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Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Power of Publication

I’ve heard adults talking about how gratifying it is to have their work published, so imagine how powerfully gratifying and motivating it is for a student. This week’s blogpost gives a voice to a student, Charlotte Walker, who describes her experience writing a poem and how it felt to have it published.  Helen Rothwell

Charlotte Walker, published poet.
Charlotte Walker, is a sixteen year old, Year 10 student at Glenora District School. She wrote a wonderful poem, in response to a class writing task, that her teacher suggested be entered into the 2014 Write As Rain competition for students’ short stories and poetry. While Charlotte was not a finalist, she did have the thrill of being the only entrant from her school and having her poem published in the 2014 Write As Rain book.
Competition details can be found on the Write4Fun website.

Charlotte, what was the task you were set to undertake?
My class were asked to write a ‘dark’ poem on a gothic theme. We brainstormed vocabulary and then I expanded it with my key ideas. I thought group brainstorming would be a boring, babyish activity, but it was a useful process I could apply to my writing.

What challenges did you face when writing your poem?
It was difficult to keep the ideas flowing and know if I was editing the poem properly, so the meaning wasn’t lost. I was also worried when I experienced blanks in my imagination.
I was motivated to write the poem because I wanted to challenge myself and prove that I could do it. I realised that writing a poem I’m happy with takes more than just writing in class, so I kept thinking about the poem long afterwards. I spent a lot of time at home, where it was quiet, just thinking.
I thought my vocabulary skills were good but not extraordinary. I chose words that really connected to me and meant a lot. I ready my peers’ poems and was given helpful feedback from my teacher.

How long did it take you to draft and edit the poem?
It took four weeks to write and edit, during class time and at home. The poem took longer to write than a narrative because I had to think so intensely about every word I used. In total it took eight drafts and five edits.

Did you know much about poetry before you wrote your poem?
I occasionally read war poetry in class and we had deconstructed poems to discuss their structure, but it was not the usual genre I write in. I knew that you express your feelings deeply in a poem and it is a more concentrated form of writing.

How do you feel about having your poem published in Write As Rain?
It has made a big difference to my confidence and made me more open and calm in class. Before I had my poem published, I was too shy to put myself forward. My classmates were really shocked because they didn’t think I had it in me to write something of that quality. Now, students come to me in class to read their writing and give them my impressions of their work.
Since I had my poem published, I find that I’m more confident writing at school and I spend about three hours a week, at home, writing in my own time. Being published has definitely helped my other school work, for example, my science procedural writing. I feel my phrasing has improved too.

Do you think there is a connection between your reading and writing?
I read a lot and feel I am a good reader. I like mystery books and books with dark themes. I also enjoy spending time in our school library, where we have a good selection of books. If I didn’t read as much as I do, I don’t think I’d have the vocabulary I needed to write my poem.

Trees standing tall
Cold wind blowing
The flowers are lifeless, drained
The shadows recede
Sun breaks through desiccated limbs
Dear sister, eternally still
Dewy grass comes to life where you lie.

Cold wind brushes her rosy cheeks
Lush green dress like the grass that grows
Brown hair
Twists, twines
Flows like a river
Down her face.

Dark shadow in the distance
Dusty clothing
Tall, thin
Seeking, silent
Chalk white skin
Hair like the thorns that cover the land.

As the moon rises
From day to night
My lover standing in the moonlight
Tonight is the night
We will become one.

As I turn
Rosy cheeks turn to chalk
Green dress turns black like burnt grass
Fangs appear
Relying on the one who created me
For my source of food.

                                                                 Charlotte Walker

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