Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Say it Out Loud

Jan Dean

For me, part of writing a poem is saying it out loud. You have to discover what the rhythms of the words are doing and find out where you want short and maybe longer pauses.
Sometimes you discover that the phrase you’ve written is particularly fun to say – or particularly awkward. If it’s fun I might consider repeating it or using it as a chorus. Or I might see if I can change other lines to make them more fun to say too.
If it’s awkward, then I’ll rework that bit of the poem – unless I’m writing about awkwardness, in which case I’ll have managed to write about awkwardness in an awkward kind of way and I’ll be really pleased.
When I read my drafts out loud I try to say the words for all they’re worth. I exaggerate the bounces and dips, I think about whether the words seem to want to go fast or slowly. This is about discovering the music the words make and it matters a great deal. The sound the words make is like the background music to the sense they make. You don’t want a sad meaning with a jolly bouncy speeded-up soundtrack, or a happy poem that sounds like a miserable snail crawling over a damp brick.
I do this with all my poems. I perform them as part of the writing process. I’m usually on my own in the house so I can be as daft as I like – but I have been known to tap out rhythms and mutter them under my breath on the train. Maybe that’s why hardly anyone ever comes to sit next to me…

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Keeping a Notebook

Welcome to the first entry in this new blog. It’s all very exciting. And it reminds me of starting a brand new notebook. I’m always a little bit nervous, a little bit scared – and a little bit hesitant – when I start a fresh notebook. I wonder how it will turn out. Will it be full of fantastic poems or full of rubbish? By the time the notebook’s finished it is usually a mixture of both. Because a notebook is where you write down ideas, things you’ve seen and things you’ve heard. If you’re a poet or a writer you are always looking and listening, just in case you hear something that might one day be a poem or a story. And some of your jottings and doodles will become something special and some, quite naturally, won’t.

And this blog is hopefully going to be a bit like a notebook. We have six famous children’s poets – all waiting to discuss things, write about their favourite poets, give you ideas for writing poems and… well… all sorts of things. And we hope it’s going to be fantastic.

So please comment on all our posts. This blog is for you. Tell us what you’d like to read about or talk about. And tell us about your notebook. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.