Friday, March 27, 2009

Week 4, 2009

POSSUM
by Jenni Overend

I see you through the skylight
in the black wattle
silhouetted against early blue.
We are exchanging our waking and sleeping, you and I.
You stretch and scratch
and ready yourself for sleep,
I stretch and yawn and watch the sky lighten.

Sleep well
small mammal
'til the stars burn through again tonight.

Jenni says: Our home is in the mountains above the Yarra Valley in Victoria. We live in an old country house of many rooms and levels. When I wrote this poem, my bedroom was in an attic with a skylight so I could see the stars at night. Our roof is overhung by trees, which are visible through my ceiling window. One morning I woke early, just as the stars were fading, to hear the sound of a possum on the roof. I watched it as it clambered onto a branch visible from my bed and settled itself ready for sleep…just as I was getting ready for my daytime.

Jenni Overend’s most well known book is Hello Baby illustrated by Julie Vivas and shortlisted by the CBC in 2000. Her most recent book, Stride’s Summer, her first novel for young adults, was published in 2007. She also teaches adults and children the joys of writing stories and poems. She loves writing poetry most of all, and this is the first of her poems to be published.

Write your own poem: It's fun to observe animals, how they behave, how they move, how different they are from humans. Write a poem about an animal where you include some of these observations, and also include yourself in the poem! How are you different? The same?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Week Three

THE DREAMS OF DOGS
by Michelle Taylor

Have you watched a dog at night
dreaming at your feet?
No, it isn't just asleep!
When its eyelids grow heavy
and its breathing too,
then your dog is running
away from you
to the world of its wildest dreams.

You may try to guess
where it goes, but remember -
it's only the dog
that truly knows
when it twitches its whiskers
or flashes a fang,
when it growls
or whimpers
or its paws hit the floor
with a BANG!

Is it living a nightmare
or fulfilling a fantasy?
Have you wondered
where doggy heaven might be?
Maybe your dog's escaped
to a yard that's full of bones
or perhaps your pet's a person
and you've been locked out
of your home!
What if your dog's
become a pure bred hound
that fusses over food
and sleeps on the lounge,
or perhaps a sheep-dog
working for its keep.

I wonder though
if the greatest dog dream
is drifting back in time:
reunited with wild ancestors -
dingo, wolf, coyote.
Hunting its prey
sleeping on dirt or snow,
howling beneath a full moon,
knowing what only dogs know...

This poem is from If Bees Rode Shiny Bicycles (UQP, 2003).

Michelle says: The idea for The Dreams of Dogs came from growing up with a bevy of dogs. We always owned at least one, but neighbours' dogs were welcome at our place too, as my Mum was a great dog-lover. I loved watching our dogs asleep at my feet at night. They could be so restless - twitching their noses, revealing their fangs, whimpering or muffled woofing, paws going and clawing away at the carpet, even their tails wagging. It occurred to my for the first time back then as a child, that dogs must dream, just like humans. I let my imagination go when it came to writing this poem, and had a lot of fun wondering just what kinds of things dogs might dream about...

About Michelle Taylor: "I'm passionate about poetry and its potential to bring some magic into our lives. I believe that poetry can allow both young and old to express themselves more fully, and to appreciate themselves and the world around them with new wonder. I want those I work with to go away feeling two things – firstly energised, and secondly, empowered by words and their endless possibilities in our lives."
Michelle's books include If Bees Rode Shiny Bicycles and If the World Belonged to Dogs.

Writing Exercise: What do you think your pet dreams about when it's asleep? Or an animal in the bush, like a kangaroo? Write a poem that answers this question!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Week Two

EQUALITY
by Edel Wignell

Life is a game of chess
with kings, queens and knights,
Bishops, rooks and pawns
standing in their places.

It's a play for ultimate power
with tactics, manoeuvres and schemes.
There's winning and losing, rules
observed, removal, completion.

At the end of the game, however,
the players - from king to pawns -
Are tossed, powerless at last,
into a box - equal.

Edel says: I have a large, heavy chess board made of wood inlay. One day, when I was struggling to move it, the idea of the chess game as a metaphor for equality zipped into my brain. I wrote and re-wrote until I was satisfied.
Edel Wignell likes playing with words and ideas. You can read some of her poetry and verse, both serious and humorous, on her website: http://www.edelwignell.com.au/ Her latest books are a picture-story, Big Eyes, Scary Voice, illustrated by Carl Pearce (Tamarind Books, UK, available fromRandom House Australia) - for ages 3- 5 years, and The White Elephant: Drama based on Asian Folk Tales (Teaching Solutions), for Years 3 to 6.

Try one of these yourself: An 'idea' poem often starts with something concrete. Think of an item: e.g. a piece of furniture (in the house), a fence (in the country), a lighthouse (by the sea). How would you describe it? What does it mean to you - or to others? Put your descriptions and meanings into a poem - blend the two together.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

2009: Week One

It's one of those days
by Vicki Thornton

when you sleep through the alarm
wake up to find that someone has hidden your shoes
your face has been tumble dried warm
your hair has a mind of its own
and decided that beehives are back in a big way.

when the bus is late
the train early
you're all fingers and two left feet
words are swallowed whole
your tongue lies in a knot at the back of your throat
and even just smiling hurts.

when you did your Math homework
forgot your English
remembered to bring the egg sandwich
your mum made for lunch
your music lesson goes on forever
and you know tomorrow has to be better
has to be better
has to be.

Vicki says: I think everyone has one of THOSE days- when nothing goes rightand the day seems to drag on and on forever. I wanted to contrast withhow we feel on one of those days with the belief that tomorrow has toget better. Doesn't it?

Vicki Thornton writes poetry, plays, novels and short stories for children. Her books: Whistler's Mine was published by Thomson Nelson and Cinnamon and Spot, Who is Cinnamon Smith? and Cinnamon Finds a Sport were published by Oxford University Press. She works in a library where she runs a Storytime session; being surrounded by children and books is a great way to stir up ideas.

Writing Exercise: Write a poem about the worst day of your life. Pretend you are telling a very small story -show us what happened through word pictures. Or if all of your days are good ones (lucky you!), write a poem about an imaginary disastrous day. If you have several disasters in a row, put each one in a separate verse or stanza. How will you finish the poem? Looking forward to tomorrow? Think about how to create a satisfying ending.