my teacher and my classmates liked. It gave me the encouragement to keep writing.
What Inspired you to write poetry?
My Dad always played with words and encouraged me to think about the way language works. Riddles and puzzles and word games were a part of my childhood. In Grade 6, my teacher, John Harris loved reading poetry to his students, particularly Australian poetry. He ignited the spark that grew into my life long love of poetry.
What is your favourite poetry book?
I would have to say, 'Quick,Let's Get Out of Here by Michael Rosen. A wonderful book of narrative poems that continue to make me smile and inspire me as a poet.The poems have a strong thread of humour running through them and remind me of my own adventures as a kid. My all time favourite poem, Chocolate Cake is in this book. I have shared it more than any other poem, including any of my own.
Have you written any new poems lately?
Well, yes I have. I am regularly writing poems. In fact some of my more recent poems have been included in my next book, 'I Bet There's No Broccoli On The Moon' which will be released soon.
Of the poems you have written, which one is your favourite?
That's a hard question to answer. It's like saying you have a favourite child. I still get a laugh from reading 'The Puny Knight and The Miffed Maiden.' It's a poem I enjoyed writing very much. Lots of kids like the 'Dead Rat' poem, so that pleases me too.
Where do you get your ideas?
Ah ideas! They're everywhere. They float in the air. I hear ideas. I see ideas. I feel ideas. I even smell ideas.
A writer must use their senses. Ideas present themselves in the books I read, the conversations I have and the places I go. I get ideas from other writers. They exist in my memories. They exist in 'things.' Just sit and look around you. There are ideas everywhere, just waiting to be discovered. Ideas exist in the playground, the park, your house; just about anywhere. As writers we must become collectors and observers.
What was your favourite book as a child?
My favourite book as a child was 'The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill by Dorothy Wall. I still have it. It sits proudly on my book shelves to this day. Every kid wanted a copy, a bit like the Treehouse books today.
What do you like about poetry?
Poetry gives me the chance to play with words. It challenges me to use my best words because we write poetry in tight spaces. I love poetry's rhyme and rhythms. I love its close relationship to music. I love poetry's many moods. I love how words dance off my tongue when I say them. I love the feeling I get when I create poetry. I especially love how poetry can be created in many different ways. Poetry makes my heart sing! I hear it. I see it. I feel it in my heart. Poetry is my oxygen.