31 December, 2008

reading and writing ambassador

As a pre-preservice teacher, and a literacy & literature loving librarian and writer, my interim fun title for 2009 will be Reading and Writing Ambassador :). I loved the description of Bibliotherapy on The School of Life site (via Kathleen Noonan): 'Whatever reading needs you have, we’ll take exceptional care and effort to create a reading prescription that’s perfect for you'. Of course, that's librarianship too where we can guide you in your literary exploration, and certainly provide several gadgets (and instruction on using same) to aid your journey (databases, review journals, websites, subject guides, etc) to information collection and production of knowledge.
Libraries and schools are vital community hubs through which I intend to continue to enhance people's literacy development, and their exploration of literature, while also supporting community engagment.
I see an interesting year ahead in the secondary school library - onward and upward. The reading and writing ambassador is ready to work!
I see primary schools and public libraries in my future.
Think about what you most want to teach others.
Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.
(two fortunes opened over Christmas lunch).

reading target bullseye and theatre

I set myself a target of 100 books to read for the year. Last year, in April I think, I set out to read a book a day for the month. I did that, but it was a challenge. I found I wasn't absorbing as much of the book as I'd like. One hundred is still a few each week, which can be achieved if you supplement novels with picture story books, and I did it. I've read two today (The Improbable Cat by Allan Ahlberg and The Collectors by Rosanne Hawke) because I just realised that today is the last day of the year and I'm only up to chapter 19 in Inkspell. It's a brilliant book and I don't want to rush it. Truthfully, I've probably exceeded 100. I think I forgot to write some titles down in October. Oops.
Early in December I descended on the bookstore and bought the Inkspell series (after reading Inkheart and LOVING it), The Wizard of Rondo (Emily Rodda), Best Australian Stories 2008 (edited by Delia Falconer), Families: Modern Australian Short Stories (edited by Barry Oakley), Best Australian Poems 2008 (edited by Peter Rose) and Eats, Shoots and Leaves (Lynne Truss). Happy Christmas to me.
I also gave book gifts to friends, including Nadia Wheatley's My Place to Helen who is leaving her home of ten years today to live in another home, another town.
I have to wait until February for the Taronga Foundation's volume of poetry.
I won't be setting any reading targets for 2009 because I have started writing my own novel. Of course I will still be reading, and hopefully with school students, but not quite so intensely.
* special mention - I attended my first play for the year on the 27th at a community theatre for an incredibly sparky production of Roald Dahl's The BFG. Young actors, beautiful puppetry, a spot-on characterisation of The BFG and very scary Giants jumping right down at my feet (of course I had a front row seat). Brilliant. Brilliant. Makes me wish I was writing plays, or could act. Wouldn't mind being a part of it. One year I saw ten plays in one day (Townsville, early 90s) and I remember some stunners from Uni students in Toowoomba. The Gut Girls, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Most inspirational - children's plays at Out of the Box ('04 and '06): Tashi, The Red Tree, The Flying Babies, Kese Solwater, Where is the Green Sheep? etc. My new year's resolution, if I must have one, is to seek out more plays in 2009.
Enjoy your reading, and any plays, in 2009. And - happy new year!

You should be able to undertake and complete anything.

06 December, 2008

i am a librarian

I'm doing the dance of happy - after six years and various ups and downs, I have completed all subjects for the degree in Library and Information Management through Charles Sturt University - with a second major in English Literature. Happy, so happy. Results are officially released next Friday, but with a distinction in my last subject Information Technology in Libraries, I finish with a respectable GPA.
My last report recommended introducing Web 2.0 applications to a TAFE library's service model to enable staff and students to engage with the library as both physical and virtual space with the aim of supporting teaching and learning in a twenty-first century educational environment.
Graduation will be in April next year, and then it's onward and upward and the collection of more university polo-shirts. A big thank you to Roy Sanders, our course coordinator, as well as Anne Lloyd (inf.lit. guru), Bob Pymm and other subject coordinators and of course the amazing people in the library. Highly recommend CSU.
Highlights? Earning a near perfect score and an HD for a very difficult subject on which I initially knew not a lot, and we had to do a report with two others using online communication.
I enjoyed getting to know CSU at the Res. School, including The Hill. And I totally enjoyed nailing the reference lists - it's the librarian in me. Seriously, many varied subjects with many challenges. Literature in Education, from the Masters' course, allowed me to explore postmodern picture storybooks and verse novels and their use in the classroom.
I have worked in primary and secondary libraries, a post-secondary library, in public libraries, and as a freelance cataloguer. I was a library technician but I wanted to give more. Now I am a librarian and information manager. I could work in libraries, records management, archives, or related industries. So what are my library philosophies?
Libraries are for everyone, and the library is everywhere. Libraries connect people to ideas. Libraries promote the free flow of information and enable all Australians to access recorded knowledge, information, and creative works. Libraries are vital community hubs in which, and from which, amazing things can happen.
As a librarian and information manager, my particular focuses are assisting clients to develop their information literacy, and to enable them to explore their relationship with literature. Double Lit. I also embrace the community hub aspect - both getting out in the community (with storytelling, wielding the portable barcode reader, educating clients/students on research skills or aspects of the physical collection) and bringing the community in (love the orchestra spaces in both SLQ and Brisbane Square Library).
So where to from here? If I was in the south-east corner I would be applying for the public librarian position in the Warwick library. Best wishes to all who do apply. May you do well for your community. More polo-shirts for me - opening up of employment prospects - a postgrad qualification in education in 2009. Wish me good fortune!

poetry saturday

I've lived a whole life since last Saturday. Let me cast my mind back to relive that amazing weekend. Yes, not only Poetry Saturday, but also Short Story Sunday with that charismatic haijin Ross Clark. Ross played the ocean drum as he performed a poem (reminds me of my long haired man playing mandolin at the markets in Good Fortune, except Ross has a shaved head!). He lead us through various steps to building poems. I wrote a thoughtful poem about my grandfather and his home in Parker Street by the beach (now the site of a McDonalds - and us descended from the Campbells!). We played Texas Qld Eight Card Stud as a story prompt, and Accordion which was a group shared story project in which each person could only see the last line from the previous writer. The story could go in interesting directions. Ross has an award-winning poem in this year's The Best Australian Poems 2008 (Black Inc.) which I picked up from the bookstore this week. I also bought his chapbook At the turn of the seasons: A haiku journal (Sweetwater Press). I am in love with Ross' poetry and will endeavour to spend more time exploring poetic forms. I took an invigorating walk along the beach on Sunday morning before the workshop. I recorded the sound of the waves breaking against the rocks and wrote a poem in the sand with a stick. You can read some of Ross' past haiku on tinywords.

17 November, 2008

christmas gift with zing!

Our little zine fair at the markets was a success! And fun. We had a good position and enjoyed the atmosphere. Stall holders were looked after well, with free tea and coffee and a complimentary cup of popcorn. I wore my new Queensland Writers Centre t-shirt which prompted one stallholder to ask me for assistance in writing assignments for his politics and history degree. Hahaha. We were very near the handmade chocolates stall, and I resisted right until the end and then bought half a dozen Christmas themed chocolates. Yum. Special thanks to Shar who was a great companion at the fair. Shar now owns the storyjeans featured on my slideshow.
For those of you who bought Good Fortune - enjoy your literary snack. For those who bought TEN for the young writers in your life - their creativity is going to go through the roof.

Today's good news - both zines are now in stock at the local Visitor Information Centre (thank you, Kelli). It's a Christmas gift with zing for readers and writers alike. And you get your own special fortune when you buy GF. Go, buy one!

Submissions are now open for issue #3 which will come out next year. Jacaranda zine showcases short fiction and poetry from Fraser Coast writers, with local images. Want to be part of it? Contact me for the guidelines.

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.

13 November, 2008

reading in pyjamas

A quiz from Bronwyn at The Pyjama Foundation, and my responses.

As a child, which book was your favourite? Eleanor Farjeon's The Little Bookroom
What books from your childhood do you still possess? The Little Bookroom, The Monster at the End of this Book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Magic Pudding, Anne of Green Gables, Winnie The Pooh, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, etc etc.
As a child, who influenced you by reading aloud? my Mum.
What do you believe are the benefits gained from reading aloud to children? Togetherness, Big person pronounces the difficult words so Little person learns, Reading is seen as important, Big and Little get to laugh together and make outrageous sounds together, Big and Little can explore design elements and the professions of writer and illustrator, Little and Big go on many adventures together through the world of print.
Name a book you secretly love, but never admit you read? I'll admit to all on my list (you want me to say the Sweet Dreams series??) - there are more that I want to read but haven't.
What book would you choose to read aloud to children? Eric Carle and Pamela Allen's books, Mick Inkpen's Wibbly Pig, something with rhythm and repetition and interesting concepts.
What is your favourite movie made from a book you have read? the Narnia Chronicles, the Spyderwick Chronicles,
Who is your favourite book character? Griselda, and Tashi
Where is your special place to read? Hobart Botanical Gardens
What book are you reading now? Kate Grenville's The Lieutenant (thanks, Dave), The Lollipop Shoes, looking forward to Nick Earl's next in '09, and trying to get to Inkheart.

01 November, 2008

school tutor

I've recently completed 36 hours of tutoring for three fabulous middle-school students over a three month period. As an Evenstart tutor I worked on the Investigations into Components of Writing program tackling punctuation, spelling, vocabulary, sentence control and ideas. I enjoyed showing them their creative minds at work, and seeing them all improve in test results. A created a beautiful poem about October lillies, M did well in his wordgames, and I had such laughs with B over our bizarre collaborative four word story project. We had a combination of activities using the Internet, writing on paper and on the blackboard, using the Bananagrams tiles and playing word snap. That was so much fun I'll have to do it again.

words in film

Congratulations to Jason Van Genderen (and associates) on his Tropfest win with Mankind is no Island. Tonya Turner wrote in The Courier Mail that this is a moving, poetic and inspired story about homelessness without a single word spoken. Instead, words and images captured on street signs, t-shirts, posters, shop fronts, movie boards, traffic signs and menus fill the screen one at a time as a gritty urban narrative. Keri Smith opened my mind to the stories blossoming all around us and I developed story sparks for my children's workshops. One was 'Walk around town, noting the t-shirt messages and signage you see. Use some words in your opening paragraph.' I was thinking, note them in a journal/notebook, but that was before I started carrying a camera around. But, hey, Jason shot MINI on his mobile phone. It is beautiful and raw, and will hopefully inspire others to practice 'the gentle art of hearing'.
View MINI on YouTube here.

Other memorable films with words - Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues and INXS' Mediate from the Kick album (oh yeah).
And Carrie Donovan flicking the library cards on YouTube with Hey, You/Ask.

what's a zine?

Joanna mentioned that people at markets are always asking her what a zine is, so I thought I'd better have an explanation ready myself. These are my notes.

  • A literary snack delivered straight from the writer to the reader: independent, organic and handmade
  • five minute fiction
  • an artistic literary format in which you will find stories, illustrations, images, poetry, reviews, interviews, comic strips, opinions, beliefs, etc.
  • quirky
  • funky
  • they can be privately treasured or shared
  • non-mainstream
  • it's about self-expression
  • it's about exploring your art
  • it's about getting sticky with glue and familiar with a photocopier
  • it's C6-sized, A4, mini, it's handstitched, it's folded, stapled, coloured, designed, typed, handdrawn, notes in a matchbox, printed on paper, sold, given away - it's whatever you want it to be
  • something anyone can make and share.

Which zines do you read?

18 October, 2008

Good Fortune

Good Fortune, my second issue of Jacaranda zine, will be released into the wild in November at the markets. GF contains two shortish stories, four poems, related images and a treat. Michelle wrote A Christmas wish and I wrote Good Fortune and the poems.
It's 10.5 x 15 cm, 32 pages, printed on white paper and hammered card, stitched with purple tapestry cotton. Costs $3. A Christmas gift with zing!

The Jacaranda project is a collaborative effort with other local writers to showcase our creative work for local readers.
Did you enjoy the zine? Comment below.
Want to be a part of the next issue? Fraser Coast writers can Email me.
Exciting adventures await you


TEN ways to share your writing, my PowerPoint presentation is now on Slideshare. Right click on the button in the sidebar.
Links are in the notes for you to explore.
A very special thank you to Joanna for the moresome zine images on 10 & 11.

After viewing, please comment on why and how you share your writing. Merci.

After loading, checking, reloading, etc etc, I have just discovered that Slideshare cut the .com off my footer. But the link is in the final notes anyway. Frustration.

16 October, 2008

mary popped in

Today 6pm-7pm, City Library, Mary Poppins Literary and Art Awards presentation, followed by photographs*, tea and creamy delicious treats proudly prepared by the Proud Marys Association (lovely ladies all).

The MP awards have been going for some years now, and I've judged in different categories over four years. I always feel excited to read the stories because you can feel the energy that's been put into entering by both the kids, and their enthusiastic teachers and parents. This year two sisters were awarded in the primary category, and a very creative young lady from my school was awarded second in the secondary category (I judged primary). Nancy Bates, editor of the local newspaper, read a precis of each writers' fantasy story which drew ooohs and aaahs from the audience. We heard tales of haunted houses and destroyed planets, military standoffs, vengeful dragons and happy endings in a fairyland.
The story with time capsules drew a few appreciative nods as our city's time capsule from long ago was buried but cannot be found. Curiouser and curiouser.

Winners were awarded lovely large sums of money each and certificates, and the winning drawing was also framed. The children of Mungar School had produced a vibrant illustrated book, and two participating students gave a wonderful thank you speech.
After photographs the party moved upstairs to partake in tea and creamy treats. Yum.
A special thank you to the Annes and the Proud Marys for their enthusiasm for young people's artistic pursuits, and for making me feel so welcome.
Ten points to the sponsors including the Cherry Tree Foundation and Anne Russell, and to the Councillors who attended, including Debbie, also leader of a great writing group.

And a big hurrah to Robyn, a wonderful child-friendly City Librarian (or whatever her title is after amalgamation).
And lest you think it was all chat, consider our own Mary Poppins was in attendance so what do you think we sang?
Yes, of course we did. Now let's see if I can spell it. Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious... spell check!
And Spoonful of Sugar.

Nothing like a song to loosen a crowd.

* update Saturday 18th: 'Creative students reap Poppins prizes' in the newspaper. Congratulations!

And earlier today... remember Kyle McDonald's One Red Paperclip (ORP) swap from 2006? Today a young girl came into the Library and offered me a swap - her little star notebook for whatever I had. She and three others were involved in a class project ala ORP which perhaps the teacher had read about but the girls had no idea. So I told my swapper anyway. 'cause it was a cool project. I was in the Library though, surrounded by expensive, gorgeous, resources and none of it mine to swap. I can't just give away the latest YA book or a laptop can I? No. No I can't. But, aha, I found something to swap. A freebie from two years ago so it was swappable - a paper Queensland flag on a stick. So I got a notebook and she got a flag to swap on (and she learned what the Queensland flag looked like - so not a bad day in the Library).


12 October, 2008

library 2.0

Everyone* in libraries is experimenting with 2.0 apps nowish. I cannot believe the number of blogs I've visited that have started up in September, showcasing their ventures into LibraryThing and YouTube and RSS... School libraries, public, unis and TAFEs. Medical libraries?
This from BCC: Libary staff learning and developing web skills together.
I've been doing just the same through uni - made a gorgeous blog (10/10 for design), loaded it with apps. and reviewed a few articles. Had fun. Learned a lot. I'm writing a report now titled The twenty-first century TAFE Library: Creating learning possibilities by bringing together people, information and technology**. And creating a slideshare presentation.

The unconference is the thing (at SLQ, thanks Mary). And here are the 23 Things from PLCMC.

** adapted from TAFE Qld's Library Network mission statement.


08 October, 2008

28 September, 2008

gold coast fun

I'm back from a fabulous week at the coast. I had a place in the mountains but I ventured out to Beechmont Markets, Natural Arch, a gemstone cafe with the most delicious sausage rolls ever, the Australian Outback Spectacular (and it was), Nerang Library and Surfers Paradise. In Surfers I got lost in Infinity and revisited the forty year old Wax Museum (ghoulish!).
On the bookshelf where I was staying I discovered an old Paper Wasp zine filled with inspirational haiku.

This Nerang Library is six years old, so bright and fresh with attractive signage and lots of light. It's part of the Gold Coast City Council, and they're trialling this blog for young people for three months: blurbit. Go, energise them. And I found a Discworld picture book I didn't know existed! Where's my cow? Postmodern and discy. Very helpful librarians there too. And you know I loved the signage out front. I picked up the new quarterly magazine from State Library of Queensland there. You can subscribe by going to What's On.

I was excited to see painted TSBs in Surfers. Here are two. First in Elkhorn Avenue and the mermaids in Ferny Avenue near the Wax Museum. And a very Sesame Street moment with the number 33. It's nice to be home.

17 September, 2008

Pamela Travers is watching over you

The Fraser Coast region can count a number of writers amongst its past and present residents. Pamela Travers' most famous character, Mary Poppins, is all over Maryborough in most interesting ways. But most importantly, the region supports the Mary Poppins Literary and Art Awards, and the deadline for entries is coming up next week. The theme is fantasy, and the genres short stories, illustrated books and an artwork. It's always good to see a city supporting its young writers so they grow up to be .. bigger writers with publishing contracts and amazing literacy skills.
I've been invited along to judge a section, and I'm totally looking forward to the stories coming my way. Make them fantastical and thoughtful, creative and attention-grabbing (and pay attention to your grammar).

You know, every time you walk past Mary in Cherry Tree Lane, you can imagine that one day there'll be a statue of one of your characters on a street corner or in a park somewhere someday. Keep writing!

created at

What writing opportunities does your Council offer young people?

01 September, 2008

TSBs on Web 2.0

View 500 images on flickr: Brisbane's Traffic Signal Boxes

23 August, 2008

creative writing workshop

Today, 9:30-11:00am. Free. First floor, City Library. For young people aged 8-15. Sponsored by Zonta. Included launch of TEN zine. Morning tea kindly provided by the Annes. Stories with zing!

Seventeen young people filled the room with treasure today, using words with zing as they played in the writing gameshow. I had far too many activities planned for a 90 minute session, but we got through Open this way, What a character, Street Poet and a bit of wordplay and talked about entering competitions and sharing their work with family and friends. I launched my TEN zine there, with a free copy for each hard-working writer as well as a goodies bag with a few bits and pieces as well as pens (sorry about the pens, guys - we found out they're rubbish. If I'd got you all my favourite pen, the Pentel metal tip with liquid gel blue ink, then you'd have something to boast about).It was a heap of fun. Young writers came from all over the city, with many creative ideas and stories just waiting to be written and shared. The Annes have invited me back. I love them.And Cynthia Tait is cool too. It was her workshop I went to at QWC last year, Teaching writers to teach, that helped me plan a workshop.Gameshow players, and other young local writers will be invited to submit short stories, microfiction and poetry to me next year for a young writers' edition of the Jacaranda zine. Until then, keep those imaginations sparking, your senses sharp, your pens handy... y'know... keep writing, and look out for your photo in the paper next week. Love your work!

22 August, 2008

magnetic poetry

Link to these Magnetic Poetry sites to play, learn and create. An array of applications are possible for the school classroom and library.
Previously you were restricted to your own fridge!

Magnetic Poetry Snaith Primary School Magnet Poems

Magnetic Poetry (and the real thing in physical form for your non-virtual fridge)

Magnetic Poetry from Poetry4kids

Eric Harshbarger's Magnetic Poetry on James Roy's site.

Magnetic Poetry Shop. (2008). Chipboard words and stickers. Retrieved 22 August, 2008 from Magnetic Poetry website:

Magnetic Poetry Shop. (2008). Kids Stuff. Retrieved 22 August, 2008 from Magnetic Poetry website:

21 August, 2008

USQ - very 2.0

Digital Open Day USQ - very Library 2.0.

Firman, E. (2008). Library Services for Distance Students at USQ. Retrieved 21 August, 2008 from YouTube website:

08 August, 2008


The flowers TSB* in Brougham Street. The Perfection TSB in the City.
Go there and see.

* Traffic Signal Box

03 August, 2008

TEN zine

The first public Jacaranda zine (issue 2) is called TEN because it's a tip sheet for young writers with '10 creative sparks, 10 ways to share your work, 10 tips for getting published', etc. It includes black and white illustrations and images. Twenty pages, stapled. 10.5 x 15cm. It's done !!! and I'll launch it at my first writers' workshop later this month. What fun.After that you can buy it locally for $3.Order one or several through - remove (nospam) from the address.

22 July, 2008


While blogs, wikis and websites, etc. are invaluable in Library 2.0 as platforms for information dissemination and virtual communication services, Web 2.0 tools can also be used for clients' entertainment purposes (and they learn as they play). Various story spaces exist online on which the user/client/reader/writer/teacher/student/librarian can either collaborate on the construction of a story or interact with the story by following hyperlinks. This is a sophisticated Web 2.0 version of the ever-popular Choose-Your-Own Adventure storybooks.

The reader can read online and/or create online. It's storywriting Web 2.0. As they work they will gain understanding and skills in the capabilities of information communication technologies (ICTs) and be able to apply this in their informational and communication work.
Even considering the basics: what is a hyperlink? what is an anchor? Use of the hypertext media will also give Librarian 1.0 an insight into how 21st century clients gather and process their information. Explore.

DotLit Hypermedia:

Wacky Web Tales on Education Place:

Read Write Think lesson plan:

Even Victoria Police want your hypertext choose-your-owns:

Joel and Cat set the story straight: - the website on which virtual readers were invited to contribute a few lines each in a shared story that mirrored the tandem story captured in the book written collaboratively between Nick Earls and Rebecca Sparrow (probably using some email communication). Entrants wrote online or sent SMS.
Penguin certainly reached out to their client base on their own turf.

20 July, 2008

wordle and education

Wordle! My favourite cloud toy with some innovative uses in literacy education. See the Teaching with Technology Edublog. Free to share under a Creative Commons Licence.

12 July, 2008

brisbane libraries buzz

Brisbane has some top class libraries and we have been tramping all over them this week, learning about exciting library-type things. Our group of CSU students, from various Australian towns and cities (plus two from China and Fiji), came together from BASLIM and the two Masters courses with two of our lecturers, Roy and Jake. Over four full days we were led through many libraries by incredibly professional and passionate librarians.

State Library of Queensland - welcome to the 21st century! - I love The Corner and The Edge and the loungey InfoZone. And we could have done with stories round the Kuril Dhagun Fire Pit in this chilly weather.

Brisbane Square Library - vibrant, progressive, interactive, with an envy-making book sorting machine. And Fast Backs for popular fiction titles.

Supreme Court Library using the Moyes' Classification Scheme - enjoy your placement there Lea.

GoMA's art research library - librarians make significant supportive contribution to world-class exhibitions including the stunning Picasso collection on now.[Awe-inspiring Cezanne, Degas, Renoir and Modigliani on show from Picasso's collection].

QUT's law library and main student library - virtual reference services and information literacy skills embedded in the curriculum.

Qld Parliamentary Library- and I found my dream book room in the O'Donovan Library: floor to ceiling filled bookshelves with those tall roving ladders.

Other groups visited libraries at the Public Works, Mater Health Services and BGGS before we all celebrated with yum cha in the city.

Other highlights of the week - crossing the Goodwill Bridge (Brisbane has a pedestrian bridge across the river!), walking a lot which is a great way to explore a city, photographing more TSBs (I'll upload them from home), and I'm blogging this from another progressive BCC library in Fairfield. There's a writers' group going on across from me and lots of people are browsing and using the computers (mix of genders and ages). And BCC libraries were featured last night on Extra (tv show) - Chermside was one I think.
What do you like about your library?

13 June, 2008

street art

How lovely to have books delivered in the mail. This one is a must for anyone who loves what artists have done to those harsh traffic signal boxes in Brisbane. It's Brisbane Traffic Art.1 and it features 200 of the altered TSBs with artists' statements and they're listed by suburb alphabetically. I like best the paintings that incorporate some aspect of the local community, like trouts on a box in Trout Road, and kids' faces on a box near a school. I look around my city and see grey traffic signal boxes - not so engaging.I took this butterfly pic. a while back near Fairfield Road. The book was compiled by Queensland Urban Ecology, the people who organise the artists to do all this stunning work. And they invite anyone to apply to paint a box, you don't have to be a professional artist. In fact, their TSB work is a great career move for many.Buy the book, take the tour, and enjoy! Check them out online here.

04 June, 2008

verse novels

I’ve found YA verse novels to be incredibly powerful in imagery and emotional intensity, and certainly ‘social-realism novels’ as described by Margaret Cook in her article in The Age: The triumph of hope.Joy Alexander (2005) charts the development of the form from Brenda Seabrooke's Judy Scuppernong (1990) through Australia's first verse novel (is it?), Steven Herrick's Love, Ghosts and Nose Hair (1996), Libby Hathorn's Volcano Boy (the one I haven't read yet) and VNs from Americans, Karen Hesse and Sharon Creech (Love that Dog).
Catherine Bateson's His name in fire (2006) chronicles a short time in a high-unemployment/high-birth-rate country town. Like another of Catherine's verse novels, A Dangerous Girl (2000), this narrative in verse features an outsider coming to an established group. In both there are consequences of this intrusion, but in His name the consequence is more hopeful, or hopeful without the painful despair of a suicide attempt climax as in ADG. YA verse novels can be recognised as valuable reading material for all students. They show that poetry can be contemporary and real and reflective of one’s own life and culture. Using a first person viewpoint connects readers to the story, and the presentation of opposing viewpoints shows a fuller picture of each character – their responses, and others’ responses to them. His name in fire provides readers with a reference point to examine their own beliefs and values, question their own responses to situations. Would you be patient with Emma? Would you stay in this town? Would you participate in a circus? There would be so many activities you could do with this; Two students as Emma and Matthew intertwining their monologues, research on work-for-the-dole programs (and yes, I agree with Mozza, the circus did have more razzamataz than a planting native grasses project!) (although that would be environmentally positive…), podcasting some of each character's narrative, exploring the representations of family, place and fathers in YA verse novels (and YA fiction generally).... or, of course, just read them for fun.

Alexander, J. (2005). The Verse-novel: A new genre. Children's Literature in Education. 36(3) Septemberp. 269-283. Retrieved 29 March 2008 from EbscoHost.

Here's a link to YMRL's Youth Lounge with a list of verse novels, and here's my list of Australian verse novels that I have read, and can recommend (various ages/stages of development):

Cold Skin / Steven Herrick (most recently listed as an Older Readers' Notable in the CBCA awards, not quite making the shortlist)
The Spangled Drongo / Steven Herrick
Love, Ghosts and Nose Hair / Steven Herrick
A Place Like This / Steven Herrick
By the River / Steven Herrick
Lonesome Howl / Steven Herrick
The Simple Gift / Steven Herrick
Do-Wrong Ron / Steven Herrick
A Dangerous Girl / Catherine Bateson
The Year it All Happened / Catherine Bateson
His Name in Fire / Catherine Bateson
Jinx / Margaret Wild
One Night / Margaret Wild.

15 May, 2008

gallery notes

What a glorious life! I love Arnold Zable and I love Angela Nagel. My short story Gallery Notes was commended by AZ in this year's Daffodil Day Arts Awards - it didn't win win, but it was shortlisted with 29 others out of 130 entries nationwide. In '06 my short story Unfinished Business was Highly Commended in the awards but my haiku string didn't rate last year. That's okay. I know my stories are stronger than my poetry but I'm willing to work on that. Angela is the Arts Awards Officer, and if you're in Melbourne say a cheery hi from me. She'll be at the Exhibition Opening on Saturday 19 July (15W Gallery again) where all the stories, poems and artwork will be on display before touring regional Victoria. Go - donate to a good cause, and look for this first line: On their first visit her father invariably parked her too close to the artwork which distorted her view of the subjects he talked about. A
nd if you find yourself in Brisbane's Wesley Hospital (the setting of my story), I hope you too can forget your troubles by indulging in a little art therapy. And, just a side note... yay for wordbox - two years old yesterday and encouraging creativity all over the country more than ever! We've some strong opportunities for young writers available and that's good news for the arts scene. Thanks for using wordbox as your handy writing resource. Now, off with ye. I've a day off tomorrow, last assessment's been handed in, so I'll be writing. A little story inspired by fortune cookies from Simply Wok. Tomorrow!

13 April, 2008

little girl zine

We did it! The first Jacaranda zine! A fun collaboration via email with Nicole in Ohio, the little girl zine celebrates our friendship which began when we lived next door to each other in another place, another time.LGZ had a limited print run of two, one for Nicole and one for me.Production details: 7 pages handwritten and printed text (American Typewriter and Times) with colour and black and white photos and illustrations on pink and white paper, vellum and hammered card, all stitched together using Shar's pink tapestry cotton (great idea Shar!).#1 will be in the mail tomorrow. Love you Nic.
Click on the image to see the card detail. Tough to get a needle through :)

12 April, 2008

share your story

Of course! Take your favourite story with you wherever you go. Read it on the train. Could you, would you, on a train? Over at wordbox I promote writing competitions and publishing opportunities, but they're just two ways to share your work. These story book jeans, via Alison @ Publishers Weekly, were selling on Etsy. You could fit maybe a 500 word story. Or your first chapter... Quite a few haikus.Don't hide your work in the drawer. Read it at a public event (a poetry day, during Book Week or at an art gallery). Make a story or poetry wall at home/school/uni/work. Work with an actor friend to perform your play or monologue.Make a zine. You know you can. Give your story or poem as a gift. And make these jeans!

10 March, 2008

postmodern picture books

Did anyone else see The Red Tree at Out of the Box in 2004?Brilliant, inspiring stuff! We met Shaun Tan there, and had a backstage tour. He was so patient with his young audiences as he explained his inspiration and illustrative processes. He's one of quite a few Aussies tantalising us with postmodernism in our picture books. There's so much debate around book week awards time because of the wide range of what's published in picture book form. But there's so much to discover, so many ways of creating and telling a story. Postmodern picture books can appeal to different age groups and to people with different reading abilities. They challenge readers' expectations with a mix of illustrative styles, unusual layout of text and pictures, intertextuality, intrusive narration and often, no closure. I love that there is such a variety of text forms to choose and to learn from. Rather than simply teaching writing using the linear narrative form, I like to see postmodern theories embraced so students learn other ways of seeing - those students will then go on to write and create outside of the box. I know that some teachers are using claymation and storyboarding (to name a few techniques) as part of the creative process. Go with it, so that publishers know pomo works commercially!
Here's a couple of lesson plans (read, write, think & carol hurst), and here's a short list of pomo picture books (lots of Aussies):
Troy Thompson’s radical prose folio / Gary Crew & Craig Smith
Grandad’s phase / Archimede Fusillo & Terry Denton
The Watertower / Gary Crew & Steven Woolman
Beneath the surface / Gary Crew & Steven Woolman
The three fishing Brothers Gruff / Ben Galbraith
Woolvs in the sitee / Margaret Wild & Anne Spudvilas
Do not open this book / Micheaela Muntean & Pascal Lemaitre
There’s a monster at the end of this book / Jon Stone & Mike Smollin
The Paw in The Purple Diamond / Natalie Jane Prior & Terry Denton
The Red Tree / Shaun Tan
Voices in the park / Anthony Browne
The rabbits / John Marsden & Shaun Tan
Zoom / Istvan Banyai
I hate my teddy bear / David McKee
For the love of Vincent / Brenda V. NortheastNow,

postmodern novels: The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall.
What a great time to be reading!

09 February, 2008

zine day

But creative-in-a-different-way, but kind of similar in that you're writing and illustrating and designing and distributing, is the ancient art of zine-making. Inspired enormously by Joanna's Little 6 and Not a Chance issues received this week. Hope everyone's photocopying themselves silly at Sticky's Festival of the Photocopier throughout February. Jacaranda's in the draft sketch and text stage here, with a couple of other writers interested in contributing. Here's an opposites poem for you with 14th Feb. coming up. It's also Library Lovers Day. I'll be in the library that day.

What is the opposite of love?
Ask me not; find love.

( the 100s shelves)

09 January, 2008

if you're not blogging...

... go to Lili's class on 28th Feb and learn all about it (Mary Kajewski from SLQ's OPAL showed me). Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 notes some good reasons why print journalists should start a blog. A few of those could also apply to writers and artists - my favourites: creating a platform for journalism (read: the written word) that isn't dependent on a corporate entity's financial fortunes / learning how to use the technologies that are transforming media / not defining yourself as (only) a print journalist. My favourite is Keri Smith's wish jar journal ~ totally creative, and I learnt a bit about how to write code from her site.