Another day, another guest blogger. I am delighted today to welcome Janeen Brian to my blog to share what it is she likes about chidlren’s poetry. Welcome Janeen.
Congratulations, Sally! Looking forward to reading Toppling.
I never knew I’d end up as a writer. Or a poet. Lots of us didn’t. I liked spare or pared down writing. I liked reading it and I liked writing it, which wasn’t as often before I turned thirty as afterwards. Something to do with circumstances of life.
As a child, I liked poetry because of the images and the emotions that rose up from words. They seemed to nourish what was then a very safe, comfortable, but culturally bland, baby-boomer childhood. I liked the fact that rhymes could make you laugh out loud. Or you could chew on them for hours, like a piece of gum, though they always remained fresh, unlike gum. I thought some rhymes were very clever.
But it wasn’t until much, much later, that I made a huge discovery. And that discovery helped open the door as to what helps produce good poems and how to enjoy others’ poetry even more.
Come close and I’ll whisper what I discovered!
Those of you who read or write picture books, will at some stage have come to the realisation that picture books essentially are a short story written in poetic language. Yes, poetic language. Not lah-de-dah waffle as some people assume, but based on the use of strong, poetic techniques.
Much earlier in my writing apprenticeship and still very ignorant, I was consumed by a problem. That problem was this: why was it that the text in some picture books seem to bounce off the page, and I mean bounce, while other texts were fine to read, but remained flat and anchored to the page?
The secret was astonishingly simple. And I found it out all by myself.
Nouns and verbs.
Till then I had never really acknowledged the POWER of NOUNS or the VERVE of VERBS!
That’s what gave spring, colour and frisson to the text in the picture books!
That’s what gives it to poetry too.
That’s why I love them!
Here are two of my newest poems – yet to be sent out.
A wind like this
A wind like this is
a selfish brute
from grass and stems so
Hurling confetti blossom
across yards and roads.
Twisting branches that
hiss and groan in protest.
In a wind like this
only the windchime is ecstatic.
Usual cat finds a curl-up shape
in pools of sunlight
or rustled down
Our cat went adventuring
for greater heights
to a curl-up shape
of his own.
cobbled with twigs and
a hollow cup
of feathers long since flown.
Our cat sleeps
in a bird’s nest.
Janeen has had over 100 poems and verses published in children’s magazines and her work appears in 14 anthologies and three picture books. The latest book of poems, co-authored with Mark Carthew, is called Machino Supremo! – a fun, illustrated book about the life of all sorts of machines! Her latest picture book, Shirl and the Wollomby Show (Janeen is pictured above with the illustrator, Kat Chadwick) is written in rhyme.