Saturday, October 25, 2008

Week 12

This week we are looking at haiku. While many students are taught the traditional 5-7-5 syllables, modern haiku has a lot more flexibility - which makes it more fun!

Look at these from Kathryn Apel:

nocturnal predator -
nips lips

ping-pong ping-pong
even frogs
sing in the shower

Click - door opens
who's here?
the wind

snap clack
black and white bomber

Kathryn says: In January I organised a Month of Haiku with poets from across Australia and America taking part. WE all wrote one haiku every day for the month. These come from my haiku diary.
The gecko haiku is true - my son was taking a close-up look at a gecko and it nipped him on the lip!

Kathryn wrote poetry during high school - but then didn't write anything until she was at home with her young children and reading rhyming picture books. She enjoys writing in rhyme and fiddling with short form poetry, stretching boundaries and playing with words. Kathryn is eagerly awaiting her first (rhyming) picture book, 'This is the Mud!' to be released by Lothian Books in 2009.

Poetry exercise: Try some haiku of your own, but don't get hung up on the 5-7-5 rule. Focus on creating a small word picture in three lines - the smaller, the better. And aim for your third line to be a small surprise of some kind.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Week 11


Sherryl Clark

A lot of the time
I feel like I must be adopted
or my brain got wired wrong
or I’m secretly an alien
(but they didn’t tell me).

I don’t fit
in my family
or at school,
I have friends
but sometimes even they
think I’m weird.

I say dumb things
I wear stupid clothes
I can’t make my hair behave
some days the whole world
looks wrong to me.

I wish the space ship
would come back
and collect me.

Sherryl says: I often felt like this when I was a kid - out of place, out of sorts. And I can't tell you how many people have told me of similar experiences. This was the poem that started Sixth Grade Style Queen (Not!) and led to a story that was all about finding out who you really are inside.

Sherryl Clark's verse novels have won both the NSW Premier's Award (Farm Kid) and an Honour Book award in the CBCA awards this year (Sixth Grade Style Queen (Not!)). She would love it if more kids read poetry and wrote it too! Her websites are about her books and writing and about poetry for kids.

Poetry exercise: Place says a lot about who you are or how you feel. Think about a place that means a lot to you - how do you feel when you are there? Can you write a poem that shows us the special place and how you feel, without using the word feel? Use descriptive mood words to help create atmosphere.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Week 10

Rodney, Who Was Mean to his Sister, and Copped It Big Time:A Cautionary Tale

Meredith Costain

If you’ve ever had a brother
I know you’ll understand
That brothers are a nightmare and
Should totally be banned!

My brother loved to call me names
Like Ferret-Face and Freak
If I complained he’d pick me up
And dunk me in the creek.

Our creek was full of leeches
That latched on to my toes
And slimy eels and tadpole tails
That ended up my nose …

He tickled me relentlessly
Put toast crumbs in my bed
Gave all my dolls bad haircuts –
Then hanged them in the shed.

We’d wrestle in the lounge room where
He’d pin me to the floor
And twist my arm behind my back
Till I’d cry out ‘No more!’

He’d cheat at every game we played
Refusing to take turns
My tiny arms were black and blue
From daily Chinese burns.

He’d pinch me and he’d punch me
Snap mousetraps on my thumb
He’d raid the cake and biscuit tins
Then dob me in to Mum.

One day I got my own back
It really wasn’t hard
I laid a trail of biscuits
That led out to our yard.

And there amongst the hay bales
He was cornered like a rat
I climbed aboard our tractor

So listen up dear brothers
Here’s my advice to you
Be gentle with your sisters or
They’ll GET YOU TOO!

Meredith has been writing doggerel – and catterel! – since she was six. Her poems have appeared in various publications but she is best known for her book of action verse for the very young, Doodledum Dancing (Penguin, 2007). This poem is from When We Were Young (Penguin). Her other books include several titles in the Aussie Nibbles series, Musical Harriet and No Noise at Our House (due in September). Visit her at

Poetry exercise: Choose someone you know who you'd like to write a poem about - sister, brother, friend, grandparent. Write down three things you know about them, and six descriptive words for them. Try to work all of these things into a poem - maybe you could write one verse about each thing, or tell a story in your poem about something that person did. Your poem doesn't need to rhyme - try writing it by focusing on story and using great descriptive words first.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Week 9

Making Wardrobe Space
Lorraine Marwood

The huntsman spider hangs
last season's body suit
on the rough hooks of
the old wooden post.

Put out to air
in the drying summer sun,

see it twirl, spin,
move mock spider legs.

Passing by, I can almost
believe that the flesh and blood
owner is a puppeteer hiding
behind ridges of wood,
pulling silk wires to make
his old self do a predatory

Lorraine says: 'Making wardrobe space' - the idea came from watching the shell of a huntsman spider swinging on the fence post at our farm. It reminded me of outgrown clothes as children grow and that prompted me to think about spiders and their outgrown suits.
Lorraine loves writing poetry. Poetry allows her freedom to gather images and to build them into a different slant on the world. Great satisfying fun. Lately her love of poetry has gown into a verse novel, out now: Ratwhiskers and me (Walker Books).

Poetry exercise: Is there something small but strange or different in your house? A secret corner? An insect's home? A tiny treasured object? Write a poem about something small that doesn't belong to you - imagine its owner, or create a small story about it and tell it through a poem.