I’m told, I knew all my nursery rhymes by heart before I went to Kindergarten. So someone, possibly my mother or maternal grandmother, taught me. My love of verse came from listening, firstly, to my father recite comic verses by Lewis Carroll and melodramatic poetry by Mrs Felicia Hemans [Casablanca, in particular, which he recited with flair] and, secondly, to my maternal grandfather recite The Man from Snowy River, and reading The Hunting of the Snark, by Lewis Carroll.
2.When and why did you begin to write poetry for children?
I started writing poetry and illustrating my verse whilst in primary. Many of the poems were either narrative or humorous or both, which I read or wrote to my maternal grandmother, who is responsible for having encouraged this behaviour in her granddaughter..
Thanks Eumundi for your great reception to Magic Fish Dreaming.
On Saturday the 15th of April I visited Berkelouw books, the Sunshine Coast to sign copies of Magic Fish Dreaming.
It was a super busy market day, and there were so many wonderful stalls. I heard about these from my daughter and husband who went for a walk around the market after they were finally able to find a park. They saw bird whistles, art, special healing skin creams and lots of psychics. But even with so much to choose from Magic Fish Dreaming was not overlooked by wayfarers in the market.
Berkelouw books who stock the book suggested that being stationed out the front of the shop to catch the passing foot traffic would be a great idea. And it was! Thanks to staff for having me at the shop.
June said: This is a triolet using the prompt ‘Blurred.’ The first words that came into my head were, ‘outlines crash into swirls’.
The trickiest thing with this poem was picking the artist. Would they be someone I personally knew who painted, a fictional small child, or someone who everyone knows that paints? I thought of a famous artist who used swirls, Vincent Van Gough.
I added the dedication to help with understanding of the poem.
I imagine this poem is an art class for early childhood with a teacher who likes to introduce the children to great artists, and likes to encourage them to look beyond the surface of the painting, into what it means to the artist who paints it. I decided to name the teacher after my favourite art teacher at high school.
(Published March 3rd at Australian Children’s Poetry Blog)
It was a brilliant weekend reading some of the work fromMagic Fish Dreaming, at the Big Draw, at the State Library. This marked the first public appearance where Helene and I shared samples of the book. Heidi, our designer, worked on three pages especially for this event.
Perched comfortably in a super red story chair, miked up, and with a red mat for families to sit on, I read three poems, ‘Wishing For A Fish,’ ‘Beyond Caterpillar Days’ and ‘Discovering Magic.’
I asked if any of the audience had been to Far North Queensland, and one parent had grown up there. I then explained about the kickstarter and working together with Helene on the book and pointed her out in the audience. I actually picked her as my illustrator which you don’t usually do with a mainstream publisher.
I talked to everyone a little bit about fishing and the large and beautiful Ulysses butterflies from where I used to live.
I asked if any of the children knew what a Thylacine was, and told them about it being extinct, and then showed them where it was tucked in the illustration. They came closer and looking for all the animals on the dragon. Many of them they identified straight away and some were trickier like the thylacine and quoll.
At the end one young man asked, ‘Did you write all those poems?’
I then gave out an activity based on ‘Discovering Magic’ and some launch invitations and posters.
Then over at the demonstration art area Helene gave a sneak peak of the story board, and insights into her illustration process.
This included a delightful video demonstration.
It was great to catch up with Helene, as we are both busy completing a variety of projects other than Magic Fish Dreaming, which is presently with the designer. We stay in touch of course via email and phone, but it is always great to see each other in real space.
We loved having this opportunity to present on the same day and we’re thankful to all the organizers for inviting us.
One of my dear friends from Goodna, Minaira, traveled with a friend to give support on the day. She is a fabulous artist and it was lovely to see her connecting and chatting with Helene. It was special to share this first public reading with someone I consider family. I hope to see her illustrated books one day too.
Here I am with these dear young women from Goodna.
Another friend to offer her support, and one of our many kickstarter backers, was Nancy, who came along with her husband Andrew. Nancy, Helene and my friends from Goodna all took some fliers to distribute in their areas to let people know our launch is on October 30th. It’s support like this that made our book happen in the first place. So thank you all!
There were many other fabulous readers on the day and it was lovely to learn from them how they do it particularly Peter Taylor with his Puppets, Sarah Owens, with her use of kinetics and a bike horn. It was also brilliant to see Shannon Horsfall, reading ‘Was Not Me’ and sharing her art processes.
Illustrators Anil, Giuseppe, and Lachlan were just brilliant to watch in action. Anil was so relaxed working with her digital tools and looking at her work in progress on the screen.
My fellow Write Linkers produced two collaborative stories with the guidance of Charmaine Clancy. Children made their way to the art tables to illustrate these, and had some volunteers to talk to whilst they did their art, with either an art or writing background. These are some of the art works fromthe children in response to the story.
Upstairs Charmaine was conducting a Writer’s Workshop for youth. I caught up with her briefly before heading home.
A big thank you especially to Sam Sochacka for coordinating the program and volunteers, all the Write Linkers who were there in force, and a big thank you to our first audience for making it such a great experience.