Here’s a thought: if all of us with a love of, and connection to, Australian children’s poetry united, we might just put poetry and Australian children, teachers, publishers and booksellers on the same page. United, we can be a powerful force! We can bring poetry into schools and into bookshops and into the community at large. We can exert pressure on organisations such as the CBCA and/or state and federal governments to fund prizes, competitions and/or otherwise promote children’s poetry.
Recently I asked poets to consider approaching school/s to offer to present a poetry reading and/or poetry writing workshops. Now I’m asking teachers and librarians to make a conscious effort to book poets when they next decide to have a children’s writer in their school (see poets' contact details on the site http://wwww.australianchildrenspoetry.com.au)
Another idea for interested people is to organise poetry readings in schools, either by students, teachers and/or visitors. Every teacher in the school could read their favourite poem at a special celebration assembly; there might also be a mini eisteddfod devoted to children’s poetry recitations!
There is interest in schools; recently poet and verse novelist Sherryl Clark emailed me that she is undertaking a May Gibbs residency in Brisbane in May, part of which is presenting workshops in schools. Initially, when Sherryl suggested poetry workshops, the State Library thought that maybe there wouldn’t be enough interest and that she should offer story writing as well. Sherryl recently received a draft schedule and four of the five schools requested poetry! Point taken!
Am I being too optimistic in thinking that together we can revolutionise children’s poetry in schools and in our community? What do you think? Do you want to be part of the Poetry Revolution?
Feel free to send your thoughts and/or experiences to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dianne (Di) Bates is known as a children’s author who lives in Australia. Her first anthology of Australian children’s poetry, Our Home is Dirt by Sea, will be published in 2015 by Walker Books Australia. Meanwhile, she has published a collection of anonymous verse, Erky Perky Silly Stuff (Five Senses Education).