I thought I’d surprise you all and I mean all (I know how many of you are eagerly following my blogging efforts, alright just the one of you in Ulan Bator) with an update and a recommendation to check out my new YouTube videos. I decided it was time to actually get some of my Shoctopus poems on video and found a great guy, Michael in Canberra, to actually do the business and we ended up posting about ten or so. So you can either check them all out on YouTube itself or on my Books page here. And now for the update.
I’m still here. I’m still doing it.
Right. Let’s get down to the business of refashioning my reputation as a once-a-year-blogger. Here’s my second blog in, well two months. they’re pouring out of me. But I’m so excited I just can’t hide it as the song goes. I swore not to start the blog with ‘I’m just back from’ but as it happens I’m just back from The Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival. What a good time. I’m telling you, those festival organisers are so good. They made me feel so welcome, catered to my every whim (before I’d even had it) and provided thousands of children to hurl myself at, metaphorically speaking. This was the first outing of Shoctopus, a rather wonderful giant purple octopus created by my dear friend Denise who actualised the cover of my eponymous book. He seemed to go down pretty well with the kids and I loved doing my little Shoctopus chant with the younger ones. I also brought Lennie The Hungry Leech, a finger puppet (fabricated by the House of Denise) and he created the right amount of delighted loathing in the audience. Oh, and cheeky monkey went down well too. But just in case you think my gigs were all about soft toys… I did offer up a goodly amount of poetry to the kids and they listened more than attentively so I couldn’t be happier really. As did the teachers at my LitChat PD talk who took copious notes. Oh and the surprise gig was being bounced onto the opening night panel in the place of John Marsden. August shoes to fill but I thoroughly enjoyed that too with the excellent and dynamic Oliver Phommavanh as MC. And while I’m on the other writers what a friendly and convivial bunch they were. We had plenty of good yarn/ dinner sessions and it struck me again how undefensive and supportive children’s writers are. A fine breed methinks.
All in all a fabulous and rich time in Mackay. It’s hard to get used to staring out the window at the paddocks and forest here in Braidwood and not seeing two students hovering, waiting to guide me to the next gig and enquiring about when I’d like lunch. Thanks so much to them, all the organisers, in particular Sonia, who remained cool as a cucumber. Gee I always have a good time in Queensland. And I’ll be back, I hope. Oh, and this is proof jenny that I’m now connected. Via twig, bark and magpie tweets to the wider world.
This is my first post for a long time. Alright, probably ever. No worries, I don’t expect anyone to read it. But I just received a lovely email from Diane Idle who teaches at Churchlands Primary School in Perth and I wanted to share her words. I did two days of poetry workshops at Churchlands including a poetry performance for 300 Yr 2-6 kids. It’s a terrific school and Diane has organised a mini writer’s festival there for the last couple of years. I was lucky enough to get a gig, the only children’s author from ‘Over East’ and though they worked me extremely hard, I had a ball. The more kids I can connect with around poetry the better. That’s really why I’m writing poetry for kids, though as my wife says I’m probably also writing it because I’m still a bit of a kid myself. Be that as it may, it’s a special thrill when the words go out and the response comes back: yeah, we want more! I also did two days at another excellent school, Wembley Independent Primary which has 820 kids…now that’s big. I maybe saw half of them and admit by the end of my time there I was a bit punch drunk. But it was all worth it and especially when Les, the Principal, after I’d done a poetry performance in their undercover arena said ‘See that boy? He’s the most disengaged child in the school and he’s been lapping up your poetry.’ Now that makes me happy! Anyway, here’s what Diane Idle (Churchlands primary) had to say: ‘Harry! It was a sight to behold in the undercover arena…300 children glued to your every word. the poetry captivated them and I hope catapulted them out onto their own poetry journey….there has been SUPER feedback. Families discussing poetry over dinner, arguing over the best poem!!! A year 3 girl who is usually too shy to say anything, but went up to you and asked for her hat to be signed. her Dad was overwhelmed. She has announced that she loves poetry and will write a poem about her family. It just goes on and on…’ So that’s a bit of a warm glow to bask in as nights turn a little colder here on the Southern Tablelands!
I thought it was about time I made this site look a bit up to date seeing as I have a new book coming out in a few weeks. A book of illustrated poems for 7-13 yr olds, Shoctopus – poems to grip you. I’m not going to waste your time confessing my total inertia in the blog world to date. Though I’ve been happily writing poems about the perils of having too many devices, 3D printing and more. (Maybe I’ll put one or two up so you can see what I’ve been up to.)No, it’s goodbye to the old fogey and hello to the new, dynamic Harry who wants to reach out and connect with all you people out there…