My New Mascot
Every sports team has a mascot to cheer them on, but to my knowledge, no writer has ever had a mascot to barrack for them. Yet there we are, tucked away alone in our garrets with a goal to reach and the need of encouragement to get there. With this in mind, I decided to commission my neighbour, 12 year-old budding artist, Montana, to draw a mascot for me. I explained to her about my current project and we took it from there.
The brief: I’m presently working on an historical novel called Blackbird. It’s a story set in the 1880’s about a boy called Narua whose brother is blackbirded (kidnapped) from his home in the South Sea Islands and forced to work in the sugarcane fields of Queensland. Determined to find his brother and bring him home, Narua signs up to go to Australia on a recruitment ship, and so begins his search.
Montana decided to draw a blackbird with wings of fire, recalling the idea of a phoenix that appears to have died but is actually in the process of being reborn. This creative idea perfectly captured how the South Sea Islanders have suffered and yet their legacy survives in the contribution they’ve made to Queensland’s booming economy, and in their descendants, many of whom live in Queensland to this day. The fiery wings also tie in with the way the sugarcane fields were set on fire in order to make the cane easier to harvest.
As for the ball and chain, Montana used this symbol of slavery to show that while many islanders came to Australia voluntarily, an estimated 5000 were tricked, coerced or kidnapped. The practice finally came to an end which is why the chain in the picture is broken in two.
My new mascot is now up on my wall beside my writing desk. It’s a fabulous picture and a daily encouragement for me to keep going with my novel.
Unsticking Stuckness: the Unexpected Benefits of Book Spine Poetry
I found myself struggling with writer’s block today. I was a bug stuck to the fly paper of my plot, flapping about going nowhere. It was time to free myself and, as so often happens, that required doing something completely different. So I set aside my novel and decided to have a go at book spine poetry.
Here’s my first effort:
For those of you who haven’t heard of this increasingly popular art form, it’s very simple and a lot of fun.
How do you make a book spine poem?
Raid your bookshelf for interesting titles. Each title will be a line in your poem.
Arrange the titles so they run together to make poem.
Stack them in a pile and photograph it.
Send the photo to your friends and family and await their admiration!
If you have a lot of book shelves, you might want to write down where you found each book so it’s easier to put them back later. I learned this the hard way!
If you go to school, have a chat to the librarian and see if they’d be up for a book spine poetry challenge.
Here’s another one of mine, this time on a serious topic:
And a final one to close:
And remember, “There’s no money in poetry, but there’s no poetry in money, either.” (Robert Graves)
When the Moon is Swimming Naked
Whenever I read the English language version of a poem by, for example, the fabulously-named Polish poet, Wisława Szymborska, I wonder how it is translators manage to convey the essence of the original poem as they cross the river from one language to the next.
I’m fortunate enough to be part of a project that has attempted to do just that. Mark Carthew (based in Australia) and Kit Kelen (based in Hong Kong) have brought together a bunch of Australian poets and Chinese translators to create the collection, When the Moon is Swimming Naked: Australasian Poetry for the Chinese Youngster (ASM Poetry, Flying Island Books).
Now Chinese and Australian children can enjoy this very cool collection of fun, lyrical, mysterious, realistic, fantastical poetry featuring contributions from such poets as Claire Saxby, Mark Macleod, Mark Tredinnick and yours truly.
I’ll update this post when the collection is available for sale online. Till then, here’s one of mine!
Brave Borrower of Books
I’ll lend a book to you provided this:
I wish to see it come straight back
And smudged with grubby prints
I want to hear you read it on the bus and in the bath
I want to find you read it with a torch beneath your quilt
I want to know the tale enthralled
You didn’t sleep till 12 a.m.
And then, exhausted, bent the cover underneath your head
I have no time for prissy, pristine readers
Who loiter at the edges in their gloves
You must immerse yourself
Leap fully clothed
Then come up
Just grant me this eccentric guarantee
And you may choose a book or two from me.
— Marianne Musgrove
Off with the Fairies
I’m delighted to announce the launch my new book, Forget-me-not Fairies, written by me and illustrated by Patricia McCarthy.
Join sisters Sophie and Ellen as they explore the magical world of Wishaway Wood. The book contains a collection of fabulously illustrated fairy stories interspersed with songs and activities such as how to make a fairy wand. For girls aged 5-8.
Click here to watch a video clip featuring the dulcet tones of yours truly singing The Wishing Song.
There’s also a special Forget-me-not Fairies site with activities and downloads.
You can pick up a copy of the book at all good bookshops. If not available, just ask them to order one in.