Talkin’ Poetry with Lorraine Marwood

This is a poetry sort of month for me – so it gives me great (perfectly timed!!) pleasure to join the blog tour (read = party) for Lorraine Marwood’s latest collection of poetry, A Ute Picnic and Other Australian Poems. I love this line “Cat snores flip up, out onto the warm croak of day”. I love the whole book. And the front cover.

Now I know Lorraine won’t mention it but just in case you don’t know, her verse novel Starjumps was shortlisted in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for Children’s Fiction. Go poetry!

Welcome Lorraine. Tell us more…

To hunger for poetry

To celebrate the release of my latest collection of poems “A Ute picnic and other Australian poems’, I’ve been thinking about writing and about poetry.

Often when I take workshops with poetry the catch cry seems to be how do you tackle poetry teaching? Is it because we don’t consider poetry the daily necessity like prose, newspapers, non -fiction? Or is it that we have this idea that poetry exists on another level which means that our heads have to be up in the clouds or that poetry is abstract? Yet all around us little snatches of images and glimpses of poetry tremble at the edge of our vision if we would only recognise them.

To me poetry is very concrete. If it’s about an abstract topic like love then a poem should be able to conjure up love in sensory detail, so that it is tangible to the reader. It needs strong nouns and verbs and specific detail.

I have lots of ideas for ways to use poetry; incidentally amongst art work, on cards, make a daily fragment of poetry on yearly calendars, record the journey of my garden through poetry, record the telling details of life as my children grew up… these are the strengths of poetry. Sketching the minutiae of life in word pictures.

Here’s one fragment:


The air outside this room is not static
now that the wind ripples under the
earth’s carpet- ripples in long drawn out
air socks, shaking the dust of autumn out
about the lawn, above privet hedge, becoming a skipping
rope for the white cabbage moth to toss and turn
like some flimsy ship in full sail.
© Lorraine Marwood

Then there’s the idea that poetry needs to have an accountability ticket, a meal ticket…
And to this end I wrote strategies for encouraging children to write in the magazine ‘Literature Base’- I combined my love of literacy with my love of the writing process -trying to make that writing process a bit more transparent for both teacher and student. I wrote techniques for mask poetry, conversation poetry,show -off poetry, Images poetry to name a few. Techniques that I would use as a way into a written piece. Providing scaffolding yet allowing freedom of risk taking.

And it works. The techniques I have devised- using all my literacy and teaching knowledge and experience has resulted in 50 minutes of power packed poetry encouragement- I love hearing the students read their poems. And they can write some powerful lines!

When I was co-judge of the Dorothy MacKellar poetry competition for two years with fellow poet Claire Saxby, I was struck by how much secondary students especially, needed the outlet of poetry- all that angst about who they were, who loved them, betrayal, trust… they NEED the vehicle of poetry to express these innermost feelings.

And this is the secret surprise with poetry. I never know what will flow out onto the paper. It’s like upending a special box where little bits of treasure have been accumulating for a long time.
Recently I went back to the writing journals I kept thirty years ago- gulp and I’m utterly amazed at how much poetry I was writing then and the lines and the topics are like early prototypes of some of the poems that are now in my latest collection. There was a huge gap during the child rearing years when I suppressed my need to write and so the journals were dormant until the sixth child was at pre school. Then the writing/poems became a torrent.

To me journalling in poetry, in snatches this way has led to published work over the years. It’s exercising the writing muscles for the real race later on.

The poignancy and timelessness of a poetic moment is best expressed in this four line poem below- written when I was 21( a long time ago) yet this same moon lights the night sky again and again.

Egg yolk moon rising
behind night silhouettes
soundless, tasteless, untouchable
yet immeasurably beautiful

© Lorraine Marwood

Thanks Sandy for your generous hosting of a taste of poetry.

And a final note from me because Lorraine would never say an awful pun like this but… tomorrow the poetry ute will be pulling in to Sheryl Gwyther’s blog.

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2 responses to “Talkin’ Poetry with Lorraine Marwood”

  1. Thanks for a great post, Sandy and Lorraine,

    I LOVE the concept of a poetry ute:-)

    Good luck with the PM’s awards, Lorraine.


  2. Sandy, loved your ute puns! Thanks for the hosting- poetry feels very special this week!

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