Lorraine Marwood

When did you realise you wanted to become a writer?

Lorraine Marwood and family

From the age of about eight years old. I just knew that deep inside that's what I wanted to be. I didn't think that I'd be a poet as well.

Did you have a favourite book growing up?

One book that still influences me is The Princess and the Goblin, by George Macdonald. The combination of a Princess, goblins, and an ordinary boy as hero and a wonderful magical grandmother all resonated with me. I loved fairytales too. I was such a dreamer. I still have the book and aspire to write like this—yes there will be a fantasy novel one day. This was a definite favourite.

What was the first book you ever had published? How did it feel?

My first book was Rainbow Toes, part of the Macmillan superdooper series. I loved the whole process of writing a story based roughly on one of my sons and his love of football. The ending was tricky and after rewriting, it was accepted. Yipee! It was a loud shouting, jumping in the air, fabulous moment!

It's not your picnic Oscar
It's not your picnic, Oscar!
by Lorraine Marwood
illustrated by
Peter Sheehan
BO 2 2013

Who or what encouraged you along the way?

My love of reading, given to me by my father; a secondary teacher Ms Campbell in High school; my own passion for writing; my view that it is a God-given talent to be used; the thrill of seeing what comes from writing—what twists and images and characters and endings. There's a different encouragement needed to keep sending work out to publishers or entering competitions. These are all important stepping stones to publication and also the great enjoyment of seeing my work published in The School Magazine over many years.

You spend a lot of time workshopping with children in schools. Why do you find this so important?

A good question, a vital question. As that eight-year-old child who knew she just had to write, she also struggled greatly at school. And as a teacher and mother of a big brood of children I went on to study literacy in depth, and finding ways to encourage children and adults to write developed from this. Teaching is a passion, in tandem with my need to write, to encourage others to write; to see such possibilities in the world; to help other people make their own personal understanding of the world through writing.

I design workshops from this point of view as well as workshops that demonstrate the vitality of poetry. It is a way to touch base with my audience, with schools and also to keep an income flowing.

Cow tracks and facts


You've contributed so many wonderful poems to The School Magazine. Where did your love of poetry come from?

Cow tracks and facts

That same primary school where I struggled also had a teacher who read aloud Banjo Paterson. We read English poets, but at secondary school I fell in love with TS Eliot, Browning, Chaucer, Yevtushenko, Bruce Dawe, Gwen Harwood, Sylvia Plath … The fact that meaning could be conveyed so powerfully in a few words, like master strokes, was liberating and fascinating.

I was published in literary poetry magazines at an early age and sent out so many poems to magazines all over the world, but the bulk of my writing life is with children's poetry and children's books. I love writing for children.

Cow tracks and facts - poem by Lorraine Marwood / Illustrated by Kerry Millard BO 9 2012

Can you tell us a little bit about your new book Celebrating Australia: a Year in Poetry?

Yes, certainly. As the title suggests it celebrates all forms of yearly milestones in the Australian calendar.

This is my sixth book with Walker books—all poetry. I spent over a year researching, writing, re-writing poems about celebrations important and fun to our multi- cultural Australia today. I tried to make the poems come alive with the unique features of that particular celebration and at the same time writing in a different way for each poem—a huge task!

I've used wacky ideas, serious as well as solemn ideas, refrains, concrete images, information unique to that celebration and wrapped them all in the tools of poetry I think are vital.