This week I received notification from the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund that my application for funding was unsuccessful. I had applied for a mere $25,000 to establish a website to be called Australian Children’s Poetry. Of the 75 applications from CAL under its Cultural Fun, 34 were successful and a total of $678,000 allocated.
My idea of having a unique website that focussed on Australian children’s poets and their poetry was to redress the lack of interest in children’s poetry in our country. As a children’s poetry anthology compiler (Our Home is Dirt by Sea, Walker Books, 2013, and Every Day is a Birthday, currently with a publisher), I have worked with the Walker Books rights’ manager trying to locate poets for permissions.
Most poets do not have social media or website presence and it was really difficult locating poets or, in the case of deceased poets, the managers of their estates. A dedicated website would have done much to redress this problem — and would do so for future anthology compilers. Such a website would also showcase Australian children’s poetry, providing a central location for anthologists, teachers, children, academics and others to look for poems and relevant information.
As I wrote in my CAL application, one major outcome of having a children’s poetry website would be to have a coordinating source for competitions, poetry workshops, conferences festivals and schools’ visits that featured children’s poetry (such as they have in the UK, where they also have a Children’s Poet Laureate).
It’s sad that in Australia at the moment there is only one ongoing market for children’s poetry: the NSW Department of Education School Magazine. It’s even sadder that CAL did not see the amazing possibilities of a website devoted to Australian children’s poetry.